Medical Law and Moral Rights discusses live issues arising in modern medical practice. Do patients undergoing intolerable irremediable suffering have a moral right to physician-assisted suicide? Ought they to have a comparable legal right? Do the moral duties of a mother to care for and not abuse her child also apply to her fetus? Ought fetuses to be given legal rights requiring pregnant women to submit to medical treatment without their consent? Ought single women, homosexual couples or persons carrying serious genetic defects to have a legal right to procreate? Ought a physician to perform an abortion requested for some frivolous reason? Ought physicians to be permitted to refuse to provide medically futile treatment demanded by their patients? An examination of relevant court cases shows how United States law answers these questions. The author then advocates improvements in the law to make it respect our moral rights more fully. To justify his conclusions, he proposes original conceptions of the human rights to life, procreational autonomy, privacy, equitable treatment and personal security.
Thus, these essays test the usefulness of the theory of rights explained and defended in An Approach to Rights and elsewhere.
1. Introduction 2. Defining the Rights to Physician-Assisted Suicide 3. Glucksberg v. Compassion 4. A Legal Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide 5. A Moral Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide 6. The Concept of Fetal Rights 7. Maternal Duties and Fetal Rights 8. The Scope of the Right to Procreational Autonomy 9. Possessors of the Right to Procreational Autonomy 10. Medical Futility and Moral Rights