Understanding Bioethics and the Law: The Promises and Perils of the Brave New World of Biotechnology

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In this book, Schaller provides a thorough examination of the impact of biotechnology and biomedical advances on the everyday lives of people in modern society. Individuals and institutions are increasingly faced with a growing number of critical personal and ethical decisions that present themselves at all stages of life, from birth to death. These issues include the physician-patient relationship, informed consent, confidentiality and privacy, reproductive choices, end-of-life choices, health care, drug choices, and the allocation of scarce resources such as human organs, sperm, and eggs. In the absence of policies, we turn increasingly to the courts to resolve these issues. Schaller illuminates the role of the law in bioethics controversies.

Although bioethics as an independent discipline is barely thirty years old, bioethics issues already pervade everyday life and regularly capture the attention of the media. The field is constantly changing because of new developments in technology and medicine. Many significant controversies in bioethics are developing without a great deal of policy regulation. In the absence of policy, individuals and institutions are increasingly turning to courts for decisions on crucial controversies. When court cases are brought, judge-made law has great impact, not only in terms of resolving particular controversies, but also in transforming bioethical issues in ways that cannot be anticipated. Advances and discoveries in medicine and the life sciences will continue to have important and yet unpredictable impacts, not only on the lives of individuals, but on society as a whole. The great promise of new developments is offset by numerous perils. Individual and public policy choices must take into account the full range of possibilities, and Schaller has provided an invaluable guide to this ethical minefield.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Justice Schaller presents a unique view of how the court system has to structure and analyze the ethical issues that are presented as legal questions. A thorough examination of the limitations of the court system is presented for the reader who is new to the analysis of ethical issues by the courts. By presenting background on the limitations of litigation with regards to biotechnology and the analysis of ethical issues that are presented as legal questions, Just Schaller is able to challenge the reader to determine if the court system really is the best way to establish policy with regards to bioethics. This book would be beneficial to anyone who has an interest in policy making in the field of public health and biotechnology."


Journal of High Technology Law

"For the practicing attorney, it is a good guide on the rold of law in the bioethical field and of the possible undesirable outcomes. […] The book is well written and the issues are well developed. Although Justice Schaller approaches some of the issues from a philosophical standpoint, the problems and the needs are real, and judges and lawyers who find themselves in the thicket will benefit from the guidance which this book provides."


Connecticut Bar Journal

"The law moves in ways that are mysterious to many. Both these fascinating books, although dealing with different jurisdictions and issues, contribute to our understanding of the most important ethical challenges that lawyers will face in the coming decades. (reviewed with Easeful Death: Is There a Case for Assisted Dying? OUP)"



"Standing at the intersection of philosophy, law, science, medicine, and in some cases, theology, bioethics encompasses some of the most troubling questions of the past two decades. Here, Schaller addresses and analyzes in depth a range of bioethical issues: the use of human subjects in scientific research; wrongful birth and wrongful life claims; in vitro fertilization and use of embryos; genetic diagnostic techniques; embryotic stem cell research; organ transplants; and end-of-life issues….Schaller combines a practical sense of how the law works, with a reflective approach to all these contemporary legal and ethical issues."


Law and Politics Book Review

"This is an excellent book. After situating bioethics as a discipline within its social context and outlining the ways in which it is threatened by court intervention, Schaller (justice, Connecticut Supreme Court) discusses the legislative and administrative regulation of human subject research….This book is recommended for all with an interest in bioethics. Recommended. Lower-division undergraduate through professional collections."



"Judge Schaller's book is prodigious in the questions it raises and analyzes. For all the complexity of the subject, the work in a readable fashion introduces lawyers, as well as the educated public, to how legal institutions grapple with bioethical

challenges in ways that avoid harm (to persons and the advance of science), respect individual autonomy, and maybe even do some good. As a reference manual to the bioethical questions that have been most significant in the last half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the current one, Judge Schaller's book is first rate."



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275999186
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

BARRY R. SCHALLER is a Connecticut Supreme Court Justice. He is an instructor of trial advocacy at Yale Law School and has recently held visiting lecturer appointments at Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and the University of Connecticut's School of Public Health.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Foreword   Todd Brewster     xi
Acknowledgments     xvii
Introduction: Bioethics on Trial     1
The Context of Bioethics, Law, and Society     19
The Legal Landscape of Human Research Litigation     37
Better Off Dead? Can Judges Be Metaphysicians?     71
Body Parts: Allocating Organs     105
Stem Cells: Promise and Politics     133
Boundaries at the End of Life: The Strange Case of Terri Schiavo     159
New Frontiers     185
Notes     209
Selected Bibliography     227
Index     231
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