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Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1994




The Catholic University of America




Health law is applied law, the entire body of law applied to the promotion of human health and the delivery of medical care. It is accurate, if not flattering, to observe that the vast majority of health law teachers and practitioners are content to take their "applied" discipline as they find it, and spend most of their time and energy describing the intersections of law, medicine, and health care as they occur in the world around us. Margaret Somerville is a refreshing challenge to health law's self-satisfied and confining activities, and it has been invigorating to be her friend and colleague over the past two decades. She challenges not only health lawyers but all leaders in the caring professions to act as "the sherpas of the new ideas for the next generation." She insists that we, like sherpas who guide climbers up the mountain, "take responsibility for the safety of those we lead; not to seek recognition and to accept not always to be recognized; to carry burdens for others; to explore; to move forward on the basis of trust, loyalty, honesty, courage and integrity." She sees her mission in life (and that of health lawyers around the world) "to evolve a new paradigm" for the human community, together with the ethics that can inform and shape it. In her words, "We are the new generation of explorers of our human mind, imagination' and spirit. The challenge for all of us is to create structures in which we can both personally identify and feel we belong in small groups, and yet recognize ourselves and all others as part of the one human family."

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