American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries

American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries

American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries

American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries

Synopsis

Bioethics was "born in the USA" and the values American bioethics embrace are based on American law, including liberty and justice. This book crosses the borders between bioethics and law, but moves beyond the domestic law/bioethics struggles for dominance by exploring attempts to articulateuniversal principles based on international human rights. The isolationism of bioethics in the US is not tenable in the wake of scientific triumphs like decoding the human genome, and civilizational tragedies like international terrorism. Annas argues that by crossing boundaries which haveartificially separated bioethics and health law from the international human rights movement, American bioethics can be reborn as a global force for good, instead of serving mainly the purposes of U. S. academics. This thesis is explored in a variety of international contexts such as terrorism andgenetic engineering, and in U. S. domestic disputes such as patient rights and market medicine. The citizens of the world have created two universal codes: science has sequenced the human genome and the United Nations has produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The challenge for Americanbioethics is to combine these two great codes in imaginative and constructive ways to make the world a better, and healthier, place to live.

Excerpt

So you're a bioethnacist,” began Stephen Colbert as he opened his interview with medical historian David Rothman on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show in 2003, the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA. Rothman was being questioned, together with James Watson, about whether there is a “stupidity gene.” Rothman insisted, “no, no, an ethicist,” to which Colbert responded curtly, “a bio … one of those things.” Playing bioethics for laughs on Comedy Central is an indication both that bioethics has made it in America, and that it is in some danger of becoming a joke. On the serious side, President George W. Bush devoted his first major televised address to the nation to a bioethical issue (embryonic stem cell research) and his appointment of a President's Council on Bioethics with the broad charge to “consider all of the medical and ethical ramifications of biomedical innovation.” On the more foolish side, Congress passed a bill (for the third time) criminalizing a medical procedure, so-called partial birth abortion, and the Florida legislature, with the endorsement of Governor Jeb Bush, passed a law requiring a feeding tube to be reinserted into a woman in a persistent vegetative state. American bioethicists have successfully promoted informed choice in the doctor-patient relationship, and were instrumental in . . .

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