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Quinnipiac College School of Law




When I was invited to give this talk I thought, "I'll just give my standard slide show on death in America." I thought I would just talk about the right to die, something I can do in my sleep, and everybody would be happy. And you probably would, since it's a pretty good speech. I am going to give it at a Pennsylvania Judges Conference in a couple of weeks, and they will like it. But it is not very challenging, either for me or for you. So, what I want to explore with you today is how judges have reacted to legal problems physicians confront at the beginning and end of life, and how their reactions have led to the deprofessionalization of medicine. I am going to suggest, in outline form, that judges, while very well-meaning in their decisions regarding the medical profession, have led us in a deprofessionalizing, consumer-choice direction, something quite the opposite of what they intended. Specifically, judicial decisions at the beginning and end of life involving abortion and the right to die have created a climate in which law has become the dominant force defining medical ethics.



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