Copyright (c) 2002 The Catholic University of America
Journal of Contemporary Health Law & Policy
ARTICLE: CONSTITUTIONAL VALUES AND THE ETHICS OF HEALTH CARE: A COMPARISON OF THE UNITED STATES AND GERMANY
18 J. Contemp. Health L. & Pol'y 619
William Joseph Wagner
A variety of causes - economic, social and political - have introduced a new era in health care. Those participating in the delivery of health care services in this new era are in need, more than ever, of the foundation and direction which a sound ethics supplies. At the same time, the press of market forces and resulting changes in economic forms of organizing the delivery of health care services mean that even the most basic ethical principles must be reformulated and promulgated anew, and concrete moral dilemmas accompanying rapid innovation in medical technologies call for an unprecedented stream of specific and detailed answers to new ethical problems. Nor can society delegate the task of renewing an ethics of health care to a sub-specialty of professional ethics. (These developments place at issue the integrity of a web of societal relationships, which are sufficiently far reaching in extent to put at stake society's basic commitment to remaining a moral and political association.) The litigation of legal disputes in the delivery of health care services will eventually lead our courts to adjudicate the role of constitutional values as a foundation for a societal-sanctioned ethics of health care. Gradually, the law will institutionalize some resolution of the ethical issues arising with the new era in health care. For better or worse, that legal resolution will bring with it a re-interpretation of our system of constitutional values.
In the first section, this essay will consider questions the new era in ...
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