Bioethics and the Law: Notes, Cases, and Problems



The purpose of bioethics is to put forth ethically acceptable solutions to the problems posed by modern medicine. The actions of healthcare providers are governed by the four principles of bioethics: autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. The principles of bioethics are directly connected to legal mandates. This book is designed to be used to teach a 2 or 3 credit biomedical ethics and law course or seminar. The number of biomedical ethics issues are vast and beyond the scope of this book. In this book, there will be an examination of the most common duties and rights that arise from the healthcare provider-patient relationship. 

Part I explores the ethical and legal issues surrounding the creation and termination of the healthcare provider-patient relationship. Chapter One in this section analyzes the actions that are necessary to create and to terminate a physician-patient relationship. It also addresses the reasons a physician cannot use to reject a patient. The remaining chapters in this Part address the duties that arise once a physician-patient relationship is created. Chapter Two focuses upon the healthcare provider’s duty to protect patient information by analyzing the duty of confidentiality. The Chapter also acknowledges that the duty of confidentiality is not absolute and may be breached to protect third parties. The final chapter in this part deals with the physician’s duty to obtain informed consent prior to performing procedures on or conducting medical research on a patient or client. During the course of discussing the physician’s duty to obtain informed consent, the chapter delves into the kinds of information that a physician must disclose, so that the patient can make an informed decision. 

Part II of the book transitions from discussing duties to focusing on rights. The chapters in this Part evaluate an individual’s right to make reproductive decisions without undue governmental interference. Chapter Four, the first chapter in this Part, dissects an individual’s right to procreate. Chapter Five deals with the most controversial and debated issue in the country—the right to not procreate. That chapter includes a discussion about contraceptives and abortion jurisprudence. Chapter Six addresses a woman’s right to give birth without governmental dictates. It examines cases where the rights of the mother and the fetus may be in conflict.

Part III of the book looks at death and dying, an issue that has become important in the last few years for two main reasons: the aging of the population and advances in medicine that make it possible for people to live long lives that may be lacking in quality. The first chapter in this part, Chapter Seven, examines an individual’s right to refuse medical treatment even if that refusal might result in death. Chapter Eight addresses medical futility involving situations where the physician decides to stop medical treatment over the objection of the patient or the patient’s family members. The final chapter of the book, Chapter Nine, begins with a discussion of the history of the right to die movement in the United States. Then, it addresses the two U.S. Supreme Court cases concluding that there is technically no right to die based on the United States Constitution, and the Montana case finding that the State’s Constitution could be interpreted as giving a person the right to die. 

In addition to cases, the book contains problems, notes, and questions. The cases are designed to give the student a clear understanding of the relevant law. The problems are included to permit the students the opportunity to apply the law. The notes and questions are provided so the students will think critically about the policies behind the law and the outcome of the cases. 

218,000 Words, 374 Pages in PDF

Published July 2021

A Teacher's Manual is available for faculty; please use your CALI credentials to login for access. 

Creative Commons Licensing
Creative Commons Licence