Worst Case Bioethics - Death, Disaster and Public Health
The Journal of Legal Medicine
Posted: 30 Sep 2010
Date Written: September 28, 2010
"Worst Case Bioethics" is a term with many possible meanings, some of which may overlap. I use the term to refer to two seperate situations. First, it can involve some real horrendous incidents at the core of bioethics, such as end of life issues, in which fatally flawed reasoning or unwanted politicization of intensenely personal health care decisions compounded heart wrenching situations. These real events are amoung the "worst cases" in the field of bioethics. Second, remotely likely, hypothetical "worst case senarios" of death, destruction, and disaster have been used to justify public policies limiting civil libertties or reflecting unsound public health. "Worst case" analyses have been misapplied to a wide range of commonly anticipated happenings, such as hurricanes and seasonal influenza, thereby equating commonplace public health events with doomsday scenarios of bioterrorism or pandemics.
Keywords: Bioethics, public health, human rights, end of life, pandemics, civil liberties, bioterrorism
JEL Classification: K31, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation