The Case of Terri Schiavo: Ethics, Politics, and Death in the 21st Century

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The case of Terri Schiavo, a young woman who spent 15 years in a persistent vegetative state, has emerged as a watershed in debates over end-of-life care. While many observers had thought the right to refuse medical treatment was well established, this case split a family, divided a nation, and counfounded physicians, legislators, and many of the people they treated or represented. In renewing debates over the importance of advance directives, the appropriate role of artificial hydration and nutrition, and the responsibilities of family members, the case also became one of history's most extensively litigated health care disputes. The Case of Terri Schiavo assembles a team of first-hand participants and content experts to provide thoughtful and nuanced analyses. In addition to a comprehensive overview, the book includes contributions by Ms. Schiavo's guardian ad litem, a neurologist and lawyer who participated in the case, and scholars who examine issues related to litigation, faith, gender, and disability. The volume also includes a powerful dissent from the views of many scholars in the bioethics community. The book is intended for students, health care professionals, policy makers, and other in search of carefully reasoned analyses of the case that will shape our view of death and end-of-life medical care for decades.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Elena M Kraus, BS (Saint Louis University)
Description: This compilation of chapters from a diverse set of perspectives considers the ethics, law, and medicine surrounding Terri Schiavo's life and death. An appendix with a timeline of events in the case helps put the contributions in context.
Purpose: The book aims to bring a diverse set of analyses and perspectives to bear on the Schiavo case in the hope of reducing the spectacle that it became and creating a factual foundation for better interpretation.
Audience: Due to the wide array of disciplines involved in the case, the book will appeal to physicians, lawyers, philosophers, and ethicists. Because it is written for a general educated audience, it also will appeal to students and the interested general public. The editor, a professor of both medicine and philosophy at the University of Miami, assembled a team of contributors representing the various disciplines having a bearing on the case, and some were even directly involved.
Features: Each of the 10 chapters is written by an expert on a different aspect of the case. These experts range from scholars in mass media, ethics, law, philosophy, and the humanities to neurology, brain science, and even Schiavo's guardian at litem. The book covers such pertinent topics as the powers of guardians and surrogates, the government's interference in medicine, disability and privacy rights, and the validity of the information reported by the media throughout the case.
Assessment: The Schiavo case has had a significant impact on U.S. politics, jurisprudence, health policy, and bioethics. The case was polarizing, becoming a huge spectacle that distorted the facts and made Terri Schiavo into a symbol and cause for numerous political and religious groups. This book does a thorough job of illuminating various parts of the case by experts close to it, effectively dispelling the rumors and media hoopla and helping readers to come away with a new perspective on the crucial events.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195399080
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/2009
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Director, Bioethics Program, University of Miami

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