Medical Ethics in Life and Death

Archive Report

Origins of Public Concern

Cases Involving Life-Saving Decisions

Life And Death once had simple definitions. Life began with a baby's first breath; death with a person's last. No longer. Medical science has altered our understanding of life's bounds. Life can be traced—even photographed—from the moment a human egg is fertilized.1 Death can be postponed by machines that induce breathing and circulation long after the brain has lost its capacity to orchestrate bodily functions. But not all that is now medically possible is ethically desirable or legally permissible.

Medical technology has given society the means to save people that otherwise might have died; to prolong—even restore—life to victims of accidents and disease. But in so doing, it has raised difficult questions about when such treatment should be abandoned ...

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