Worst Case Bioethics: Death, Disaster, and Public Health

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"Carefully reasoned, clearly articulated, and pulls no punches...Boldly tackles the most contentious issues in bioethics and public policy....Worst Case Bioethics is certain to provoke strong responses across disciplines and ideologies on issues of great importance."- Mark Rothstein, Journal of Legal Medicine

"Annas persuasively argues in Worst Case Bioethics that basing policy on extreme nightmare possibilities leads to a distortion of fundamental ethical principles and legal protections." - Arthur L. Caplan, The Lancet

"Worst Case Bioethics offers a valuable consideration of how public health policy is sometimes shaped by fear in a counterproductive manner. The book is well-written, well-reasoned, and persuasive." - Thomas May, Science

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"So the stereotypical charge that international law cannot be enforced for purposes of promoting public health is by and large a product of our frustration with the sloppy, sluggish, and cynical approach to health and human rights. Annas has provided an opportunity to begin this debate anew by using domestic cases and topics to illustrate that human rights is central to securing our individual and population health."

"George Annas examines worst case scenarios in the American context and assesses their impacts on individuals, physicians and the government. He wistfully discusses the diverging views on disconcerting topics such as death and disaster." — Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: D. Robert MacDougall, MDiv (Saint Louis University)
Description: This book explains how decision making with the worst case scenario in mind has had a chronically negative impact on both medical and public health policy.
Purpose: The purpose is to show that policies involving human rights abuses or infringements on civil liberties are sometimes justified by appealing to the potential development of worst case scenarios, but that policies or plans developed on such a basis are nearly always self defeating. The book corrals many illustrative examples from a wide range of health laws in accomplishing its objectives.
Audience: It is aimed at both bioethicists and scholars in related fields, such as health law, medicine, and public health. The book is not overly technical and should be accessible to all of its intended audience. The author has published several well-known works related to health law and bioethics and is widely considered an expert in this field.
Features: The book is divided into three parts that deal with the way the U.S. healthcare system is designed around the avoidance of death, the role this sort of worst-case scenario thinking has had in judicial decisions involving physicians, and the effect that such worst-case thinking has had on public health policy. The author uses his underlying theme, the avoidance of worst-case scenarios, in an imaginative way to draw together several features of U.S. healthcare and law that are not usually considered together. For example, it is particularly interesting to see him trace the infringements of civil liberties in public health, and the inefficient basic structure of U.S. healthcare delivery, to the same root cause. However, he also has a proclivity for asserting politically contentious opinions as though they are facts, neglecting to defend them or even indicate he is aware that they need to be defended.
Assessment: Most readers interested in these topics will find this a creative and insightful rubric for examining different aspects of U.S. healthcare and law.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199840717
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/29/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

George Annas is William Fairfield Warren Professor at Boston University and Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health. He is also Professor in the Boston University schools of Medicine and Law. He is the co-founder of Global Lawyers and Physicians, a transnational group that promotes human rights and health. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Institute of Medicine, and a member of the National Academies' Human Rights Committee.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Scared to Death by Worst Case Scenarios
Death and Disaster
1. American Healthcare
2. Bioterror and Bioart
3. State of Emergency
4. Licensed to Torture
5. Hunger Strikes
6. War
Death and the Constitution
7. Cancer
8. Drug Dealing Doctors
9. Toxic Tinkering
10. Abortion
11. Culture of Death
12. Patient Safety
Disaster and Human Rights
13. Global Health
14. The Statue of Security
15. Pandemic Fear
16. Bioidentifiers
17. Genetic Genocide

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