Medical Ethics and the State
The role of the state (government) in Medical Ethics can be quite complex. In these two articles, two perspectives are explored. The famous Baby Theresa case involves a situation where the state prevents parents from acting to share their dying daughter’s organs. The second case concerns a decision by Michigan to compel a surgical procedure. There are a large number of dilemmas that arise in this case, such as who should decide, who is a person, when someone is dead, how parents, religion and the state should interact. The first article articulates a classic deontological (Kantian-style) argument as to why Theresa is a person, and therefore should be kept alive. The second article approaches the issue from the standpoint of the common good.
These articles are not aiming to resolve these basic moral arguments. They are a good starting point for getting students to see how arguments for both sides could be laid out, both the Killing People is Wrong Argument and the Greatest Benefits Argument. In doing so, the question of resolving personhood comes to the fore.
Who should decide who decides?