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Viewing by month: August 2011
August 30, 2011 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

Distributive justice concerns the equitable distribution of scarce resources among all socioeconomic groups and population sectors. The question of distributive justice is a key ethical consideration in all aspects of medical care, including assisted reproductive techniques and reproductive genetics. Access to cancer pharmaceuticals provides a prime example of violations of distributive justice.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

 

August 16, 2011 | Posted By Ricki Lewis, PhD

A new biomedical abbreviation debuted July 22, ACHM (for Animals Containing Human Material) in a report of the same name from the UK Academy of Medical Sciences. ACHM will soon replace, I hope, the phrase “humans and animals,” which implies to the taxonomically inclined that we are instead fungus, plant, or microbe. Even the editorial in Nature on the report notes “the distinction between humans and animals.”

Perhaps because I write college biology textbooks that treat Homo sapiens as any other animal species, I’ve long thought a new term necessary. “Non-human animal” is cumbersome. And so I was thrilled at the UK’s acknowledgement of our Kingdom membership, joining us to the others distinguished by our lack of cell walls. But I fear ACHM isn’t catchy enough, and may head straight into the abbreviation graveyard of RFLPs, SNPs, and iPS cells, none of which really caught on beyond the scientific community. Neither will ACHM work as an acronym; it sounds like a clearing of the throat.

Semantics aside, the report is important. It prepares the biomedical community for future use of animals in research that will increasingly include human material. Said Professor Martin Bobrow, chair of the working group, “Our report recommends … a national expert body, within the existing stringent system of animal research regulations, to provide specific advice on sensitive types of ACHM research.”

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

August 15, 2011 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

Distributive justice does not imply that everyone should have equal access to everything all the time. This would be an extreme position and lead to severe distortions in availability of medical services. Competing needs must be balanced fairly and opportunities to access medical care must be equitable. In the American health care marketplace, however, the bioethical principle of distributive justice receives lip service only. In America, when it comes to health care, minimal attention is paid to matters of fairness.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

August 5, 2011 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.
Dr. Vandana Shiva Navdanya
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Dr. Vandana Shiva, renowned environmentalist, is the author of Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development and Earth Democracy. She is the recipient of the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize and is listed by Forbes magazine as one of the "seven most powerful women in the world".

Dr. Shiva is the founder of Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources. She leads an international movement of women working in food, agriculture, patents, and biotechnology called Diverse Women for Diversity and chairs the Commission on the Future of Food launched in Tuscany, Italy in 2002.

Dr. Shiva has been awarded the 1993 Alternative Nobel Prize and the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace.

“Dr. Vandana Shiva makes a profound difference in diverse communities, societies, and nations on a daily basis,” said David Lemberg, editor of BIOETHICS TODAY. “She is a true environmental hero, championing the rights of each and every one of us. Our conversation with Dr. Shiva focuses on a range of issues and concerns of critical importance to a global audience.”

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

August 5, 2011 | Posted By Sheila Otto, MA, BSN

A student recently shared her concerns about one of her patients, Mrs. R., a 51 yr. old woman who had multiple medical problems which landed her in the hospital but who had no insurance. It seems her husband, who is her primary caretaker at home, is disabled himself and on disability. The two of them have a joint income of $200 per week, which is too much to meet Medicaid eligibility.  With pre-existing illness and no possibility of prospects for health insurance, they are about to lose their home to foreclosure. The hospital will likely not be paid.

With all the talk of budget crisis and concerns about government spending and particularly about an expanded role of government in providing health care insurance, it is easy to lose sight of patients like Mrs. R. Everyone agrees that the US financial crisis is far from over and that health care is very expensive. However, we need to think about the role of government in helping citizens who have health problems which drastically affect their ability to live, day to day, and who currently are out of the loop for insurance. We have laws in place to insure that in an emergent situation, patients must receive life-saving treatment in the ED, regardless of ability to pay. But what good does it do to pull someone back from the brink if you can’t give them the assistance to prevent the same thing from happening repeatedly? If we were to agree to a plan to cover everyone (universal health care) because it is the “right” thing to do there is still the problem of paying for the service. Like the unpopular suggestion to raise taxes, limits to services would be difficult to put in place although essential to make a plan viable. Mrs. R is a classic teaching case for tomorrow’s physicians, who are asked to put a Band-Aid on a large and gaping wound. In a way, she is a paradigm for what ails us a country….we want a fix without paying and make “progress” by pretending that an insufficient remedy is fine for now.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

August 3, 2011 | Posted By Michael Brannigan, PhD

What comes to mind when we think of ethics?

Problem-solving? Decision-making? Pondering, "What is the right thing to do"? "How am I to act"?

Herein lies the persistent hazard for ethics, particularly as an institutionalized field: its near-obsession with "the problem."

To explain, I first offer two senses of ethics. First, it is the formal philosophy and theology discipline that I've been trained in, together with other humanities and science courses. Second, it is an applied field, like my work in health care ethics, and more thoroughly institutionalized.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

 

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BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.
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