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The Legal Status of Brain-Based Determinations of Death

  • Alexander Morgan Capron

Abstract

The simple answer to the question posed in this volume—What is the legal status of brain death?—is that determinations of death based on the complete and irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain are legally sanctioned by statute or judicial decision in 47 jurisdictions in the United States. Furthermore, there is no reason to think that they would be found invalid in any of the remaining four. Thus, were one addressing his subject solely from the view of the practicing lawyer, the answer to a client’s question “What is the legal status of brain death?,” would be easy and noncontroversial. Why, then, does interest in this topic persist? There are several reasons. Prime among these is the confusion in nomenclature that has led to a conceptual or philosophical confusion, which is to be discussed below.

Keywords

Brain Death Legal Status Artificial Support Irreversible Cessation Irreversible Coma 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Morgan Capron
    • 1
  1. 1.The Law Center and the School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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