Some Ethical and Legal Aspects of Health Demography

  • Jacob S. Siegel


Health demography presents numerous issues having ethical and legal implications, as we shall see. This chapter describes only some of them and hence is only illustrative, not comprehensive. The discussion is divided into two main parts, issues relating to fertility and issues relating to mortality, with health issues being the umbrella theme. Ethical and legal aspects of health demography encompass issues pertaining to sex, age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic categories, access to and quality of health care as affected by membership in one or other of these classes, and the definitions, and hence the determination, of life and death. In recent decades many bioethical issues, some old and some new, have been vigorously debated publicly. These issues include such matters as: The commercialization of childbirth and health; the control over the characteristics of newborn children; the timing of the beginning and end of human life; the right to bear children, terminate a pregnancy, and die; the right to medical care and the rationing of health care; and the proper subjects and objects of medical research. The resolution of these issues involves the application of ethical principles, moral guidelines, and value judgments, following various philosophical, religious, and legal traditions. Research in this area defines the field of medical bioethics. This field has grown as the variety and complexity of issues involving value judgments in health and medicine have grown. Technological developments relating to the beginning and end of life, new diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, and advances in medical knowledge have all contributed in no small part to the emergence and salience of these issues.


Brain Death Assisted Reproductive Technology Stem Cell Research Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis Persistent Vegetative State 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.J. Stuart Siegel Demographic ServicesNorth BethesdaUSA

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