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Copyright (c) 1990 Boston University School of Law.
American Journal of Law & Medicine

NOTE AND COMMENT: CONFLICT IN THE PARAMETERS DEFINING LIFE AND DEATH IN MISSOURI STATUTES

1990

16 Am. J. L. and Med. 555

Author

Wendy L. Schoen

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION
 
When does life begin?
When does life end?

These questions have intrigued theologians, politicians, physicians, scientists, philosophers and jurists since humans first considered their origins. Defining the parameters of life 1 has proved to be a continuing exercise in religious, moral, ethical, medical and legal controversies. 2 Although a thorough discussion of the religious, moral and ethical controversies is beyond the scope of this Note, 3 some general observations can be made because of their influence on society's laws, policies and acceptable medical treatment practices. For example, in religion, these debates generally center on humankind's creation by God, the sanctity of His creations and beliefs about the afterlife. 4 Moral and ethical arguments also focus on the "sanctity of life," but do so by questioning whether life is defined as a "person" (or the "potential person") or as a biological organism. 5

The medical debate centers on precisely how to define life as medical technology provides increasingly sophisticated, artificial means to support bodily functions, such as incubators, artificial respirators and heart-lung machines. 6 The legal debate incorporates and relies upon medical definitions of when life begins and ends, focusing on the concepts of onset and cessation of both the individual's and the state's rights and interests 7 in such politically sensitive areas as abortion, homicide and most recently, fetal abuse.

This Note posits that the most effective and logical resolution of these continuing debates is the adoption of a functional, objective definition of life. Toward that end, ...
 
 
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