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Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director

The last classes are over, and reading period is upon us. That means we'll have only one more Bioethics Newsletter before taking a break for the summer. And by "taking a break" I mean hosting 70 students from all over the world in our two-month-long Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics.

With the term winding down, there are very few events on this side of campus. But over at the Medical School, term never stops! Here are three dates to save for upcoming bioethics events at the Medical School. All three will occur at 5pm in the Cohen Auditorium of the Child Study Center, 230 S. Frontage Road. All are open to the public, but will involve refreshments, so please RSVP in advance to Karen.Kolb@Yale.edu.  On Wednesday, May 11, the Program for Biomedical Ethics will host Drs. Sanjay Kulkarni and Carrie Thiesssen of Yale Medical School speaking on “A Donor-Centered Approach to Risk Assessment: Normative, Empirical, and Policy Perspectives on Rebalancing Non-maleficence and Autonomy for Living Kidney Donors.”  On Wednesday, May 25, the Pediatric Ethics Program will host Jay Sicklick, JD (Deputry Director, Center for Children’s Advocacy) speaking on “Cassandra C. Revisited: The Ethical Implications of Minor Decision Making in the Healthcare Context.” And on Wednesday, June 1, The Program for Biomedical Ethics will host our own divinity/Summer Institute/bioethics graduate Maj. Jeff Matsler (Chaplain, US Army) speaking on “Why We Need a Military Medical Ethic." Check links for more details!

Former Yale/Hastings Scholar Mirko Garasic (Safra Center for Ethics, Tel Aviv) has published a book entitled “Guantanamo and Other Cases of Enforced Medical Treatment: A Biopolitical Analysis,” based in part on work that he did here at the Yale Bioethics Center while on a Fulbright. The book is the subject of an author-meets-critics feature on the Journal of Medical Ethics’ website. Mirko also just gave a presentation at a conference at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Science, Technology and Society. Congratulations, Mirko!
  Updates from the Summer Institute

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs



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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Summer Institute Director Carol Pollard

Click here for a missive on biotechnology from Greg Becker, written to a mutual acquaintance of ours.  Those interested in biotech and its place in our future, it will be an interesting read!

Mayelin De La Cruz writes: “I want to let you guys know that the Bioethics Club of William Paterson University is seeking speakers for the Fall Semester of 2016! The meetings are typically held on Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., and you will be given 30-45 minutes to present your work. The remaining time will be for Q&A. Please let me know before the end of August if you guys would like to come. P.S. The University is 40 minutes away from NYC and travel fees will be reimbursed (i.e. airfare, hotel & etc)!!” (Thank you Mayelin! I hope you get some “takers”!) Also, Mayelin’s abstract has been accepted to present the full article at the Health Humanities Conference 2016. (WOW! You are on a roll! Congratulations!)

Candace Andalia is now Judicial Law Clerk at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. (Congratulations Candice!  Click here for a photo!)

Yuliya Chykunova is a student in Biotechnology at Janiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. (Congratulations! Click here for a photo!)

Robert Nowell is a Professional Research Assistant at the University of Colorado/Anschutz Medical Campus, Denver, Colorado. (Congratulations! Click here for a photo!)

Jenny Guyton is now Project Manager, Corporate Strategy and New Product Development at The Advisory Board Company, Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Washington, DC. (Congratulations! Click here for a photo!)

Sahdeea Sultana writes: “Hey! Came across this article and naturally thought it may be of interest to the bioethics squad!” (Thank you Sahdeea!)

The Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies in Washington, DC, is looking for Interns to work on their events, website, and other projects. Because much of their work is web-based, Interns do not need to be in residence in DC—some have even been outside the US. Although these positions are unremunerated, they want serious commitment. Commitment may or may not be components in an academic program (graduate or undergraduate). Applications should include a CV and writing sample.

Wise Words from Ron Banner: “With regard to your IDEAS AND OPINIONS article in the April 19, 2016, Annals of Internal Medicine titled “Two Ways of Knowing: Big Data and Evidence-Based Medicine,” may I suggest a different way of knowing with regard to the care of the individual patient: EXPERENTIAL KNOWING. By LISTENING to the individual patient and their experiences, we (as physicians) can better understand their symptoms and illnesses and what type of treatments work best for them.  This makes us better physicians. This produces better outcomes.” (Thank you Ron!)

And Yet More Wise Words – this time from Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.

Interesting book just on the market: “Big Data and Ethics.”  For more information, contact Any Cole at amy.cole@researchandmarkets.org  

Overview: Faced with the exponential development of Big Data and both its legal and economic repercussions, we are still slightly in the dark concerning the use of digital information.  In the perpetual balance between confidentiality and transparency, this data will lead us to call into question how we understand certain paradigms, such as the Hippocratic Oath in medicine.  As a consequence, a reflection on the study of the risks associated with the ethical issues surrounding the design and manipulation of this “massive data” seems to be essential.

Please see the Articles Section I’ve prepared for you.

And click here for some beauty to enter your life!


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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

The Center for Ethics at Emory University seeks a scholar in ethics and a clinical field, public health, or the life sciences to direct their Master of Arts in Bioethics (MAB) program. Rank and area of specialty are open. There is a rolling deadline, and they are looking to fill the position as quickly as possible. Details here.

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Articles of Interest

To read the full text of an article, click on its link and it will open in a new window.  

Some sites may require free registration; others may require that you or your organization have a paid subscription.

In the News

Climate Change

Coral Davenport. “Carbon Pricing Becomes a Cause for the World Bank and I.M.F.” The New York Times. April 23, 2016.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are pressing governments to impose a price tag on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, using economic leverage and technical assistance that institutions like the United Nations cannot muster. Continue reading…


Sheryl Ubelacker. “Canada's medical students await clear direction on doctor-assisted death.” CBC News. April 24, 2016.

With physician-assisted death soon to alter the face of Canadian medicine, Canada's medical schools are under pressure to decide at what point in the curriculum future doctors should be introduced to this paradigm shift — and what that teaching needs to entail. Continue reading…


Charles Ornstein. “New York Hospital to Pay $2.2 Million Fine for Allowing Filming of Patients Without Consent.” ProPublica. April 21, 2016.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has agreed to pay a $2.2 million penalty to federal regulators for allowing television crews to film two patients without their consent – one who was dying, the other in significant distress. Continue reading…

Public Health

Dan Levin. “Vancouver Prescriptions for Addicts Gain Attention as Heroin and Opioid Use Rises.” The New York Times. April 21, 2016.

The Crosstown clinic in Vancouver, Canada is the only medical facility in North America permitted to prescribe diacetylmorphine hydrochloride, the active ingredient in heroin. At Crosstown, 110 chronic addicts with prescriptions inject themselves three times a day as part of a treatment known as heroin maintenance. The program has been so successful at keeping addicts out of jail and away from emergency rooms that its supporters are seeking to expand it across Canada. Continue reading...

Reproductive Rights

Louise Radnofsky. “Supreme Court Contraception Case Shows No Signs of Compromise.” The Wall Street Journal. April 20, 2016.

The Obama administration and religiously affiliated employers in a final round of legal briefs Wednesday moved no closer to a compromise for covering contraception in workers’ insurance plans, likely leaving it to the eight-member Supreme Court to settle the dispute. Continue reading…

Judith Graham. “‘Abortion reversal’ laws gain steam, despite scant scientific evidence.” STAT. April 21, 2016.

South Dakota will soon require doctors to tell women that they can change their minds after taking the abortion pill and potentially halt an abortion in progress. Arizona and Arkansas passed similar laws last year. Yet that claim has no solid science behind it. Continue reading...

“Supreme Court Blocks Abortion Law.” CBS Miami. April 22, 2016.

A divided Florida Supreme Court temporarily blocked a state requirement that women wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion, cheering abortion rights supporters and drawing new complaints of judicial activism from the law’s backers. Continue reading…

Amy Sawitta Lefevre. “Gay Western couple win Thai surrogacy battle for baby Carmen.” Reuters. April 26, 2016.

A gay couple from the United States won an appeal on Tuesday for parental rights over a baby born through a Thai surrogate mother in a high-profile case that came to light before Thailand banned commercial surrogacy last year. Continue reading…

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In the Journals

Uri Maoz and Gideon Yaffe. “What does recent neuroscience tell us about criminal responsibility?” Journal of Law and the Biosciences, Vol. 3, Issue 1 (2016), 120-139.

The authors discuss the extent to which recent work in neuroscience may illuminate the nature and underlying mechanisms of those features of the mind that contribute to and constitute criminal responsibility. They argue that, to date, very little is known about the brain that is of significance for understanding criminal responsibility. But there is no reason to think that neuroscience cannot provide evidence that will challenge our understanding of criminal responsibility. Continue reading…

Daniel Halliday. “The ethics of a smoking licence.” Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (2016), 278-284.

The author explores some of the moral considerations relating to smoking licenses, which would require smokers to pay a relatively large amount of tax before being allowed to make any tobacco purchases, and offers a limited defense of licenses as a replacement for sales tax on tobacco products. Continue reading…

Kalle Grill & Kristin Voigt. “The case for banning cigarettes.” Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (2016), 293-301.

The authors discuss the idea of completely banning the sale of cigarettes and find that such a ban, if effective, would be justified. They argue that the weightiest factor supporting such a ban is the often substantial well-being losses many individuals suffer because of smoking, which moreover disproportionally affect the disadvantaged. Continue reading…

Stephanie R. Morain, Jonathan P. Winickoff, and Michelle M. Mello. “Have Tobacco 21 Laws Come of Age?” The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 374, Issue 17 (2016), 1601-1604.

As of March 2016, at least 125 localities and the state of Hawaii have introduced legislation raising the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21. In this article, the authors support these new laws by reviewing recent research, which shows that these laws are effective, enjoy very high levels of public support, and have minimal economic impact in the short term. Continue reading…

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The Baltimore Sun

Anne Drapkin Lyerly, Carleigh Krubiner, and Ruth Faden. “Zika highlights need for research on pregnant women.” April 21, 2016.

The rapid spread of the Zika virus has put extraordinary pressure on the research community. While it will not be easy, the knee-jerk response that research with pregnant women is too complex to contemplate is not acceptable. We need reliable information so that women can feel confident and know, not just hope, that they have chosen a safe and effective way to protect themselves and their future children. Continue reading...

Bioethics Forum

Bonnie Steinbeck. “Questions About Using “Mosaic” Embryos in IVF.” April 22, 2016.

Couples undergoing IVF routinely undergo preimplantation genetic screening, or PGS, to make sure that their embryos are viable and free of genetic disease. However, some embryos have both normal and abnormal cells, and at least some of these “mosaic” embryos are capable of developing into healthy children. This raises a troubling question: should mosaic embryos be used to create a pregnancy? Continue reading…

Timothy F. Murphy. “What’s Behind Gender Panic in the Restroom?” April 25, 2016.

The author discusses recent legislative efforts in North Carolina and elsewhere aimed at restriction transgender men and women’s access to public restrooms, arguing that these efforts seem to be an indulgence in “gender nostalgia”, an expression of longing for an imagined past in which men and women lived without any traits that threw expected gender roles into question. Continue reading…

The Conversation

Kenneth Chambaere. “Separating fact from fiction about euthanasia in Belgium.” April 22, 2016.

The author discusses Belgium’s controversial laws regarding euthanasia and attempts to dispel certain persistent misconceptions. Continue reading…

The New York Times

Editorial. “Oklahoma’s Unabashed Attack on Abortion.” April 25, 2016.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to bar doctors from performing abortions in all cases except to save the woman’s life. According to the editorial board of The New York Times, in so doing, Oklahoma has effectively voted to ban abortion — without offering any pretense of trying to protect women’s health, as supporters of other virulent anti-choice laws in states like Texas have done. Continue reading…

Nicholas Kristof. “Candidates, Let’s Talk About Women’s Health.” April 28, 2016.

In nine Democratic debates, not a single question was asked about women’s health, and when the issue came up elsewhere it was often in the narrowest form, about abortion. In this piece, the author argues that we need to broaden the conversation about women’s health in this political campaign. Continue reading…

Practical Ethics

Rajiv Shah. “Abortion, punishment and moral consistency.” April 25, 2016.

Donald Trump suggested that women who have abortions should face punishment. For that he was criticised by both the pro-choice side and the pro-life side. The latter claimed that their view is that women should not face punishment for having abortions but that only providers should. This raises the interesting question of whether the pro-life position is coherent. It would seem that it is not. If the foetus has the right to life then having an abortion is like murder and so those who abort should be treated as such. This post argues that the pro-lifer can coherently reject this implication whilst still holding that the foetus has the right to life. Continue reading…

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