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Assessing Bioethics Today

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2009

David C. Thomasma
Loyola University Chicago Medical Center and the Director of the International Bioethlcs Institute


During 1992, academic bioethicists celebrated the 30th anniversary of bioethics. Some like to date the origin of modern secular bioethics to the advent of transplant technology that began with kidney transplantation in the early 1960s in the Seattle, Washington, area. This is certainly a good candidate for a starting point. Another might be the work of Joseph Fletcher in the New York area with the Euthanasia Society of America and with clergy training. Still another candidate for the origins of secular bioethics would be the trial of physicians at the University of Virginia for transplanting a kidney at which the same Joseph Fletcher testified. At that trial, the alteration occurred in American law from a definition of death that focused on the cessation of heartbeat to one that focused on the cessation of brain function.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1993

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