POLS 323 – Biomedicine and the Law

Fall 2005

Andrea Bonnicksen, Zulauf 401 (753-7059), albcorn@niu.edu


This semester we will examine legal and social regulation relating to assisted reproductive technologies, end-of-life decision making, informed consent, and other subjects related to biomedical policy and ethics. Using a legal casebook, we will review cases, essays, and questions that relate to the role of autonomy in contemporary biomedical law. In this class you can expect to (l) understand the role of precedent in the evolution of law, (2) trace the development of law in specific areas of medicine, (3) gain experience in briefing cases, and (4) gain a foundation for grappling with legal issues remaining in contemporary biomedical ethics.



Marsha Garrison and Carl E. Schneider, The Law of Bioethics: Individual Autonomy and

            Social Regulation. St. Paul, MN: The West Group, 2003.

Internet materials are indicated below by their URLs. Please print them for use in class.

Materials posted on electronic reserve are indicated as ER below. They will be available

            by the third week of class. Other materials will occasionally be available on

            NIU’s Blackboard system.



    Citation styles, writing case briefs           

    Garrison and Schneider, 1-26

            Nature of illness

            Hippocratic Oath and AMA Principles of Medical Ethics

            Bioethical principles

            The question of regulation



Garrison and Schneider, 27-54, 61-63, 70- 108, 133-136, 146-150

            Informed consent

            Canterbury v. Spence (1972)

            Principles of informed consent



     Garrison and Schneider, 190-203, 207-215, 219-224

     George J. Annas, “’Culture of Life’ Politics at the Bedside – The Case of Terri         Schiavo.” New England Journal of Medicine 352(16):1710-15 (April 21, 2005).       ER      

      Timothy E. Quill, “Terri Schiavo – A Tragedy Compounded.” New England Journal

            of Medicine 352(16):1630-33 (April 21, 2005). ER

      S. 686.For the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo.” 109th Congress. 1st

            Session. U.S. Senate, March 20, 2005. ER

      Garrison and Schneider, 233-246, 267-283, 289-308, 321-322, 350-370

            Defining death: In re Welfare of Bowman (1980)

            Relationship between death and organ transplantation

            Changing the definition of death? In re T.A.C.P. (1992)

Stopping end of life treatment

Do Not Resuscitate orders

When the patient is not dying: Bouvia v. Superior Court (1986)

                                                  McKay v. Bergstedt (1990)

Patient autonomy

Religious duties: In re Matter of Dubreuil (1993)

Leaving evidence of wishes: Cruzan v. Director 497 U.S. 261 (1990)

Advance directives: sample laws, enforcing ADs, drafting ADs



    Garrison and Schneider, 825-884

            Frozen embryos: Davis v. Davis (1992)

            Research using embryos: Lifchez v. Hartigan (1990)

            Determining parenthood: Johnson v. Calvert (1993)

                                                     Moschetta v. Moschetta (1994)

                                                     In re Buzzanca (1998)

            Regulating assisted reproductive technologies





     Garrison and Schneider, 645-702, 707-716, 722-738

            Moore v. Regents of the University of California (1990)

            Hecht v. Superior Court (Kane) (1993)

McFall v. Shimp (1978)

Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (1987)

State of Florida v. Powell (1986)

Retrieving spermatozoa after death

Need for organs

Mandated choice proposal

Marketing human organs

Leaving the field

Marketing ova and spermatozoa





    Garrison and Schneider, 467-475, 485-493, 506-512, 555-594, 601-608

            Deciding competence: Lane v. Candura (1978)

When patients were once competent: In re Conroy (1984)

Substituted judgment and best interest standards

Making medical decisions for children

The older child

Newborn infants

Conjoined twins





    Garrison and Schneider, 326-337, 399-413, 431-439, 451-457

            The case of Diane

            Physician-assisted suicide: Washington v. Glucksberg 521 U.S. 702 (1997)

            Oregon legislation permitting physician-assisted suicide

            Oregon v. Ashcroft 368 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir.2004). Available at the following:

                        www.findlaw.com and then:

                                    Professionals – browse by jurisdiction – federal

                                    U.S. Courts of Appeal (9th Cir.)

                                    Docket # 02-35587

                                    Print majority opinion (pp. 1-24)

            Netherlands legislation permitting physician-assisted suicide



      Garrison and Schneider, 739-765

            Abortion: Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

            Abortion: Planned Parenthood v. Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992)  


TEST # 3 DECEMBER 7  6:00 – 7:50 p.m.



            oyez.org (U.S.Supreme Court)

            http://thomas.loc.gov (U.S. legislative, executive, judicial branches)





See daily New York Times for coverage of legal biomedical issues  



Grades will be based on three in-class and one take-home exam worth 50 points each and a participation score worth 30 points.


Exam # 1                                  50 points                      October 5

Exam # 2                                  50 points                      November 2

Exam # 3                                  50 points                      December 7

Paper                                       40 points                      November 16

Two legal briefs (5 pts each)     10 points                      To be announced

Participation                             20 points


                                               220 points


198 – 220 = A; 176 – 197 = B; 154 - 175 = C; 132 – 153 = D; below l32 = F


Exams.—Exams will be given October 5, November 2, and December 7. The first of these exams will be open-book. If this format works well and people do their own writing, the second and third in-class exams will be open-book also. Make-up exams will be given only for documented medical reasons or a death in the family and only if the instructor is notified by telephone BEFORE the examination (815-753-7059). On exam days, class will resume for the approximately one hour after the exam is completed.


Briefs.—Two written briefs of cases covered in class will be due in writing early in the semester to give experience in writing briefs and receiving feedback. Each should be approximately one typed single-spaced page. Each will be worth 5 points. Subheadings will be:

I.   Facts

II.  Question(s) for the court

III. Ruling

IV. Reasoning.


Papers. – A paper worth 40 points will be due November 16. Several hypothetical cases will be given in class. Each student will select a case of interest and take on the role of legal counsel for one of the cases. Each will write a paper arguing for the client’s position in court. The papers are to be 5-6 double-spaced pages long.


Participation. – All class members are expected to read the material before it is covered in class and participate in discussions that will revolve around questions posed by the book’s authors. To encourage careful reading and informed discussion based on the reading, 20 points will be allocated as follows:

 18 – 20 points = regular, informed participation

                            regular attendance (1 or no absences)

 16 – 17 points = occasional and thoughtful participation

                           attendance (2 or fewer absences)

 14 – 15 points = fairly regular attendance (3 absences)

 12 – 13 points = infrequent attendance (4 absences)

 10 – 11 points = rare attendance (5 absences)

5            points = more than 5 absences

Attendance credit is given to those who remain the entire class session. Those who must leave a few minutes early should mention this to me before class begins. To make sure all have a chance to contribute I will occasionally call on students. I also appeal to the grace of individuals who are more talkative to raise their hands to be recognized before speaking so that all students may be given the opportunity to contribute. Occasionally students will be asked to break into groups to discuss an issue. Participation in these groups will count toward class participation.


Manners.-- You are asked to arrive on time at 6:30. If lateness becomes a problem during the semester, I will close the door and post a note requesting no one to enter. If you have an appointment that requires you to leave early, let me know ahead of time and then sit in a chair near the door. Turn off cell phones before class begins.


CAAR.-- NIU can make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Students with disabilities for which they may need accommodations should contact the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building during the first two weeks of the semester.


Paper awards.-- The Department of Political Science annually recognizes outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses (all majors are welcome to compete). Winners are expected to attend the Department’s spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Submit three papers from any undergraduate political science class to a department secretary in Zulauf 315 by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages – one with the student’s name and one without. Only papers written in the previous calendar year (2004) can be considered for the 2006 award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the 2006 competition even if the author has graduated.


Website. -- You are encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science website (http://polisci.niu.edu) to help you contact faculty and staff, explore graduate programs and career options, and track department events and activities.