Whilst health care professionals and scientists have been subject to civil law and professional regulation for some time, in this jurisdiction at least, questions of medical and scientific malpractice and cases involving bioethical dilemmas are increasingly coming before the criminal courts. This growing trend seems to have proceeded in the absence of very much at all by way of legal scrutiny, or jurisprudential analysis. Of course, some may consider the use of the criminal law as a forum to resolve bioethical dilemmas as both inevitable and wholly appropriate. Medical practice, biotechnologies and scientific research all have a major impact on our lives and whilst they can bring and have brought us great benefits, we do not have to look too far back into the past to recall the atrocities that have been committed in the name of medical and scientific advancement.
This volume offers balanced arguments that will help the reader form a reasoned view on the ethical legitimacy of the invocation and use of the criminal law to regulate medical practice and issues of bioethics. It aims to shed light on the question of who should define what constitutes ethical, and thus lawful medical practice? The judges, the doctors and scientists or someone else? To this end, it analyses how effectively the criminal justice system can, and does operate as a forum for resolving ethical conflict in the delivery of health care? Key questions that are addressed include: How does the criminal law regulate controversial bioethical areas? Is the use of the criminal law in these areas appropriate or desirable? What effect, positive or negative does the use of the criminal law have when regulating bioethical conflict? Can the law accommodate morally controversy? The volume explores criminal law in theory and in practice and the broad field of ‘bioethics’ rather than the narrower terrain of medical ethics. Whilst numerous chapters focus on criminal law within the specific context of health care, others address scientific research and biotechnologies.