Bioethics Backlash: Implications of the Retreat from Autonomy for the Communication of Scientific Health Information
Thaddeus Mason Pope
Mitchell Hamline School of Law; Queensland University of Technology - Australian Health Law Research Center; Saint Georges University; Alden March Bioethics Institute
May 24, 2010
Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-41
The doctrine of informed consent requires that the medical community communicate scientific health information to the consumer. Knowledge and understanding enable the consumer to make her own health-care decisions. And, in modern Western society, that is a highly desirable end. However, healthcare professionals cannot always inform or educate the consumer. They cannot always enable the consumer to make her own healthcare decisions. They cannot, because, sometimes, policymakers decide that the better course of action is to take control away both from consumers and from healthcare professionals and to instead vest it with government appointed scientific experts.
In this paper, I address this question: Under what circumstances should policymakers usurp consumer autonomy instead of fostering it? First, I will discuss the scope and nature of a recent and growing shift in attitude toward autonomy. Then, I will use therapeutic drug law policy (i.e. the regulation of pharmaceuticals) as a vehicle for exploring the implications of this shift in attitude toward autonomy on the communication of scientific health information.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 8
Keywords: informed consent, autonomy, health information, health law, bioethics, medical information
JEL Classification: K32, I18
Date posted: May 24, 2010 ; Last revised: February 20, 2014