This course provides an overview of the law and policy that underpin the subject of healthcare bioethics. This is a course that bridges the gap between the moral and ethical aspects of health care delivery and the legal constructs that surround them. Topics to be covered include human genetics, cloning and reproduction, legal issues related to death and dying including medically assisted dying and the regulation of research involving human subjects. This course will allow the student to explore the intersection of the law and policy for these and other bioethical issues.
For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.
Biotechnology increasingly challenges existing paradigms of legal rights and responsibilities causing many commentators to challenge predominant definitions of human life, personhood, human autonomy, and the ethical foundations of the patient-physician relationship. The repercussions of this discussion and debate are found in policy and law relating to foundational issues such as abortion, human reproduction, human genetic manipulation, scientific study, death, access to health care services, intellectual property and ownership of biological material, marriage, parent-child relationships, end-of-life care and decisions, the allocation of medical resources, and individual autonomy. Moreover, public health policy developments increasingly entwine ethics and positive law such that those interested or seeking employment in the fields of medicine, public health, public policy, medical technologies, pharmaceuticals, hospital administration, and law are encouraged to take this course.
Measurable Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Analyze legal materials, including statutes, case law, case law interpretation, and related articles in order to assimilate these teachings and obtain the ability to articulate an understanding of the issues that encompass the study of bioethics and the laws that govern them in the United States.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the historical foundations of bioethics in the United States, with emphasis on the biblical perspective and the premises on which the rules of law in this subject area are based.
- Identify legal issues in factual bioethical scenarios and then state and apply the principles and rules of law to these issues, arguing both sides of the issue and then deciding how a judge might rule on the issue.
- Identify the issues and legal framework surrounding the subject of human life, including personhood, gene identification, gene therapy and cloning, contraception, abortion, sterilization, and assisted reproductive technologies.
- Understand the constitutional foundation for healthcare decisions about death and dying, including determinations about the decisional capacity of adults and children.
- Understand the constitutional framework for issues related to medically-assisted dying and related legal initiatives and litigation under state law.
- Understand the history of medical research involving human subjects and how it has shaped our current legal construct.
Textbook readings and lecture presentations
Course Requirements Checklist
After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.
Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. Each thread must be at least 400 words, support claims with at least two scholarly sources, and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 200 words and cite at least one scholarly source. (MLOs: A, C, D, E, F)
What Is a Person Paper Assignment
The student will write a 1200–1500-word paper answering the question, “What is a person, and why does it matter?” The paper must contain at least 5 references in addition to citing the course textbook and the Bible. The paper must adhere to current Bluebook formatting. (MLOs: A, B, C, D, E, F, G)
Bioethics and Law Paper Assignment
The student will choose a topic in the field of bioethics and write a research-based paper on the topic selected. This assignment is broken down into 3 parts.
Bioethics and Law Paper: Proposal Assignment
The student will write a 750-word proposal for the Bioethics and Law Paper. The proposal will include the specific topic for the paper, thesis statement, and 10 preliminary scholarly sources from within the last 10 years. The proposal must adhere to current Bluebook formatting. (MLOs: A, B, C, D, E, F, G)
Bioethics and Law Paper: Annotated Bibliography Assignment
The student will identify 10 scholarly sources relevant to the legal, moral, biblical, and ethical implications of the definition of personhood. For the 10 sources, the student must prepare an annotation of 150 words per source. The sources here may be used for the Bioethics and Law Paper. This assignment must adhere to current Bluebook formatting. (MLOs: A, B, C, D, E, F, G)
Bioethics and Law Paper: Final Assignment
Based on the topic outlined in the proposal and the feedback from the instructor, the student will write a 3500–4500-word research paper. The paper must include at least 20 scholarly references in addition to the course textbook and the Bible. This assignment must adhere to current Bluebook formatting. (MLOs: A, B, C, D, E, F, G)