Law, Biomedicine and Bioethics – 6853

Fall 2019

This course is an immersion in the fascinating cross-disciplinary domain where law, biomedicine, and bioethics meet. We will examine the history of this field, key controversies that have driven that history, the range of applicable law (state, federal, and international), the evolution of modern bioethics and its interaction with law, and the articulation of policy (from commissions, NGOs, professional societies, and others). The course will consider competing accounts of the relationship of law, biomedicine, and bioethics, as well as controversy over future directions. We will begin by considering the nature of bioethics and its relation to law, including in the crucial area of informed consent. We will then examine the history of modern bioethics, starting with the Medical Trial at Nuremberg after World War II and progressing to development of research ethics. We will proceed to analyze the evolving role of law and bioethics in governing assisted reproduction, cloning and other emerging technologies including gene editing, genetics and genomics, organ transplantation and the determination of death, life-sustaining treatment and care of the dying, and physician-assisted suicide (sometimes called “physician-assisted death”) and euthanasia. Finally, we will consider how bioethics and law are addressing discrimination and disparities in health care and biomedicine.