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
Email: yeruham@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

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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