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Ethics at the Edge of Life: Medical and Legal Intersections

Laurence B. McCullough, PhD
JAMA. 1978;240(8):790. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290080080040.
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The theologian undertakes an investigation of ethical issues in public policy with great confidence, for he starts with a fund of authoritative moral teachings. The theologian's task, therefore, is to discipline his views according to those teachings. He does not do so blindly, however, for matters of interpretation cannot be avoided, especially in an area of inquiry as complex as medical ethics. If the theologian is successful, his work is instructive in the fullest sense: it engages the reader in a sustained and critical reflection on how we live our lives. Paul Ramsey's latest work in medical ethics is a book of this sort.

This book is a study of the medical, ethical, and legal issues converging in our public policies regarding the "edges of life." Three essays address moral issues at the "first of life." These concern the 1976 Supreme Court decision regarding a Missouri statute regulating abortion, the


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