American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries

By George J. Annas | Go to book overview

2
Human Rights and Health

The modern human rights movement was born from the devastation of World War II.1 Nonetheless, appeals to universal human rights are at least as old as human government. When Jean Anouilh produced Sophocles's Antigone in Nazi-occupied Paris in early 1944, the French audience identified Antigone with the French resistance. Antigone was sentenced to be buried alive for defying King Creon's order not to bury her dead brother (whom the King considered a traitor) but to leave his body to rot in public. The Nazis in the audience also applauded the performance, apparently because they identified with Creon and his difficulty in maintaining law and order in the face of seemingly fanatical resistance.2

Antigone, written more than 2400 years ago, focuses on a central moral problem: is there a “higher,” universal law to which all humans must answer, or is simply obeying the written law of one's country sufficient? Antigone justified her defiance of the king on the basis of an unwritten, higher law:

Nor did I think your edict had such force
that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods,
the great unwritten, unshakable traditions.

-19-

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American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • I - Bioethics and Human Rights 1
  • 1: Bioethics and Bioterrorism 3
  • 2: Human Rights and Health 19
  • 3: The Man on the Moon 27
  • 4: The Endangered Human 43
  • 5: The Right to Health 59
  • 6: Capital Punishment 69
  • II - Bioethics and Health Law 79
  • 7: Conjoined Twins 81
  • 8: Patient Rights 95
  • 9: White Coat Police 105
  • 10: Partial Birth Abortion 121
  • 11: The Shadowlands 135
  • 12: Waste and Longing 149
  • Concluding Remarks - Bioethics, Health Law, and Human Rights Boundary Crossings 159
  • Appendix A - Universal Declaration of Human Rights 167
  • Appendix B - International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 175
  • Appendix C - International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights 195
  • Appendix D - The Nuremberg Code 205
  • Notes 207
  • Index 237
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