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December 1, 1956

Epilepsy and the Law: A Proposal for Legal Reform in the Light of Medical Progress

JAMA. 1956;162(14):1348. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970310076024

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This book is described on the title page as being "a proposal for legal reform in the light of medical progress," but Dr. Pearce Bailey, in his foreword, recognizes that, for all its scholarship, this book is part of the literature of indignation. If all who read the book are as aware as was Dr. Bailey of the easily discernible use of half-truths and innuendo in seeking to appeal to the reader's emotions, then more good than harm should come from a widespread reading of it. The authors sincerely contend that medical progress in the control of epileptic seizures has outmoded our epilepsy laws. Four principal areas of complaint are covered: marriage license laws, sterilization laws, driver's license laws, and workmen's compensation laws. The best case is made for the first two. From the material presented, there seems to be little doubt that epilepsy is not the same as idiocy

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