Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director
The semester is rapidly drawing to a close, but we still have a number of excellent bioethics events planned.
Save the date: On Wednesday, April 20, our Technology and Ethics group will hear from John Horgan (Science Journalism, Stevens Institute of Technology) on “The Mind-Body Problem: A Lack-of-Progress Report.” The talk will be at 4:30 in Rosenkranz 005. More details here.
Also on Wednesday the 20th, the Yale Pediatric Ethics Program will hear Douglas Opel (Bioethics/Pediatrics, Univ. of Washington Medical) speak on "Shared Decision-Making in Medicine: A Decrepit Concept, " from 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM at the Child Study Center’s Cohen Auditorium. One week later, on Wednesday April 27, the Community Bioethics Forum will host John Hughes (Bioethics/Medicine, Yale) speaking on “Ethical Considerations in US Healthcare Policy,” from 6-8pm at the Yale Medical Library, 333 Cedar Street.
Nancy writes: “Gradient is at it again. Gradient belongs to a breed of scientific consulting firms that defends the products of its corporate clients beyond credulity, even exhaustively studied substances whose dangers are not in doubt, such as asbestos, lead and arsenic.Gradient's scientists rarely acknowledge that a chemical poses a serious public health risk.The Center for Public Integrity analyzed 149 scientific articles and letters published by the firm's most prolific principal scientists. Ninety-eight percent of the time, they found that the substance in question was harmless at levels to which people are typically exposed.” "They truly are the epitome of rented white coats," said Bruce Lanphear, a Simon Fraser University professor whose own research showing that even tiny amounts of lead could harm children has been called into question by Gradient scientists. “Here they go on synthetic turf --- from April 6, 2016”
Child Trends (email@example.com) is considered 39th in the 100 Best Workplaces for Women. “If you or a smart, industrious friend might be interested in joining our team as a senior research scientist, a research scientist, or a research analyst or assistant, look us up and apply now!”
Yale University’s MacMillan Center’s Report, an online interview show featuring the research of faculty in International and Area Studies, focuses this week on Marcia Inhorn, one of our Morning Lecturers. Marcia is a specialist on Middle Eastern gender, religion, and health. She has conducted research on the social impact of infertility and assisted reproductive technologies in Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and Arab America over the past 30 years. She has authored five books on the subject, as well as nine edited volumes. (Congratulations Marcia!)
Congratulations to one of our past Morning Lecturers Wayne Pacelle, President/CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, on the publication of his latest book “The Human Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals.”
Martyna Sniegocka writes: “Poland has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, allowing for the procedure only in extreme cases such as rape or when the fetus is terminally ill.A new proposed legislation wants to make the law even harsher, banning abortion completely. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest. It’s a huge bioethical issue, but in my opinion, forcing women to give birth to a child conceived by a rape or to a terminally ill child brings us back to the Middle Ages.” (Thank you for the update Martyna!)
Allison Grady writes: “I have been doing well out in Wisconsin. Professionally, I am currently the primary provider in the Northwestern Mutual Day Hospital that is part of our MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin (CHW). I am the nurse practitioner who oversees all of the sick patients (95% oncology, some hematology), infusional chemotherapy, and transfusions. It's been a transition from the inpatient side, but i am enjoying it. One month ago, I presented at the Medicine and Religion Conference in Houston, Texas. I lectured on Pediatric End-of-Life Decision-Making and Religion. Last week, I presented about 'Moral Distress" at a noon conference (resident focused) during our "Ethics Week" at CHW. Christian (Krautkramer) continues to work at GE in Compliance, specifically working on the Sunshine Act (and regulation). He has been lecturing on the topic recently and will again in two weeks. Personally, we have been having a blast with Jack, who is now 2! He has a fabulous little personality, and he is growing and impressing us everyday. We will be making a trip back east next week, so we will try to visit, but I make no guarantees.” (Hope we do get to see you soon! Congratulations to you and Christian on both the professional and personal fronts!)
Eleonora Ferri writes: “GOOD NEWS: I was asked to join an interdisciplinary research group: Ethics and Emerging Technologies (a population-based health monitoring project.) I am going to workwith some European experts and professors on the draft of ethical guidelines for the employment of converging technologies in hospital settings. It is run by a private foundation, Fondazione Lanza, that deals with applied ethics issues. Not bad as my first employment in research!” (Congratulations and Good Luck Eleonora!We are glad to have you back on campus with us this summer!)
Tara Tran is now an Intern at Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP.(Congratulations Tara!)
Bryanna Moore writes: “The Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law is holding its 2016 Conference November 24 - 26, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I think you all should come and visit me in November – also bioethics will be happening! J” (Thanks for the heads-up! I sure wish I could be so lucky!) The Conference title is “Bioethics and Health Law at the Intersections.” The Conference themes are: Relationships between Ethics and Law: The Role of Advocacy in Bioethics and Health Law; Emerging Technologies; Professionalism and/or Ethics. Abstracts on all of the AAHBL streams are invited: Clinical Ethics; Health Law; Research Ethics; Public Health Ethics; and Teaching Ethics. Key Dates: Call for abstracts opens: March 11, 2016; Deadline for submission of abstracts: June 6, 2016; Notification of acceptance of abstracts: July 29, 2016. Pre- and Post-Conference Workshops: Clinical Ethics: Wed 23 November (in conjunction with Australasian Clinical Ethics network); Postgraduate Students Group: Thursday 24 November; Teaching Health Ethics: Sunday 27 November.
For the latest Hastings Center Report (March-April, 2016) please see here. Included are articles on “Why bioethics has a race problem,” and “Conscientious Care and Abortion,” among others.
Medical Aid in Dying Clinical Criteria Q&A Breakfast, Thursday April 14 from 8am to 10am, at the Yale Club of New York, 50 Vanderbilt Ave., NYC.Hosted By Samuel C. Klagbrun, MD. Featuring Dr. David Grube, Compassion & Choices' Medical Director and former Oregon Medical Board Director. Dr. Grube will discuss medical aid in dying and Oregon’s experience with Death with Dignity, as well as "Clinical Criteria for Physician Aid in Dying" published last year in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. RSVP on evite or by calling Janet Diminich at 718.644.6859
The Brocher Foundation offers to researchers the opportunity to organize a one and a half day multidisciplinary symposium or a two or three day multidisciplinary workshop on the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of new medical developments. These symposia and workshops are the perfect occasion to take advantage of a uniquely located Conference room on the shores of Lake Geneva and to invite experts from the numerous international organizations and non-governmental organizations based in the area (WHO, UNAIDS, WIPO, WTO, ILO, WMA, ICRC, MSF, etc.)Calls will close on the 13 May 2016
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In the News
Sarah Knapton. “Living cells ‘hacked’ and hijacked by MIT.” The Telegraph. March 31, 2016.
Scientists at MIT have discovered a way “program” living cells using a “programming language for bacteria”, based a language used to program computer chips, to write DNA “code”, which they are able to insert into bacteria to alter how they function. Continue reading…
Rachel Feltman. “Genetically engineered pig hearts survive a record-breaking two years inside baboons.” The Washington Post. April 5, 2016.
You might not think that you should be excited about pig hearts being stitched into baboon circulatory systems, but boy are you wrong. Scientists have announced a new record for the survival of these Frankenhearts, and their work could have major implications for human health. Continue reading…
Jon Kamp. “Opponents of North Carolina’s Transgender Law Pressure Governor to Repeal It.” The Wall Street Journal. March 31, 2016.
Opponents of a new North Carolina law that eliminates antidiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people met with Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday to demand he repeal it. Continue reading…
Abi Rimmer. “Doctors slam junior contract for discrimination against women.” The BMJ. April 4, 2016.
Doctors have expressed outrage after the government’s own analysis of the new junior doctor contract found that it discriminated against women. After a breakdown of negotiations with the BMA the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced in February that the government would impose a new contract on junior doctors in England from August this year. The equality analysis said that, “while there are features of the new contract that impact disproportionately on women, of which some we expect to be advantageous and others disadvantageous, we do not consider that this would amount to indirect discrimination as the impacts can be comfortably justified.” Continue reading (behind paywall)…
Olga Khazan. “A Drone to Save the World.” The Atlantic. April 4, 2016.
A San Francisco-based company says it will soon begin using drones to deliver blood and medicine in Rwanda. Continue reading…
Leah Samuel. “This fridge-sized machine can pop out meds for allergies, depression, and anxiety.” STAT. March 31, 2016.
Engineers at MIT have developed a fridge-sized machine, called Pharmacy on Demand, that can make hundreds to thousands of doses of a medicine a day and can be reconfigured within a couple hours to change the output, thanks to various modules of ingredients, pumps, reactors, and heating elements. Continue reading…
Ken Thomas. “Clinton, Sanders had opposing views on biomedical research.” Associated Press. April 2, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were on opposing sides of certain types of biomedical research while they served in Congress, differences that have gained notice by scientists and advocates on the forefront of stem cell research. Continue reading…
Alexandra Sifferlin. “First Transplant from HIV-Positive Donor Performed in U.S.” Time. March 20, 2016.
The first U.S. liver and kidney transplants from a donor with HIV were completed at Johns Hopkins Medicine. This marks the first ever HIV-to-HIV liver transplant, and the first kidney transplant in the United States. Continue reading…
Julie Bindel. “Outsourcing pregnancy: a visit to India's surrogacy clinics.” The Guardian. April 1, 2016.
Julie Bindel reports from India on the country’s commercial surrogacy industry. Continue reading…
Julia Carrie Wong. “'Uber for birth control' service to deliver HIV prevention drug Truvada.” The Guardian. March 29, 2016.
A San Francisco startup described as an “Uber for birth control” is expanding its services to offer Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill that has been shown to be more than 90% effective in reducing HIV infection from sex. The service will allow patients in California to obtain a prescription for PrEP through a mobile app without having to see a doctor. Continue reading…
Laura June. “Couples Are Traveling to Europe to Get Pregnant in a Wave of IVF Tourism.” New York Magazine. April 4, 2016.
About one in ten couples have trouble conceiving, according to most estimates, and now, thousands of them are leaving the United States to get pregnant on trips known as "IVF holidays." Continue reading…
Amy Ellis Nutt. “This scientist nearly went to jail for making up data.” The Washington Post. April 1, 2016.
An Australian researcher received a two-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to 17 fraud-related charges. The main counts against neuroscientist Bruce Murdoch were for an article heralding a breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The judge declared that there was no evidence that Murdoch had even conducted the clinical trial on which his supposed findings were based. Continue reading…
In the Journals
Tina Rulli and Joseph Millum. “Rescuing the duty to rescue.” Journal of Medical Ethics Vol. 42, Issue 4 (2016), 207-208.
The authors examine the theoretical basis of rescue duties as they are used in bioethics. Bioethicists frequently treat the duty to rescue as though the criteria for its application are settled. However, there are large gaps in our understanding of the force, scope and justification of the two most cited conceptions of a duty to rescue in bioethics—the individual duty of easy rescue and the institutional rule of rescue. Continue reading…
Mirko D. Garasic and Andrea Lavazza. “Moral and social reasons to acknowledge the use of cognitive enhancers in competitive-selective contexts.” BMC Medical Ethics Vol. 17, Issue 1 (2016), 1-12.
The authors discuss the moral and social reasons to publicly acknowledge the use of cognitive enhancers in competitive-selective contexts and argue that there is a tension between one of the main argument used by bio-liberals (the use of cognitive enhancers is an eligible procedure that society does not impose on anyone) and the actual implementation of the drugs in competitive, or semi-competitive contexts. Continue reading…
Jukka Varelius. “On the Moral Acceptability of Physician-Assisted Dying for Non-Autonomous Psychiatric Patients.” Bioethics Vol. 30, Issue 4 (2016), 227-233.
Several authors have recently suggested that the suffering caused by mental illness could provide moral grounds for physician-assisted dying. Yet they typically require that psychiatric-assisted dying could come to question in the cases of autonomous, or rational, psychiatric patients only. Given that also non-autonomous psychiatric patients can sometimes suffer unbearably, this limitation appears questionable. In this article, the author maintains that restricting psychiatric-assisted dying to autonomous, or rational, psychiatric patients would not be compatible with endorsing certain end-of-life practices commonly accepted in current medical ethics and law, practices often referred to as ‘passive euthanasia’. Continue reading (behind paywall)…
Hugh LaFollette. “My Conscience May Be My Guide, but You May Not Need to Honor It.” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, doi: 10.1017/S0963180116000256. April 5, 2016.
A number of healthcare professionals assert a right to be exempt from performing some actions currently designated as part of their standard professional responsibilities on the grounds that they are conscientiously opposed to performing them. The author argues, however, that professionals should refuse far less often than most do and that they should be even less frequently exempt. Continue reading (behind paywall)…
Elizabeth Dietz. “Bathroom Bills, Bigotry, and Bioethics.” March 31, 2016.
The author discusses North Carolina’s new law requiring that a person’s biological sex corresponds with the gendered public restroom they are permitted to use and forcefully emphasizes some of its more troubling consequences. Continue reading…
Shobita Parthasarathy. “CRISPR dispute raises bigger patent issues that we’re not talking about.” April 4, 2016.
The worlds of science, technology and patent law eagerly await the U.S. government’s decision on who deserves patents on what many have referred to as the biotechnology invention of the century: the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique. But amid all the breathless anticipation, we’ve been ignoring two important lessons from the CRISPR/Cas9 patent dispute: patent systems no longer fit the realities of how science works, and patents give their owners significant control over the fate and shape of technologies. Continue reading…
Henry Greenly. “Who needs sex to make babies? Pretty soon, humans won’t.” April 1, 2016.
The author argues that, within the next 50 years, biomedical advances such as whole genome sequencing and stem cell technology will change how humans reproduce. Continue reading…
The New York Times
Margot Sanger-Katz. “New Health Insurance Customers Are Sicker. Should We Be Surprised?” March 31, 2016.
A new report from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association shows that new health insurance customers under the Affordable Care Act are on average sicker and costlier than people in the old individual insurance market. The problem with the report, however, is that it treats the longtime, healthier customers and the newer, sicker ones as if they were completely separate groups. The real question for the health of the new Obamacare markets is the costs of caring for the two groups added together. Continue reading…
Richard Conniff. “Our Natural History, Endangered.” April 1, 2016.
The author chronicles the decline of natural history museums and makes a case for their ongoing value. Continue reading…
Nina Martin. “Why North Carolina’s New Anti-LGBT Law is a Trojan Horse.” April 5, 2016.
The North Carolina legislature rushed last month to pass a law requring transgender people (and everyone else) to use public restrooms according to the biological sex on their birth certificate. The legislation doesn’t stop there, however. Tucked inside is language that strips North Carolina workers of the ability to sue under a state anti-discrimination law. Continue reading...
Mark Joseph Stern. “The ACLU Sues to Stop North Carolina’s Anti-LGBTQ Law.” March 28, 2016.
Five days after North Carolina passed the most anti-LGBTQ law in the country, a coalition of groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to block the measure as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The suit is a bold attempt to assert new constitutional protections for gay and trans individuals in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges. Continue reading…