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Publication Citation

3 (1) IUSTITIA 29 (1975)

Abstract

Certain biomedical technologies already or almost already with us "threaten to reduce the meaning of man and to degrade the human spirit in the very process of becoming technologically feasible, long before the final stage of deployment and widespread use has been reached." It is this threat that has prompted me to consider certain medical and legal problems associated broadly with the human experimentation process. I shall be examining the concept of "informed consent" to both experimental medical therapy and nontherapeutic scientific experimentation as a means of protecting man from the potential ravages of a zealous application of scientific advances in the biomedical sphere. The problems surrounding human experimentation seem to be an especially fruitful area for research, for they starkly present the tensions between two fundamental values of Western civilization: the protection of individual inviolability and the freedom of scientific inquiry. Where values conflict and competing policies vie for public attention, acceptance, and funding, then the law is often called upon to mediate the ensuing conflicts. We shall examine the role that law can effectively play in the human experimentation process.