1. A Single Question Part I. A Moral System Evolves 2. An Exclusionary Movement is Born 3. Legal Reform to Eliminate Defectives 4. Redrawing the Boundaries of Protected Life 5. Crystallizing Events and Ethical Principles Part II. The Early Moments and Months of Life 6. A Bolt from the Blue: Abortion is Legalized 7. Man's Law or God's Will 8. Inches from Life 9. Should the Baby Live? Part III. The Boundaries of Tolerable Suffering 10. Limits to Tolerable Suffering 11. Alleviating Suffering and Protecting Life 12. God, Duty, and Life Worth Living 13. Assisted Dying Part IV. Taking Life and Inflicting Suffering 14. Removing the Protective Boundaries of Life 15. A Campaign to Stop the Executions 16. The Pendulum Swings, the Debate Continues 17. Lessons Learned
Sheldon Ekland-Olson is the Audre and Bernard Centennial Professor at The University of Texas at Austin, where he served as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Executive Vice President and Provost. He is the winner of numerous teaching awards, and one of his classes was once listed among the 10 Hottest Courses in the Nation. His previous publications include The Rope, The Chair and the Needle, Texas Prisons, and Justice Under Pressure.
'...a gripping, lucid account of the legal, medical, and ethical history behind brutally difficult social decisions concerning who has the right to decide whether someone should live or die, and what reasons count as acceptable. Using a fresh narrative approach free of both abstraction and polemics, Ekland-Olson provides compelling stories of landmark cases that crystallized thought and motivated social movements to deal with ethical concerns associated with abortion, the preservation of life for desperately incurable infants, legal reforms to sterilize 'defective' human beings, medical experiments on vulnerable people, eugenics legislation to improve the health of the fittest, assisted dying, the occurrence of terrible post-Civil War lynchings, and the mottled history of capital punishment in the US...This volume includes a detailed table of contents, key quotations throughout, and an excellent bibliography. It should be read and discussed widely, for both its content and approach. Summing Up: Highly recommended.'
-S. A. Mason, Concordia University in CHOICE, May 2012