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The Ethics of Rationing COVID-19 Vaccine for the Sickest Among Us

January 13, 2021 • Posted in Blog

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D Distinguished Fellow

We must not allow our combined COVID-19 fatigue to prevent us from asking important questions about public health ethics. At the time I am writing this essay, we are just transitioning into Phase 2 of the vaccination plan. I am sure our public health officials are doing the best they can under unprecedented circumstances, so we should give them the benefit of the doubt. But for the sake of clarity in the future, some retrospective analysis will be crucial.

For instance, in our own state, we have abandoned traditional triage ethics in favor of a purely age-based ...read more

The Prescription for Flourishing Embodiment in Public Bioethics

December 4, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

A Book Review

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Distinguished Fellow

American public bioethics does not have a sterling history because it misunderstands its most important subject, the human subject. This is the claim of a brilliant new book by O. Carter Snead, the Director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture and professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

In What it Means to be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Harvard, 2020), Snead offers a genealogy of American public bioethics. Public bioethics, as contrasted with clinical bioethics, is the realm of human subjects research where, instead ...read more

The Problem of Ill-Gotten Gain in Health Care

October 22, 2020 • Posted in Blog

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Distinguished Fellow

The politicized debate about President Trump’s treatment for Covid-19 may have shrouded an important set of questions about the science of developing treatments, viz., the problem of ill-gotten gain.

Among other treatment protocols, the President received Regeneron’s REGN-COV2, a “cocktail” of two neutralizing antibodies that has shown promise in some animal studies (see here and here). The media jumped on an association between REGN-COV2 antibodies and fetal cells, some even claiming that the antibodies were developed from fetal cells.

 

Screenshot of NYT headline on Oct. 8, 2020

 

 

 

 

The fact of the matter is REGN-COV2 was tested for its virus-neutralizing ...read more

A Project for Our Time

September 30, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been by turns dramatic and disconcerting, and, at times, draconian. I read about Steve Reiter’s deplorable experience and his new project in a BreakPoint commentary in July, and he was kind enough to speak with me by telephone on 24 July.

Steve’s beloved wife, Elizabeth, had diagnoses of lupus and pulmonary hypertension, among other difficulties. She had had a lengthy hospitalization in 2014, but had recovered. Steve attributes her recovery to excellent medical care and the 24/7 presence of her family. She had a Hickman line placed, and Steve ...read more

Life Without Us?

November 2, 2019 • Posted in Blog

By Jane Patton, Guest Columnist

It is not new that some people say that they do not want to bring children into the world. And, as far as the do’s and don’ts of being environmentally responsible, the carbon footprint of a single human being tops the list of avoidable behaviors. One presidential candidate even advocates abortion as a way to combat climate change. So, it may be okay to have one or two children. Any more than that and parents might be called selfish.

But, a growing movement is taking the idea of limiting births to the next level—preventing all births. Who ...read more

Our Summer Non-Vacation

September 23, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

“What I did on my summer vacation” is an assignment many of us have had to complete in the late Augusts or early Septembers of our lives, when we returned to school after the summer break. Given that Summer 2019 has just ended (although the high temperatures have yet to abate), an update on our activities is in order:

21 June 2019 — First Day of Summer

We hosted “Chicago Meets New York: Dinner and a Movie” at the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity’s 26th international bioethics conference on the campus of Trinity International University outside ...read more

When Can Others Help Themselves to Our Organs?

July 25, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

We have an opt-in organ donation system in the United States. That is, you have to say, “Yes,” to organ donation in order to donate. Opting in is very easy, and you can usually do that through your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Even those too young to vote can opt-in for organ donation. Why is this service available through the DMV? A few moments’ thought can yield an answer.

England has recently changed its law governing organ donation. The new “opt-out” law takes effect in 2020:

Everyone in England over the age of 18 will ...read more

A Moratorium on Heritable Human Genome Editing: Illusory or Real?

May 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In March, 2019, Nature published a commentary penned by Eric Lander, Françoise Baylis, Feng Zhang, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and Paul Berg, and signed by 13 other notables. The name of the commentary is “Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing.” This document requires analysis.

First, some definitions are needed. A moratorium is defined as a “suspension of activity,” or “an authorized period of delay or waiting.” Heritable means “capable of being passed from one generation to the next.” Additionally, clinical can refer to a “scientifically detached” attitude or “the observation and treatment of patients directly.” Each of ...read more

Shift and Puzzle: What do an ape and a donkey have to do with bioethics?

January 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

Unmasking the Cultural Lies, One at a Time

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, Shift is a shrewd, crafty ape, and his neighbor, Puzzle, is a meek, somewhat simple donkey. It has been a long time since Aslan, the all-powerful lion, has been seen in Narnia. Therefore, when Shift spies an old lion skin, he decides to have Puzzle dress up in it and pretend to be Aslan. Shift constantly insists that Puzzle do all the heavy-lifting involved in any of their escapades, but in such a way that Puzzle thinks he is getting the ...read more

How Do We Promote Human Dignity?

September 30, 2018 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

A week ago, I was privileged to tour portions of a few of the buildings in a complex that had previously been used as a state “Hospital for the Insane” in Michigan. Although a number of the buildings have been repurposed into condos, restaurants, and shops, the two-hour tour was of several spaces that have yet to be restored. The architect of the original hospital and treatment regimen was a psychiatrist named Thomas Kirkbride. I was impressed by his understanding of human dignity, as represented by his work. The story is fascinating . . .

Thomas ...read more