Should physicians & patients really be "educated" to have attitudes appropriate to recently enacted laws: Commentary on Sadan and Chajek-Shaul

- Yeruham Frank Leavitt, Ph.D.
Chairman, The Centre for International Bioethics
Faculty of Health Sciences
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 10 (2000), 125.
Reviewing an earlier draft of this paper, I wondered whether data gathered at one hospital (Hadassah) can really be generalized to statements about the country as a whole. But the confirmation by the research which the authors cite by Tabenkin et al, as well as anecdotal information which I hear here in the south of Israel, suggest that Israel's Patient's Rights Law is perhaps not really matched by the attitudes and practice of physicians and patients.

But when a law, which may be in accord with internationally accepted doctrine (at least in the West) does not match the attitudes and practice of the people, I wonder if this necessarily means that the people are, so to speak, behind-the-times, and in need of education. Maybe doctrine which is internationally accepted in Western and Northern countries is inappropriate to other cultures? I think this was one of the major points behind the founding of the Asian Bioethics Movement. In this particular case of incongruency between law and popular attitudes and practice, I do not want to try to say who is to blame. But I would be hesitant to say straight out that the law is right and the people are wrong. I would rather first try to investigate the cultural reasons for the incongruency.

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