Review Robert Baker's Before Bioethics?

Medical History received Robert Baker's Before Bioethics for review in the journal.  Anyone wants to review the book or knows potential scholar who will write a good review?  


  • First history of American medical ethics in over half a century
  • Explains the social empowerment of a hodgepodge of humanists and humanitarian physicians and researchers as "bioethicists."
  • Introduces concept of "morally disruptive technologies" and explains how they changed physicians' concept of their duties towards their patients and impacted our concepts of life, death and doctors' duties.
  • Charts the criminalization and decriminalization of abortion in America and explains the role of morally disruptive technologies.
  • Analyzes the role of medical ethics in the exclusion of African American and female physicians from the AMA and AMA's subsequent apology to African Americans.
  • Offers a voice to ordinary people impacted by medical ethics (or the lack thereof)
  • Documents and analyzes American physicians' abdication of their obligation to treat patients during epidemics.
  • Traces the origins of research ethics committees from 18th-century England, to the first known American committee initiated at the New England Hospital for Women in 1866.
  • First recognition of American midwives oaths as significant contributions to American medical ethics.
  • First comprehensive analysis of American physicians' oaths, tracing their origins to Edinburgh University and the Scottish Enlightenment.
  • First comprehensive analysis of American medical society codes from their origins to the present.
  • Based on extensive research on archives of American medical societies.
  • An on-line appendix to the book provides the texts of medical society codes of ethics of the AIH (homeopathic), AMA, Baltimore, Boston, New York City and New York State codes of medical ethics that defined 19th century medical ethics.

Before Bioethics narrates the history of American medical ethics from its colonial origins to current bioethical controversies over abortion, AIDS, animal rights, and physician-assisted suicide. The first history of American medical ethics published in more than a half century, Before Bioethics tracks the evolution of American medical ethics from colonial midwives and physicians' oaths, to medical society codes and bioethical principles. Applying the concept of "morally disruptive technologies," it analyzes the impact of the stethoscope on conceptions of fetal life and the criminalization of abortion, and the impact of the ventilator on our conception of death and the treatment of the dying. The narrative offers tales of those whose lives were affected by the medical ethics of their era: unwed mothers executed by puritans because midwives found them with stillborn babies; the unlikely trio-an Irishman, a Sephardic Jew and in-the-closet gay public health reformer-who drafted the American Medical Association's code of ethics but received no credit for their achievement, and the founder of American gynecology celebrated during his own era but condemned today because he perfected his surgical procedures on un-anesthetized African American slave women. The book concludes by exploring the reasons underlying American society's empowerment of a hodgepodge of ex-theologians, humanist clinicians and researchers, lawyers and philosophers-the bioethicists-as authorities able to address research ethics scandals and the ethical problems generated by morally disruptive technologies.



Readership: Bioethicists; physicians, nurses, medical educators and other health professionals; researchers, research ethicists, IRB members; philosophers, esp. those who teach bioethics, applied ethics, history of ethics; historians of medicine, historians of science, historians of American History; l· aw school faculty, healthcare lawyers, law students, regulators (federal, local); religious studies, theology; students (suitable as a textbook); general readers (written to be accessible to laypersons). Could be used as a primary or secondary text: undergraduate, graduate and professional school courses on medical ethics, bioethics, or research ethics.