There is probably no other field in which law and ethics are so strongly intertwined as in biomedicine. Legal and ethical doctrines on topics like informed consent have been developed through close cooperation between lawyers and ethicists. The work of ethicists is in many ways both oriented toward the law and influenced by the law. Ethicists act as expert witnesses in courts or as advisors on legislative issues, for example, on the regulation of embryo research. In countlies where ethics committees or review boards are legally recognized, they seem to have a semi-judicial status. Conversely, legal concepts, like the right to privacy, dominate moral discussions. Because bioethics and health law are so strongly connected, every bioethicist must have a basic understanding of law. For instance, when an ethicist is asked for advice on legislation, he or she should talrn account of the institutional character oflaw, which has its own dynamics, restraints, and societal functions. Talrn, for example, a discussion of prostitution in the context of AIDS policies. Here the practical problems of enforcement and the possible side effects oflegal prohibition alone might produce such bad consequences that the more principled arguments against legal moralism become superfluous.

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ISBN 978-1-4051-6331-6
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van der Burg, W. (2009). Law and Bioethics. In P. Singer & H. Kuhse (eds.), A Companion to Bioethics, Oxford: Blackwell, 2009 (revised, second edition). (pp. 56–64). Retrieved from