My editor Peter Collier approached me about a book on the modern bioethics movement because he had read some of the things I had written on some of the issues I address in this book and knew that I was an attorney for the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force. Immediately intrigued by the idea, I initially thought it would be a "policy" book. But as I entered the subject more deeply, it became quite personal as well. I should have known that it would. Bioethics, as philosopher Leon Kass told me, is about ultimates: the meaning of life, the challenges of mortality, the rights and responsibilities that flow from being a member of the human family. How we deal with these ultimates defines who we are, both as individuals and as a people.
I could not contemplate these matters without coming face to face with the changing image in my mirror, the hair that is now more silver than dark brown, the forehead lines that are evolving from wrinkles into furrows, the bags under the eyes that puff at the slightest loss of a full night's sleep. On this earth, I am finite. If I don't die first, I will grow old. I will become seriously ill. I might well become disabled. No wonder some of the disabled activists I spoke with in researching The Culture of Death call us TABs—temporarily able‐ bodied!