Book Review: Human Dignity and Bioethics
Leslie Meltzer Henry
University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
July 1, 2009
New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 359, No. 6, p. 660, 2008
U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-3
The President’s Council on Bioethics frequently invokes -- but never defines -- the notion of human dignity in its reports on caregiving, stem-cell research, cloning, assisted reproduction, and biomedical enhancement. This article argues that the Council employs the language of dignity so loosely in its policy recommendations that the word is often nothing more than a rhetorical trump card to reject policies at odds with the Bush administration’s perspective. This article examines how the Council uses the word dignity; explores competing philosophical, theological, and political understandings of the word; and suggests ways in which a more productive dialogue about dignity's meaning can proceed.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 3
Keywords: dignity, bioethics, abortion, cloning, assisted suicide, health care, metaphysics, religion, law
Date posted: July 2, 2009
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