Biomedical Ethics and the Law (English Edition)
In the past few years, an increasing number of colleges and universities have added courses in biomedical ethics to their curricula. To some extent, these additions serve to satisfy student demands for "relevance. " But it is also true that such changes reflect a deepening desire on the part of the academic community to deal effectively with a host of problems which must be solved if we are to have a health-care delivery system which is efficient, humane, and just. To a large degree, these problems are the unique result of both rapidly changing moral values and dramatic advances in biomedical technology. The past decade has witnessed sudden and conspicuous controversy over the morality and legality of new practices relating to abortion, therapy for the mentally ill, experimentation using human subjects, forms of genetic interven tion, and euthanasia. Malpractice suits abound, and astronomical fees for malpractice insurance threaten the very possibility of medical and health-care practice. Without the backing of a clear moral consensus, the law is frequently forced into resolving these conflicts only to see the moral issues involved still hotly debated and the validity of the existing law further questioned. Take abortion, for example. Rather than settling the legal issue, the Supreme Court's original abortion decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), seems only to have spurred further legal debate. And of course, whether or not abortion is a mo rally ac ceptable procedure is still the subject of heated dispute.