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Social Movements and the Transformation of American Health Care$
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Jane Banaszak-Holl, Sandra Levitsky, and Mayer Zald

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388299

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388299.001.0001

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The “Hostile Takeover” of Bioethics by Religious Conservatives and the Counter Offensive *

The “Hostile Takeover” of Bioethics by Religious Conservatives and the Counter Offensive *

Chapter:
(p.144) 10 The “Hostile Takeover” of Bioethics by Religious Conservatives and the Counter Offensive*
Source:
Social Movements and the Transformation of American Health Care
Author(s):

Renee R. Anspach

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388299.003.0010

This chapter examines how a social movement/counter‐movement focus illuminates the attempt by some members of the religious right to change the orientations and assumptions of mainstream bioethicists. The mainstream of bioethics had developed in the last half century. Although discussion of ethical issues in medicine date at least back to Hippocrates in the fourth century BCE, bioethics as a specialized academic topic, combining medical choices and analysis, and as an explicit part of hospital and general practice, is a fairly recent development. The chapter shows how the conflict over whether Terry Schiavo should be taken off of life support provided a window for the religious right to challenge the then‐current standards of when someone's life could be terminated. They did it by using a variety of social movement tactics, including use of the media, court battles, and demonstrations. But they also set up alternative curricula, founded institutes and used the discourse of bioethics. In turn, mainstream bioethicists developed tactics that mirrored those used by the religious right. In the end, the assumptions of an academic sub‐discipline had been put in political play.

Keywords:   religious right, bioethics, social movements, counter‐movement, academic discipline, termination of life, Terry Schiavo

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