The concept of reproductive health promises to play a crucial role in improving health care provision and legal protection for women around the world. This is an authoritative and much-needed introduction to and defence of the concept of reproductive health, which though internationally endorsed, is still contested. The authors are leading authorities on reproductive medicine, women's health, human rights, medical law, and bioethics. They integrate their disciplines to provide an accessible but comprehensive picture. They analyse 15 cases from different countries (...) and cultures, and explore options for resolution. The aim is to equip readers to fashion solutions in their own health care circumstances, compatibly with ethical, legal and human rights principles. (shrink)
This paper presents an overview of the dimensions of unsafe motherhood, contrasting data from economically developed countries with some from developing countries. It addresses many common factors that shape unsafe motherhood, identifying medical, health system and societal causes, including women's powerlessness over their reproductive lives in particular as a feature of their dependent status in general. Drawing on perceptions of Jonathan Mann, it focuses on public health dimensions of maternity risks, and equates the role of bioethics in conscientious medical care (...) to that of human rights in public health care. The microethics of medical care translate into the macroethics of public health, but the transition compels some compromise of personal autonomy, a key feature of Western bioethics, in favour of societal analysis. Religiously‐based morality is seen to have shaped laws that contribute to unsafe motherhood. Now reformed in former colonizing countries of Europe, many such laws remain in effect in countries that emerged from colonial domination. UN conferences have defined the concept of ‘reproductive health’ as one that supports women's reproductive self‐determination, but restrictive abortion laws and practices epitomize the unjust constraints to which many women remain subject, resulting in their unsafe motherhood. Pregnant women can be legally compelled to give the resources of their bodies to the support of others, while fathers are not legally compellable to provide, for instance, bone‐marrow or blood donations for their children's survival. Women's unjust legal, political, economic and social powerlessness explains much unsafe motherhood and maternal mortality and morbidity. (shrink)
This Major Reference series brings together a wide range of key international articles in law and legal theory. Many of these essays are not readily accessible, and their presentation in these volumes will provide a vital new resource for both research and teaching. Each volume is edited by leading international authorities who explain the significance and context of articles in an informative and complete introduction.
Demands by Patients or their Families for treatment thought to be inappropriate by health care providers constitute an important set of moral problems in clinical practice. A variety of approaches to such cases have been described in the literature, including medical futility, standard of care and negotiation. Medical futility fails because it confounds morally distinct cases: demand for an ineffective treatment and demand for an effective treatment that supports a controversial end (e.g., permanent unconsciousness). Medical futility is not necessary in (...) the first case and is harmful in the second. Ineffective treatment falls outside the standard of care, and thus health care workers have no obligation to provide it. Demands for treatment that supports controversial ends are difficult cases best addressed through open communication, negotiation and the use of conflict-resolution techniques. Institutions should ensure that fair and unambiguous procedures for dealing with such cases are laid out in policy statements. (shrink)
Medical research involving human subjects raises complex ethical, legal and social issues. Investigators sometimes find that their obligations with respect to a research project come into conflict with their obligations to individual patients. The ethical conduct of research rests on 3 guiding principles: respect for persons, beneficience, and justice. Respect for persons underlies the duty to obtain informed consent from study participants. Beneficence demands a favourable balance between the potential benefits and harms of participation. Justice requires that vulnerable people not (...) be exploited and that eligible candidates who may benefit from participation not be excluded without good cause. Studies must be designed in a way that ensures the validity of findings and must address questions of sufficient importance to justify the risks of participation. In any clinical trial there must be genuine uncertainty as to which treatment arm offers the most benefit, and placebo controls should not be used if effective standard therapies exist. Researchers have a responsibility to inform themselves about the ethical, legal and policy standards that govern their activities. When difficulties arise, they should consult the existing literature and seek the advice of experts in research ethics. (shrink)