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Frail Connections: Legal and Psychiatric Knowledge Practices in U.S. Adjudication over Organ Donations by Children and Incompetent Adults

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Chapter Summary

This chapter traces a number of U.S. cases involving children and also incompetent adults as organ donors for a family member. Inspired by Mariana Valverde's approach, it focuses on aspects that pertain to the evidence and rhetoric used in legal texts. The chapter outlines the conditions of twentieth century U.S. law that arguably made it porous to social sciences and psychiatric evidence in the first place. It modulates this view with Gunther Teubner's idea of the law as a self-referential system. The chapter then describes and analyses a number of cases. Subsequently, it analyses how psychiatrists came to be recognized as experts in organ donation cases. The chapter ends by asking and attempting to respond to a question that cannot be overstated: did psychiatric expertise really have a genuine impact on the law in cases involving children and incompetent adults as organ donors?.

Keywords: Gunther Teubner; incompetent adults; organ donation; psychiatric expertise; twentieth century U.S. law



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