Book Review

Text, Cases And Materials On Medical Law and Ethics

Marc Stauch and Kay Wheat

Book CoverWhatever one's ethical perspective of  health care matters, we need to know the law pertaining to them. This valuable work provides us with rich, up-to-date material relating to the law and there are consistent ethical discussions throughout each chapter from a variety of different perspectives.

The book covers all the major areas of medical ethics and law: consent, confidentiality, abortion, euthanasia and mental health among others. On mental health law, there is a helpful discussion of the recent Cheshire West case regarding deprivation of liberty. There is a good comparison of mental health legislation with the law on mental capacity.

The major legal cases pertaining to end of life care is discussed including the cases of Cox, Bland and Nicklinson. To research on Nicklinson, all the reader has to do is refer to the table of cases at the beginning of the book. The legal opinions of the judges are detailed in all cases. There are also ethical opinions from a variety of different perspectives.

On abortion, we are again presented with the major legal cases both before and after the 1967 Abortion Act. There are plenty of discussions from a legal and ethical perspective by a variety of scholars: Dworkin, Thomson, Keown, Brazier etc. One cannot help but note that there could have been a better pro-life response to the well known pro-abortion arguments put forward by Thomson. This is a pity as the work is generally quite balanced.

It is very helpful to have the major legal and ethical opinions in one book. The material is easy to access and even when one disagrees with some of the authors cited, it remains extremely helpful.