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Author Archive: Mark McQuain

About Mark McQuain

02/21/2017

AI and the Trolley Car Dilemma

I have always hated the Trolley Car dilemma. The god of that dilemma universe has decreed that either one person or five people will die as a result of an energetic trolley car and a track switch position that only you control. Leave the switch in place and five people are run over by the trolley. Pulling the switch veers the trolley onto an alternate... // Read More »

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02/07/2017

Secular Bioethical Mumblings of The Supreme Court

In the blog yesterday, Neil Skjoldal reminded us that bioethics will likely again play a role in the upcoming nomination process of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Why is this the case? To paraphrase Professor H. Tristram Engelhardt, I believe it is due in part to the inability of moral strangers to resolve... // Read More »

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01/17/2017

Ethics of Coordinating Organ Transplantation with Ventilator Cessation in Terminal ALS

The decision not to receive further medical care in the face of a terminal disease is one that is generally honored if made by a fully informed, competent adult in the absence of outside coercion. Decisions to discontinue life-assisting devices already in place with that terminal disease, such as ventilators, feeding tubes and cardiac pacemakers, begin to complicate the decision as the process moves beyond... // Read More »

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01/06/2017

CGI Turing Test

[Star Wars fans spoiler alert: The following contains potential story information from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, the Star Wars Episode IV prequel] I confess that I am a Stars Wars geek in particular and a science fiction movie buff in general. Like many, I am old enough to have seen the first Star Wars movie at its 1977 release, before it was re-indexed... // Read More »

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12/11/2016

The 14-day rule: Time to double down?

The “world’s leading scientists” gathered at University College London on 7 December 2016 to explore extending the 14-day limit on embryo experimentation from 14 days to 28 days. Presently the consensus of that meeting is not known. The Guardian has published a nice summary of the background and future implications of the issue (link HERE). Jon Holmlund offered his comments in this blog back in... // Read More »

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11/19/2016

Pre-Existing Conditions 2.0

Back in 2005, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel co-wrote an article with Dr. Victor Fuchs entitled “Getting Covered”, where the authors described three factors necessary for major healthcare reform: the problem attracts political attention; major players agree upon a refined and feasible solution; and a transforming political event occurs. Their criteria were met with the election of Barack Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress in 2008, resulting in... // Read More »

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10/22/2016

Another Ethical Slippery Slope for A.R.T.?

Medical business opportunities usually seem to make for interesting ethical discussions these days. Forbes recently published an article showcasing Prelude Fertility, an assisted reproduction technology (ART) start-up seeking to combine all the technologies of egg harvesting, cryopreservation and IVF under one umbrella for the purpose of controlling one’s biological clock. Aside from the business issues, the article does a fair job of discussing the medical... // Read More »

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09/29/2016

Does Mitochondrial Transfer Really Save Lives?

This blog has discussed Mitochondrial Transfer, also referred to as Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques (MRTs), several times in the past (HERE and HERE to link a few.). The reason for further comment is that Dr. John Zhang, a New York-based fertility specialist admitted that he assisted in the successful fertilization and healthy delivery of a now 5 month old baby boy using the technique of Mitochondrial... // Read More »

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09/19/2016

Late Term Zika Abortions: Thankfully not Euthanasia

If I were the editor of a recent Newsweek article by Cornell Law Professor Sherry F. Colb, the above title would have been my choice for her article. I must encourage you to read the actual article, lest you believe that the summary that follows is somehow taken grossly out of context. Her concern is that a late term abortion to terminate the life of... // Read More »

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08/29/2016

The $280 Better Mousetrap

The rising cost of the Mylan EpiPen has been in the news. Since 2007, Mylan has raised the cost of their two pack EpiPen from just under $100 to over $600 today. That is a cool $300 per EpiPen, substantially above the ten to twenty dollar retail cost of the raw material epinephrine. Why should I be asked to spend a $280 mark-up? Is this... // Read More »

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