The Legal Status of Brain-Based Determinations of Death
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.
KeywordsBrain Death Legal Status Artificial Support Irreversible Cessation Irreversible Coma
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