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Bioethics and the Transformation of 
Health Care in America

A M Y   G U T M A N N andJ O N A T H A N   D.  

An incisive examination of bioethics and American healthcare, and their profound affects on American culture over the last sixty years, from two eminent scholars.

An eye-opening look at the inevitable moral choices that come along with tremendous medical progress, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die is a primer for all Americans to talk more honestly about health care. Beginning in the 1950s when doctors still paid house calls but regularly withheld the truth from their patients, Amy Gutmann and Jonathan D. Moreno explore an unprecedented revolution in health care and explain the problem with America’s wanting everything that medical science has to offer without debating its merits and its limits. The result: Americans today pay far more for health care while having among the lowest life expectancies and highest infant mortality of any affluent nation.

Gutmann and Moreno―“incisive, influential, and pragmatic thinkers” (Arthur Caplan)―demonstrate that the stakes have never been higher for prolonging and improving life. From health care reform and death-with-dignity to child vaccinations and gene editing, they explain how bioethics came to dominate the national spotlight, leading and responding to a revolution in doctor-patient relations, a burgeoning world of organ transplants, and new reproductive technologies that benefit millions but create a host of legal and ethical challenges.

With striking examples, the authors show how breakthroughs in cancer research, infectious disease, and drug development provide Americans with exciting new alternatives, yet often painful choices. They address head-on the most fundamental challenges in American health care: Why do we pay so much for health care while still lacking universal coverage? How can medical studies adequately protect individuals who volunteer for them? What’s fair when it comes to allocating organs for transplants in truly life-and-death situations?

A lucid and provocative blend of history and public policy, this urgent work exposes the American paradox of wanting to have it all without paying the price.

“[An] astute examination of bioethics as it applies to America's collective health. . . A comprehensive history . . . [An] illuminating assessment of the past, present, and future forms of responsible public health care.” 

Kirkus Reviews

“Targeting a general audience, this title provides a clear and compassionate presentation of complicated topics and

how important it is to confront them.” 

Library Journal

“[Gutmann and Moreno] vividly explore the complexity of the ethical principles underlying scientific advances and emerging medical treatments. . . . Part cultural history, part philosophical enquiry, and part gentle polemic, this valuable survey should become prescribed reading for America’s healthcare practitioners.”

Publishers Weekly

“[Gutmann and Moreno’s] accessible exploration of American health care and bioethics is important and timely.”

— Harvard Magazine