Legal Approaches to Bioethics

Course Number
3000 (Bioethics)
Course Instructor(s)
Maria McDonald

Course Description

The purpose of this half-year course is to familiarize non-law students with basic legal principles, leading judgments and legislation in Canada, and international human rights instruments covering a spectrum of bioethical issues, addressed primarily at the microethical level. The readings are focused on exploring the concept of ethical justice, or fairness, in the law as applied to healthcare (specifically we will be concentrating on substantive, procedural, and distributive justice). Topics will be chosen from: legal duties to future generations and the unborn; parental powers and duties and adolescent autonomy; reproductive health and rights; consent and capacity; privacy and confidentiality; medically-assisted reproduction; transplantation and control of tissues outside the body; death, natural death and medically-assisted death; resource allocation; public health; human rights; and global health.

Course Objectives

To familiarize students with styles of legal reasoning and analysis, the background premises and orientations of Canadian law and its conditioning influences, and to project this understanding onto a series of central issues in bioethics. Materials will be drawn from analyses and syntheses in legal literature, and from judgments of Canadian and related courts or tribunals.

Methods of Assessment

Class participation 20%
Short paper 25%
Final paper 55%

General Requirements

The course is compulsory for students in the MHSc Bioethics program.  Interested students outside this program may ask to be considered.