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01/12/2015

Why the Bioethics Commission Asks for Public Comment

Public comments play a critical role in the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues’ (Bioethics Commission) deliberations. Public input is essential for processing and analyzing challenging bioethical topics.

The Bioethics Commission is currently seeking public comment on the ethical considerations of U.S. public health emergency response with a focus on the current Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic. At its meeting on November 6, 2014, the Bioethics Commission began its consideration of this topic, and the Commission plans to continue this discussion at its next public meeting February 5-6, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Before making any recommendations, the Commission will consult with a broad range of individuals and groups.

The collection of a wide variety of public comments is one aspect of the Bioethics Commission’s practice of democratic deliberation. The Commission’s call for public comments serves as a way for the public to provide their input on current topics. Public comment comes from a variety of sources, including but not limited to individuals, scientists, organizations representing affected communities, and federal agencies. In addition, Commission meetings are always open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to submit written comments at meetings.

The Bioethics Commission has issued requests for comments for each topic it has examined since its start. For its current request, the Commission is considering three specific areas related to the current EVD epidemic: the ethical foundations of U.S. policies that restrict association or movement; the ethics of placebo-controlled trials in the context of public health emergencies; and the ethical considerations relevant to collecting and storing biospecimens during a public health emergency and sharing them for future research.

For more information, and to view the request for comments as it appears in the Federal Register, visit the Bioethics Commission’s website. Please email comments by February 6, 2015 to info@bioethics.gov.

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