After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver

After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver

Hardback

By (author) Norman L. Cantor

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  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 229mm x 30mm | 749g
  • Publication date: 15 November 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Washington, DC
  • ISBN 10: 1589016955
  • ISBN 13: 9781589016958
  • Edition: 1
  • Sales rank: 604,601

Product description

What will become of our earthly remains? What happens to our bodies during and after the various forms of cadaver disposal available? Who controls the fate of human remains? What legal and moral constraints apply? Legal scholar Norman Cantor provides a graphic, informative, and entertaining exploration of these questions. "After We Die" chronicles not only a corpse's physical state but also its legal and moral status, including what rights, if any, the corpse possesses. In a claim sure to be controversial, Cantor argues that a corpse maintains a "quasi-human status" granting it certain protected rights - both legal and moral. One of a corpse's purported rights is to have its predecessor's disposal choices upheld. "After We Die" reviews unconventional ways in which a person can extend a personal legacy via their corpse's role in medical education, scientific research, or tissue transplantation. This underlines the importance of leaving instructions directing post-mortem disposal. Another cadaveric right is to be treated with respect and dignity. "After We Die" outlines the limits that "post-mortem human dignity" poses upon disposal options, particularly the use of a cadaver or its parts in educational or artistic displays. Contemporary illustrations of these complex issues abound. In 2007, the well-publicized death of Anna Nicole Smith highlighted the passions and disputes surrounding the handling of human remains. Similarly, following the 2003 death of baseball great Ted Williams, the family in-fighting and legal proceedings surrounding the corpse's proposed cryogenic disposal also raised contentious questions about the physical, legal, and ethical issues that emerge after we die. In the tradition of Sherwin Nuland's "How We Die", Cantor carefully and sensitively addresses the post-mortem handling of human remains.

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Author information

Norman L. Cantor is a distinguished professor emeritus at Rutgers Law School, Newark, who taught in the fields of constitutional law, contracts, and bioethics. He has published widely in legal and medical journals on the topic of the legal handling of dying medical patients, and is the author of three books: Making Medical Decisions for the Profoundly Mentally Disabled, Advance Directives and the Pursuit of Death with Dignity, and Legal Frontiers of Death and Dying.

Review quote

"Highly readable and offers several examples of Cantor's wry sense of humor. It also reveals an extraordinary depth and breadth of research and advances a number of serious conclusions." -- Journal of Legal Medicine "A fascinating book, written in a lively, accessible style." -- Choice "Although death is a universal experience, few of us have looked beyond the simple choice between burial and cremation. For those who share the author's curiosity, Mr. Cantor has provided an informative, thorough, and often entertaining explication of the fate of our bodies." -- New York Journal of Books "Norman Cantor has taken a subject that could be dull and dry and written an extensive and interesting account of the various customs and practical questions that might arise concerning the care of a corpse... Cantor's ingenuity is manifested by his ability to present lively examples and intriguing anecdotes." -- Health Progress

Table of contents

Introduction Part I: Status and Rights of the Cadaver 1. When Does a Person Become a Corpse? 2. The Human Nature of a Cadaver 3. The Legal Status of the Postliving: Do Corpses Have Rights? Part II: Disposition of Human Remains 4. Decomposition of the Body and Efforts to Slow Its Disintegration 5. Final Disposal of Human Remains 6. Eternal Preservation of the Deceased: Literally and Figuratively Part III: The Multiple Roles of a Cadaver 7. The Cadaver as Supplier of Used Body Parts 8. The Cadaver as Teacher, Research Subject, or Forensic Witness 9. The Cadaver as Parent Part IV: Abuses of the Cadaver: What Does Decency Demand? 10. Body Snatching, Then and Now 11. Desecration of Human Remains 12. Public Display and the Dignity of Human Remains 13. Don't Neglect the Fate of Your Remains Notes Bibliography List of Cases Index