BIOETHICS - A Primer for Christians by Gilbert Meilaender, William Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996, 120 pp.

Review by Del Meyer, MD

Dr Meilaender gives us a rapid overview into the many ethical issues of our day. He points out how recent most of these developments have occurred. What our children take for granted, was not even discussed twenty-five years ago. Many of our children assume that feeding tubes should be withdrawn from permanently unconscious patients; yet that step was not even seriously considered in the Quinlan case in 1976 when the family went to court for that very reason. (As a pulmonologist who manages patients routinely on life support and determines daily the status of the respiratory drive of patients on a ventilator, it always struck me as strange that the whole judicial process apparently made the doctors so nervous that they failed to even determine Karen Quinlan's ability to breath on her own. After the many months in court, when the machine was taken off, Karen continued to breath on her own.)

Meilaender writes authoritatively. He does not believe in taking surveys in how we should proceed--he espouses how he feels a Christian should proceed. He discusses where life begins, procreation versus reproduction, assisted reproduction, surrogacy, abortion, personhood, privacy, genetic therapy, and prenatal screening. The author also treads on today's treacherous waters of suicide and euthanasia and provides insight into incompetency, who decides, organ donation, and human experimentation.

For a rapid introduction into a new and rapidly expanding field, Meilaender elucidates it very well for us. The book is easily available at your local book store.