7 Patients with serious brain damage
Since 1997 the European Unity has accepted a Bioethics-Convention to which most member-states have agreed. According to article 17 paragraph 2 of that convention it is a right of medical research to test patients with a temporary loss of consciousness even if the patients have not agreed. Such patients could be- come objects for medical research also if they, themselves, have no benefit. The research refers to common purposes but not to individual support of the patients. The opposite is true: Research is legitimate even if the patient gets harmed as long as the harm is only careful. I cite: “Research entails only minimal risk and minimal burden for the individual concerned.”27 Thus also shortening the life- span, if it is only at minimal risk, is legitimate. Therefore one only needs the support of a representative or of a court for such a research of patients in vegeta- tive state. This article of the European convention is an example of the suggestive claim of neuroscience. The suggestion is: Everything the human is and everything the human deserves depends on his or her brain. After brain damage the human right decreases. Actually one could argue in the opposite direction: One could object that a patient with a cognitive disorder needs even more protection rights than other humans because he could be harmed much more easily. But the socio- political climate which is influenced by neuroscience tends to the position that people with a cognitive disorder are weakened in their sensitiveness....
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