HARD CHOICES: Mixed Blessings of Modern Medical Technology by B.D. Colen

HARD CHOICES: Mixed Blessings of Modern Medical Technology

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Colen, who won a Pulitzer for his Newsday articles on Baby Jane Doe, examines the questions, problems and ramifications raised by recent medical advances. In America today, we are saving slightly more than half the lives of extremely low-weight newborns along with many seriously handicapped infants. The technology is in place, says Colen, but few are seriously evaluating the question of allocating the enormous costs of these admittedly humanitarian efforts against other perhaps even more humanitarian programs. While we are extending life-saving techniques to the newborn, the same goes for the terminally ill and elderly, many of whom are sustained on a $2 billion federal kidney dialysis program that could escalate to $40 billion annually. The costs of these modern medical miracles come at a time when we are cutting back on care for the handicapped and even on children's free-lunch and immunization programs. Colen, however, goes beyond the cost-benefit equation to explore ethical, legal and emotional ramifications of these technologies, including fertility procedures, ""test tube"" babies, surrogate motherhood, genetic engineering to eliminate inherited birth defects, operations on fetuses, the rights of frozen embryos and so on. The dilemmas seem almost endless and the varieties of possible trade-offs mind-boggling. He brings home some of the options via striking case histories about people caught in the bewildering thicket created by high-tech medical technology who have either benefited or, conversely, suffered fruitlessly. Although the problems dealt with by Colen have been examined in recent books and numerous articles, his presentation is vivid and stimulating.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 1986
Publisher: Putnam