POLS 323 – Biomedicine and the Law

Spring 2009

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

 

What is the process by which the law responds to and anticipates developments in rapidly changing biomedical technologies? In this course we will cover significant judicial opinions and legislative activities in the area of biomedical law and ethics. You can expect to gain an appreciation of how the law changes over time; an awareness of the role of professional associations in policy making;  practice in interpreting legal documents and making legal arguments; and greater understanding of the issues underlying reproductive technologies, end of life decision making, genetic testing, and other matters prominent in contemporary society.  

 

TEXTBOOK:

Barry R. Furrow, et al. Bioethics: Health Care Law and Ethics. St. Paul MN:

            Thomson/West, 2008. 6th edition.

 

JANUARY 13, 15      INTRODUCTION

Principles of bioethics, 1-5

Theories of bioethics, 5-11

New approaches to bioethics, 11-14

Codes of ethics, 14-19

Relationship between ethics and law, 19-22

 

JANUARY 20, 22      DEFINING PERSONHOOD

Attributes of being a person, 23-31

Constitutional, statutory, common law dimensions, 31-39

 

JANUARY 27, 29      FEBRUARY 3, 5, 10, 12 ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES 

Introduction, 99-105

Uniform Parentage Act, 105-107

Frozen embryos (Davis v. Davis), 120-133

Surrogacy (In re Baby M, Johnson v. Calvert), 133-150)

Reproductive cloning, 158-162

Stem cell research, 163-166

 

FEBUARY 17, 19       FETAL-MATERNAL DECISION-MAKING

In re AC, 166-176

 

FEBRUARY 24, 26    LEGAL ISSUES IN HUMAN GENETICS

Introduction, 189-198

Privacy issues, 203-204

Discrimination, 204-206

Genetic screening of newborns, 215-216

 

MARCH 3      MIDTERM EXAM

 

MARCH 5, 17 DEFINING DEATH

Development of brain death definition, 217-226

Organ donation (In re TACP), 226-229

 

MARCH 19, 24, 26, 31, APRIL 2, 7, 9   DECISIONS NEAR THE END OF LIFE

Constitutional dimensions (Cruzan v. Director), 245-261

Competent patients (Bouvia v. Superior Court), 261-269

Determining competency, 279-283

Advance directives and proxies, 287-294

When preferences are not known (In re Conroy), 304-305)

When families disagree (Guardianship of Schiavo), 325-331

When a person was never competent (Belchertown v. Saikewicz), 334-336

When a person was never competent (In re Storar), 336-338

Deciding for children (Newmark v. Williams), 342-348

Physician-assisted suicide (Washington v. Glucksberg), 374-385

Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, 393-400

 

APRIL 14, 16             ALLOCATING SCARCE HUMAN ORGANS

Selecting recipients, 456-458

Regulatory dimensions, 458-463

 

APRIL 21, 23, 28, 30  GOVERNMENT LIMITS ON REPRODUCTION

Contraception, 39-43

Abortion (Roe v. Wade), 47-53

Abortion (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), 53-62 skim

Sterilization, 83-76

Wrongful birth, life, conception, 87-99

 

MAY 5            FINAL EXAM  

 

SOME USEFUL WEBSITES

            www.oyez.org (U.S.Supreme Court)

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

            www.uscourts.gov (all courts)

            supremecourtus.gov (U.S. Supreme Court)

www.bioethics.upenn.edu

See dai ly New York Times for coverage of legal biomedical issues  

 

GRADES AND OTHER MATTERS

Grades will be based on two exams worth 55 points each, 7 short papers worth 10 points each, and a participation/attendance score worth 20 points. The points and due dates are:

 

Short paper 1                           10 points                      January 22

Short paper 2                           10 points                      February 5

Short paper 3                           10 points                      February 19

Midterm exam                          55 points                      March 3

Short paper 4                           10 points                      March 5

Short paper 5                           10 points                      March 26

Short paper 6                           10 points                      April 9

Short paper 7                           10 points                      April 23 (hand in all papers)  

Final exam                                55 points                      May 5

Attendance/participation           20 points

                                                ______

                                               200 points

 

180– 200 = A; 160 – 179 = B; 140 - 159 = C; 120 – 139 = D; below l20 = F

 

Exams. -- The midterm exam is scheduled for March 5 and the final exam for May 5. Information about the nature of the exams will be given ahead of time. Make-up exams will be given only for documented serious illness or a death in the family and only if you contact me AHEAD of the exam (753-7059 -- leave a message if necessary).

 

Short papers. – This set of assignments provides a setting for you actively to think about questions posed in the book. It will give practice in developing arguments, addressing counter-arguments, and clarifying your own positions on biomedical issues. Every two weeks I will give to you in class a topic upon which to write (the topic will also be posted on BlackBoard. The topic will normally come from questions posed in the textbook.

 

Every two weeks you will then submit a typed paper of 1-1/2 to 2 double spaced typed (NOT double-double spaced) pages with normal one-inch margins. If there is a choice of questions to address, please let me know briefly at the top of the first page the topic of your entry and relevant page number(s) from the book. In the paper, you should seriously grapple with the legal dimensions of the question and reveal the nuances of your thinking. You should also come up with clear and supported conclusions. You are welcome to customize your papers (e.g., use images) as long as you include 1-1/2 to 2 pages of text. If you use outside sources, give a full citation so I can look up the source if necessary. All papers will be scanned through SafeAssign, a program in the BlackBoard system. Details will be given during the first 2 weeks of class.

 

Each entry will be due in hard copy in class. If you cannot be in class that day, slide the entries under my door ahead of time in Zulauf 401. E-mailed entries will not be accepted. Late entries will not be accepted unless you have a serious and documented health problem and have contacted me ahead of time.

 

Each paper will be graded on a 10 point scale. Keep each paper in order to hand them all in together at the end of the semester (April 23) for an overall paper grade.  The following will count in assigning a paper grade: 

 

 

 

    • Thoughtful, serious, grounded, and critical papers
    • Link to readings and class discussions
    • Grammar, spelling, and clear argumentation

 

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, 20 points will be allocated as follows:

 18 – 20 points = regular, informed participation; 1 or 2 absences

 16 – 17 points = occasional and thoughtful participation; 3 or 4 absences

 14 – 15 points = occasional participation; 5 absences

 12 – 13 points = infrequent attendance (6 to 7 absences)

 10 – 11 points = rare attendance  (8 to 10 absences)

5            points = more than 10 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. I 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 or give a presentation in class. Participation in these groups will count toward class participation.

 

Plagiarism. -- “The attempt of any student to present as his or her own work that which he or she has not produced is regarded by the faculty and administration as a serious offense. Students are considered to have cheated if they copy the work or another during an examination or turn in a paper or an assignment written, in whole or in part, by someone else. Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazine, or other sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university.” Northern Illinois University Undergraduate Catalog

 

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 (2008) can be considered for the 2009 award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the 2008 competition even if the author has graduated.