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Bioethics and the Law: Law


The United States Congress and state legislatures have and continue to create laws touching on many areas of concern in bioethics.  Links shown below are to suggested online resources for researching state and federal statutes.  Also recommended are state and federal statute databases in Lexis Advance, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law.

The Constitution of the United States

United States Code

Title 28:  Judiciary and Judicial Procedure

Title 42:  The Public Health and Welfare

E.g., 42 U.S.C. § 289g.  Fetal research.

Statutes of Pennsylvania and the Constitution of Pennsylvania

Legal Information InstituteConstitutions, Statutes, and Codes

Uniform Laws Annotated:

Uniform Determination of Death Act of 1980

Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (2006)


Regulation are a significant source of law in the Bioethical field.  Generally speaking, executive agencies are, by statute, delegated sufficient authority to promulgate regulations in order to effectively enforce certain related statutes.  Research federal regulations dealing with bioehtics and related issues with the following resources:

Code of Federal Regulations

Title 45, Public Welfare, Part 46, Protection of Human Subjects

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR)

Use the Federal Register (published daily) and the List of Sections Affected (LSA) to research the latest changes to federal regulations.

Federal Register

CFR List of Sections Affected (LSA)

State Regulations:

Pennsylvania Code

Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C.:  State Legislatures, State Laws, and State Regulations


Issues in Bioethics may be litigated in state or federal court.  Case-law from the federal courts may be particularly useful, as bioethical issues frequently implicate basic rights.  Case law may be searched using Lexis Advance, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law.  The following resources are also recommended:

United States Supreme Court Opinions:

Supreme Court of the United States

United States Reports (Second Floor; Compact Shelving, KF101 .A3)

United States Law Week

Other Case Resources:

West Key Number System, e.g., Topic number 198H Health

Court websites:

Pennsylvania Unified Court System

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Archived Opinions of the Third Circuit)

Additional state and federal court websites may be found online