- About HHR
George J. Annas
Oxford University Press (June 2011)
Available at Amazon.com
In Worst Case Bioethics: Death, Disaster, and Public Health, George Annas examines bioethics and ensuing policy through responses to the threat of crisis. In concentrating on bioethics responses towards avoiding or dealing with death and disaster, Annas explores the “radical changes in human rights, public health doctrine, and the application of constitutional law to the practices of medicine.” In the end, he concludes that worst-case scenario planning is often counterproductive to proper crisis preparation, causing us to deviate from human rights standards and our code of bioethics.
Annas explains that fear of death motivates us to plan for worst-case scenarios, which serves to warp emotions and ensuing policymaking. By systematically taking the reader through instances of bioethics and human rights violations, Annas gives a compelling case for why “only plausible scenarios deserve a place in world planning.”
In Part I, entitled Death and Disaster, Annas analyzes the American response to calamity, in regards to topics such as the American health care system, declarations of states of emergency, and views on bioterrorism. He analyzes the actions of American lawyers and physicians, motivated by a worst-case scenario mentality, in situations of duress that led to human rights and bioethics violations. In Part II, Death and the Constitution, Annas cites a number of bioethical controversies that have ended in court rulings, concentrating on cases where physicians had to make decisions regarding death. He backs up his argument that worst-case scenario planning distorts policy discourse and undercuts medical ethics, a core branch of bioethics. Annas then segues to Part III, Disaster and Public Health, extending this mentality over a population and introducing the growing field of health and human rights discourse. He argues that public health concerns are truly transnational and global in nature, but that US public health policy has become increasingly skewed as it moves away from health towards security concerns.
Annas concludes by suggesting an alternative route, a bioethics-minded “national prevention agenda,” which could protect civil rights laws and international human rights agenda while refocusing on the real health concerns at hand. He deftly highlights many of the most controversial cases of bioethics and policy, exposing the major flaws that can occur when a system is shaped by fear.
Papers In Press
Europe’s Shifting Response to HIV/AIDS: From Human Rights to Risk Management
HIV, Hepatitis C, TB, Harm Reduction, and Persons Deprived of Liberty: What Standards Does International Human Rights Law Establish?
Gen Sander and Rick Lines
International Human Rights and the Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth
Rajat Khosla, Christina Zampas, Joshua P. Vogel, Meghan A. Bohren, Mindy Roseman, and Joanna N. Erdman
HIV and the Right to Health in Colombia
Corey Prachniak-Rincón and Jimena Villar de Onís
Transforming Policy into Justice: The Role of Health Advocates in Mozambique
Ellie Feinglass, Nadja Gomes, and Vivek Maru
Reproductive Health Policy in Tunisia: Women's Right to Reproductive Health and Gender Empowerment
Nada Amroussia, Alison Hernandez, and Isabel Goicolea
Letter to the Editor: Moving the Debate Forward in Right to Health Litigation
Octavio Luiz Motta Ferraz
Letter to the Editor Response: On the Heterogeneity and Politics of the Judicialization of Health in Brazil
João Biehl, Mariana P. Socal, Joseph J. Amon
Terminal Patients and the Right to Refuse Medical Treatment in Argentina
Martín Hevia and Daniela Schnidrig
Book review: Advancing Global Health and Human Rights in this Neoliberal Era
Harvard FXB Health and Human Rights Consortium Student Essay Competition:
Human Rights, Law and Abortion in El Salvador
Lessons from Jonathan Mann: The Ten Commandments on Multidrug-Resistant TB
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