Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides?: Abortion, Neonatal Care, Assisted Dying, and Capital Punishment

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Issues of Life and Death such as abortion, assisted suicide, capital punishment and others are among the most contentious in many societies. Whose rights are protected? How do these rights and protections change over time and who makes those decisions? Based on the author's award-winning and hugely popular undergraduate course at the University of Texas, this book explores these questions and the fundamentally sociological processes which underlie the quest for morality and justice in human societies. The Author's goal is not to advocate any particular moral "high ground" but to shed light on the social movements and social processes which are at the root of these seemingly personal moral questions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'...a gripping, lucid account of the legal, medical, and ethical history behind brutally difficult social decisions concerning who has the right to decide whether someone should live or die, and what reasons count as acceptable. Using a fresh narrative approach free of both abstraction and polemics, Ekland-Olson provides compelling stories of landmark cases that crystallized thought and motivated social movements to deal with ethical concerns associated with abortion, the preservation of life for desperately incurable infants, legal reforms to sterilize 'defective' human beings, medical experiments on vulnerable people, eugenics legislation to improve the health of the fittest, assisted dying, the occurrence of terrible post-Civil War lynchings, and the mottled history of capital punishment in the US...This volume includes a detailed table of contents, key quotations throughout, and an excellent bibliography. It should be read and discussed widely, for both its content and approach. Summing Up: Highly recommended.'
—S. A. Mason, Concordia University in CHOICE, May 2012
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sheldon Ekland-Olson joined The University of Texas at Austin after completing his graduate work at the University of Washington in Seattle and Yale Law School. He is currently the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts and serving as the Director of the School of Human Ecology. For five years he served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and then for eight years as Executive Vice President and Provost of the university. He has authored or co-authored several books and numerous articles on criminal justice, prison reform, and capital punishment. Widely recognized for his commitment to teaching undergraduates, he is the recipient of numerous teaching awards. His current interests are reflected in the book, Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides?; an exploration of how communities have gone about justifying the violation of universally held moral imperatives.

He is married to his best friend, Carolyn. They have two children, well grown. These children have produced seven grand children, all as it turns out, perfectly perfect.

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Table of Contents

1. A Single Question PART I: A Moral System Evolves 2. An Exclusionary Movement is Born 3. Legal Reform to Eliminate Defectives 4. Redrawing the Boundaries of Protected Life 5. Crystallizing Events and Ethical Principles PART II: The Early Moments and Months of Life 6. A Bolt from the Blue: Abortion is Legalized 7. Man’s Law or God’s Will 8. Inches from Life 9. Should the Baby Live? PART III: The Boundaries of Tolerable Suffering 10. Limits to Tolerable Suffering 11. Alleviating Suffering and Protecting Life 12. God, Duty, and Life Worth Living 13. Assisted Dying PART IV: Taking Life and Inflicting Suffering 14. Removing the Protective Boundaries of Life 15. A Campaign to Stop the Executions 16. The Pendulum Swings, the Debate Continues 17. Lessons Learned

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