- Published: November 14, 2012
So far, many of the posts I've created dealt with neuroscience in the courtroom as relevant to criminal trials. I have neglected to consider the other aspect of neuroscience in the courtroom - court cases that deal with legislation. In some cases, neuroscience has been used to promote or tear down legislation attempts based on the evidence it can provide.
For example, in the cited article, the author tells of the attorneys attempting to overturn the Supreme Court's Roe V. Wade decision in respect to abortion rights. The current laws consider fetus viability as a mark of personhood, but these attorneys would use a different indicator to decide whether or not abortion is murder based on development of the fetus. These attorneys would seek to use neuroscience to show that fetuses, after a certain point, can respond to painful stimuli in a way that is "human" and indicative of personhood, and therefore protected under the 14th Amendment.
The article continues into a discussion of what role the natural sciences should play in legislation compared to approaches concerned with just humans and rights. The main point to take away in this relationship to Neurolaw is that not only does neuroscience affect criminals post-crime, it is being used more and more as evidence for legislation beforehand. While the impression might be that hard science is a good basis for legislation, the people involved must also check facts with more humanistic ideas that keep in mind the well-being of a populace. This balance will be in flux especially now as neuroscience continues its push into the legal system.