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Robert M. Veatch

Professor of Medical Ethics, Georgetown University

Robert M. Veatch is a leading medical ethicist in the United States often serving as an advisor to professional medical associations legislators and research organizations. He is currently professor of medical ethics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and is former director of the university’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical Center.

Veatch began his studies in pharmacology earning his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University (1961) and a master’s degree in pharmacology from the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco (1962). He then completed his doctorate at Harvard University (1970) in the field of “religion and society,” with a concentration in medical ethics. His time at Harvard included a bachelor’s degree in divinity at the Harvard Divinity School (1967).

Among his many organizational roles Veatch served as director of the Research Group on Death and Dying at the Hastings Center in New York. He was an ethics consultant in preparing the legal case of Karen Ann Quinlan the woman whose parents won the right to forego life-support (1975–76). He also testified in the case of Baby K the anencephalic infant whose mother insisted on the baby’s right to life support. His awards have included honorary doctorates from Creighton University (1999) and Union University (2004). The National Medical Writers Association gave him a national book award. The United Methodist Association and the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities honored him with top achievement awards as well.

Veatch is senior editor of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal and has been a member of the Journal of the American Medical Association editorial board. He has contributed articles to such publications as the Washington Post and is often cited in news reports on medical ethics. He is also the author of several books including The Basics of Bioethics, 3rd ed. (2011). His other books include Case Studies In Nursing Ethics, 4th ed. (2010); Case Studies in Pharmacy Ethics, 2nd ed. (2008); Patient Heal Thyself: How the “New Medicine” Puts the Patient in Charge (2008); Ethical Questions in Dentistry, 2nd ed. (2004); Disrupted Dialogue: Medical Ethics and the Collapse of Physician/Humanist Communication (1770-1980) (2004); Transplantation Ethics (2000); Cross Cultural Perspectives in Medical Ethics, 2nd ed. (2000); Ethical Issues in Death and Dying, 2nd ed. (1995); and The Patient-Physician Relation (1991).

  • L. Witham