In this lecture I begin an exploration of the role that respect for human life plays in contemporary bioethics. Although many bioethical dilemmas could be chosen to illustrate this role, I will focus on the case of physician-assisted suicide. This lecture emphasizes the role that respect for human life plays in arbitrating bioethical disputes that involve physician-assisted suicide. I hope to develop some generalizations about how respect for life and autonomy, beneficence and other values interact and thus constitute or define what respect for life means for us. Part I discusses assisted suicide and the ban against actively killing. Part II highlights the Supreme Court cases and the symbolic lines that have been drawn.


Sixty-Fifth Cleveland-Marshall Fund Lecture