Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die: Bioethics and the Transformation of Health Care in America

Amy Gutmann and Jonathan D. Moreno. Liveright, $27.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-871-40446-6
Gutmann (The Spirit of Compromise, coauthor) and Moreno (Impromptu Man), who both served on President Obama’s bioethics commission, vividly explore the complexity of the ethical principles underlying scientific advances and emerging medical treatments. The opening chapters lay historic and cultural foundations, showing how debates over medical practices became more contentious as Americans became less automatically trusting of medical practitioners. Gutmann and Moreno then trace the evolving ethical debate by taking on wide-ranging questions, from the concrete—unequal availability of healthcare—to the abstract—the evolving definition of parenthood amid the proliferation of reproductive technologies. They also introduce the different ethical philosophies in play, the best-known of which is utilitarianism, but ensure the discussion remains immediate through real-life examples. These include the case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill cancer patient, whose “youth and vigorous advocacy” for her right to a physician-assisted death the authors credit with bringing new attention to the issue. Part cultural history, part philosophical enquiry, and part gentle polemic, this valuable survey should become prescribed reading for America’s healthcare practitioners. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 04/23/2019
Release date: 08/27/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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