Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Book Review

Ethics in Reproductive and Perinatal Medicine: A New Framework, by Carson Strong. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. 247 pp.

The Perfect Baby: A Pragmatic Approach to Genetics, by Glenn McGee. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997. 166 pp.

New Ways of Making Babies: The Case of Egg Donation, by Cynthia B. Cohen, ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996. 332 pp.

Julien S.  Murphy a1
a1 University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine


The major dilemma for bioethics is choosing an appropriate method of ethical analysis, one that when applied to individual cases can illuminate if not resolve vexing ethical issues for providers and their patients. Two of these books offer direction in this regard. The framework Carson Strong adopts and makes a compelling case for in Ethics in Reproductive and Perinatal Medicine: A New Framework is one of modified casuistry. Casuistry, imported to bioethics by Jonsen and Toulmin, is a practical, case-based method of ethical decisionmaking. It relies on comparison between moral factors in a case under consideration and in paradigm cases with justifications for different outcomes. The preferred course of action is the one warranted by the paradigm case that most resembles the case under consideration. Strong's framework is a modified form of casuistry because it takes into account social and political views and allows for, upon occasion, a prioritization of values across cases.