by Stephen Garrard Post
Although based on the revised edition of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics [RBB Ag 95], this shorter work for high schools is not as well organized or as easy to use. Instead of alphabetically arranged entries, here are 18 broader themes with lots of essaylike subdivisions. “Sex and Gender” includes articles on homosexuality, sexism, sex therapy, and women, while “Environment” includes environmental ethics, hazardous wastes, and sustainable development. Some of these issues, of course, overlap tremendously, with confidentiality grouped under “Ethics and Law” but also discussed under “Genetics,” “Stages of Life,” and “Transplants and Other Technical Devices,” among other sections. Hospice is grouped under “Therapies” but also discussed in “Death and Dying.” Fortunately, the indexing makes all of the information, even that in the many sidebars, accessible.
Page design is similar to that in other Macmillan “For Students” sets, with a minor column containing definitions, sidebars, and see also references. Much of the text is taken directly from the parent work, with articles shortened but not necessarily made easier. Credit is given to the original authors, and some updating has been done. Information on multiple births from 1997 and euthanasia laws and court decisions from 1998 is included, as well as completely new information on human cloning. Several appendixes list U.S. legal cases influencing medical ethics, medical codes and oaths, and a glossary is included. The selected bibliography is arranged by topic areas and lists books and articles from the 1990s. Each volume has its own index, and there is a comprehensive index in volume 4.
Unique to this work are the “Related Literature” tie-ins. As examples, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is described in the chapter on fertility and reproduction, and Edward Albee’s play The Sandbox is suggested in the chapter on death. It’s possible that these will help students explore some of the issues the articles raise. Illustrations also make this set more attractive to students.
Is this set an essential purchase? No, especially for schools and libraries that own the Encyclopedia of Bioethics or relevant titles in Greenhaven’s Opposing Viewpoints or other similar series. However, it will be used where bioethics debates or reports are popular. Recommended for high-school and public libraries.