Book Review: Human Dignity and Bioethics

New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 359, No. 6, p. 660, 2008

U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-3

3 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2009  

Leslie Meltzer Henry

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Date Written: July 1, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: dignity, bioethics, abortion, cloning, assisted suicide, health care, metaphysics, religion, law

Suggested Citation

Henry, Leslie Meltzer, Book Review: Human Dignity and 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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1428432

Leslie Meltzer Henry (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States
410-706-4480 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.umaryland.edu/faculty/profiles/faculty.html?facultynum=616

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.bioethicsinstitute.org/people/leslie-meltzer-henry

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