The Law and Ethics of Medicine: Essays on the Inviolability of Human Life explains the principle of the inviolability of human life and its continuing relevance to English law governing aspects of medical practice at the beginning and end of life. The book shows that the principle, though widely recognized as an historic and foundational principle of the common law, has been misunderstood in the legal academy, at the Bar and on the Bench. Part I of the book identifies the confusion and clarifies the principle, distinguishing it from 'vitalism' on the one hand and a 'qualitative' evaluation of human life on the other. Part II addresses legal aspects of the beginning of life, including the history of the law against abortion and its relevance to the ongoing abortion debate in the US; the law relating to the 'morning after' pill; and the legal status of the human embryo in vitro. Part III addresses legal aspects of the end of life, including the euthanasia debate; the withdrawal of tube-feeding from patients in a 'persistent vegetative state'; and the duty to provide palliative treatment. This unique collection of essays offers a much-needed clarification of a cardinal legal and ethical principle and should be of interest to lawyers, bioethicists, and healthcare professionals (whether they subscribe to the principle or t) in all common law jurisdictions and beyond.
John Keown DCL, holds the Rose Kennedy Chair in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, one of the world's premier centres of research into ethics. Having graduated in law from Cambridge he took a doctorate at Oxford and was then called to the Bar of England and Wales. Before being elected to the Rose Kennedy Chair he taught the law and ethics of medicine in the Faculty of Law at Cambridge, where he was a Fellow of Queens' College and of Churchill College. Professor Keown has written widely in the field of the law and ethics of medicine. His research has been cited by distinguished bodies worldwide, including the United States Supreme Court, the Law Lords, the House of Commons, the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, and the Australian Senate, one of several bodies before which he has been invited to testify. He has served as a member of the ethics committee of the British Medical Association.