Slate has an insightful article on the possible legal consequences of developments in the neuroscience of consciousness, including implications for issues such abortion and right-to-die cases.
It also discusses some of the history and disparities between how different groups define life and death.
Religious conservatives want the law to define life as the existence of a single living cell containing human DNA. Yet their Schiavo campaign bolstered both the acceptance of consciousness as the boundary between life and death and the authority of neuroscience to measure it.
Link to article ‘The Consciometer’ via Metafilter.