After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver
Norman L. Cantor
This new book presents more than you thought you ever wanted to know about the handling of human remains. After We Die (AWD) not only chronicles a cadaver’s physical state during various forms of disposal (including possible steps to inhibit bodily decomposition), it also discusses a cadaver’s legal and moral status.
AWD describes who controls the fate of human remains and the applicable legal bounds. Control of a cadaver is explored with regard not only to mode and place of disposition of remains, but also to use of cadaveric body parts in education, research, tissue transplant, and procreation. AWD ascribes enforceable rights to the insentient cadaver, not just to survivors reacting to what is happening to a corpse. AWD also discusses proposals for increasing cadaveric organ supplies including a presumed consent regime for obtaining body parts critically needed for transplant.
As to moral standing of cadavers, AWD analyses the “quasi-human” status attributed to remains and the protections therefore accorded to cadavers. The book reflects on the limits that “post-mortem human dignity” poses on disposal choices by either a decedent or an agent entitled to make final dispositions. Is it intrinsically disrespectful to exploit human remains in public educational displays, in artistic settings, or for utilitarian purposes as in furniture or clothes?
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