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Author Archive: Blog Editor

by John H. Evans, Ph.D.

In this issue [of The American Journal of Bioethics], McCarthy, Homan and Rozier (henceforth MHR) make the case for re-stablishing the relationship between theological and secular bioethics. I find MHR to be quite informative and find little with which to disagree.

As historians of bioethics note, theology was central to the earlier days of American bioethics but is no longer. Before we assess whether the relationship between theological and secular bioethics can be reestablished, we need to know why it was dis-established. Theologians lost interest in (or were excluded from, depending on your perspective) core parts of bioethics NOT because of their transcendent assumptions or “God talk.”…

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by Lainie Friedman Ross, MD, PhD

On November 9, 2020, the bioethics community lost one of its pioneering and iconic figures, and I lost a mentor and friend.

I first met Bob in person in June 1991 when I participated in the Intensive Bioethics Program at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. Our meeting was not coincidental:  I had called and requested to be in his small group weeks before the course began.  Having no prior coursework in philosophy, I had matriculated into Yale University’s Department of Philosophy in September 1989, inspired by Paul Ramsey’s undergraduate course in Christian Ethics and his book, The Patient as Person (Yale University Press, 1970).

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Dear AJOB & Readers, 

I am writing to highlight a serious situation facing the academic Prof. Vojin Rakić  (personal websiteInstitutional website) who is currently undergoing a terrible time with the Serbian government. Vojin aired political disagreements in the public sphere of the government’s handling of the pandemic and, in return, they have been attacking his career, character and defaming his private life and his family too. We, the undersigned, are organising the below open letter to be signed by academics and scientists from around the world to defend Vojin and call for these personal attacks to stop.

We would very much appreciate it if you would join us in signing this open letter (your agreement, name and affiliation is all we need; please feel free to add your job title – optional).…

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by Joanne Suarez, MBE

With attention to race and ethnocultural perspectives, LatinX Bioethics is concerned with addressing the ethical and moral issues impacting LatinX communities. In this transdisciplinary field, the voices of scholars, artists, and activists are essential for highlighting LatinX perspectives and ethical concerns. Some pressing bioethical issues are immigration reform, health disparities, LatinX research inclusion, representation in the bioethics field, and family dynamics in physician-patient relationships.

We need a LatinX Bioethics because the justice and flourishing of under-represented minorities in bioethics relies on having a protected space for interrogating the issues that impact our communities. As harsh as it may be to admit, the politics of the field are such that not all voices are elevated or honored in discourse.…

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by Nancy S. Jecker, Ph.D.

Dr. Albert Rupert Jonsen passed away October 21, 2020 at his home in San Francisco at the age of 89. He was known as “Al” to his many colleagues and friends, which I am fortunate to be among. A pioneer and founder of the field of bioethics, Al had been an ordained Roman Catholic Priest and completed a doctoral degree in religious studies at Yale University in 1967, yet left the active priesthood in 1976 to marry his wife, Liz Jonsen. Al served as President of the University of San Francisco (1969-1972) and was a faculty member and “roving bioethicst” at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.…

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by Asma Fazal, MD, MRCPI, MHSc

Offering sanctuary to those fleeing conflicts is the most pressing human rights issue in the world today. Conflicts divide communities, deteriorate social relations, and undermine a family’s capacity to care for its most defenseless members, i.e., children. The most recent example is the crisis at the US-Mexico border.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported that under the current US administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, almost 2,654 children were separated from their families at the US-Mexico border as an act to discourage border crossing. This practice continued until a federal judge ordered that the government reunite families who had been separated at the US-Mexico border.…

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by Jonathan H. Chen MD, PhD and Abraham Verghese MD, MACP

The post originally appeared as an editorial in the November 2020 issue of the American Journal of Bioethics.

Clinical medicine is an inexact science. In situations of uncertainty, we often ask an experienced colleague for a second opinion. But what if one could effectively call upon the experience of thousands? This might seem counterintuitive—too many cooks and “consultant creep” can spoil the broth. Yet Condorcet’s jury theorem, a centuries-old mathematical formulation, explains why we entrust juries to decide guilt or innocence rather than judges, and why we prefer voting democracies over dictators.…

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by Carlo Bellieni, MD

During the COVID-19 pandemic, end-of-life decision criteria for dying patients were the focus of much discussion he course of the disease has led to the overload of ICU services in many places around the world, and those presenting to ICU with COVID-19 are the most severe cases and much more likely to die in ICU. Many discussions have been carried on about when withholding intensive care to people with severe COVID19 infections, and in particular which  patients would receive the access to cures in the case of lack of sufficient tools for life-support

Some have proposed to exclude from resuscitation elderly, others, disabled people, using criteria based on the quality of life remained to these patients if they survived.…

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by Berklee Robins, MD, MA & Ashley Sweet, MD, MBE

Vaccines are approved when it is clear that the benefits to the individual and society outweigh the potential risks and side effects of vaccination. Historically this approval has occurred only after years of vaccine development and testing. However, in an effort to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA may consider accelerated approval of a vaccine based on the limited available evidence regarding the product’s safety and effectiveness. Although the FDA has suggested a minimum threshold of efficacy for COVID-19 vaccine candidates, there has been little public discussion surrounding acceptable safety profiles, despite the fact that a phase 3 trial was recently halted over safety concerns.…

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by Nir Eyal, DPhil

When you pick up an article or a book by Dan Brock, you know that you will find rigor, common sense, imagination, and warranted authority. You never encounter preachiness, frills, overstatement, or demagogy. 

Dan was at the forefront of two revolutions in bioethics—one in the 1970s and 1980s, and another in the 1990s and 2000s. The first created the best of Anglo-American clinical bioethics as we now recognize it. Dan, who started his writing career in the 1970s by publishing on normative ethics, started around 1980 to apply the same analytical scrupulousness and lucid writing to medical ethics.…

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