Larry Hultgren reviews Bioethics Beyond the Headlines by Albert R. Jonsen, in Metapsychology:
If you plan to read only one book this summer on bioethics, Bioethics Beyond the Headlines by Albert R. Jonsen is your book. The author is one of the pioneers in the field of bioethics, and his newest book is both engaging and readable. As suggested by its subtitle, it covers the important topics: Who Lives? Who Dies? Who Decides? It is up-to-date, and it moves easily from classic issues such as forgoing life support in the case of Karen Ann Quinlan to contemporary concerns about tube feeding and lessons learned from the recent Florida case of Terri Schiavo.
This stimulating book covers all the major topics in bioethics. Following a brief introductory essay in Part I on the meaning and history of bioethics, Jonsen examines the disputes and ethical issues involved in seven news stories that deal with the practice of clinical medicine (Part II Clinical Ethics). He looks at the definitions of death; forgoing life support and quality of life issues; medical paternalism, patient autonomy and informed consent; organ transplantation; euthanasia and questions involving aid-in dying or physician-assisted suicide; ART (assisted reproductive technologies), including recent concerns emerging from preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD); and abortion. Each chosen headline or case is relevant and appropriate. For example, instead of rehashing the issue of abortion as it appears in standard bioethics, Jonsen focuses on the hotly debated procedure, called, medically, intact dilation and extraction, and, politically, partial birth abortion.