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Author Archive: Blog Editor


By Jennifer L Young, PhD, Julia E H Brown, PhD, Nicole Martinez-Martin, JD, PhD 

In a small but significant change of the tide, Britney Spears has been granted permission to have her own lawyer, to pursue her request to end her 13-year long conservatorship under the hands of her father. This has sparked a reassessment of the ethics of conservatorships, or legal guardianships, and how to distinguish between what Spears described as “conservatorship abuse” and a moral obligation to protect vulnerable people. 

After Britney Spears was hospitalized multiple times in 2008 for an unspecified mental health condition, her father filed for a conservatorship, ostensibly to protect her from causing harm to herself because of her deteriorating mental state.…

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By George J. Annas and Sondra S. Crosby

This editorial can be found in the latest issue of American Journal of Bioethics.

Lowering the standard of care in a pandemic is a recipe for inferior care and discrimination. Wealthy white patients will continue to get “standard of care” medicine, while the poor and racial minorities (especially black and brown people) will get what is openly described as substandard care rationalized by the assertion that substandard care is all that we can deliver to them in a crisis. (IOM 2009) Paul Farmer’s experience in responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a shocking, if extreme, example of how dangerous to patients this practice is.…

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by G.M. Trujillo, Jr., Ph.D.

Critics and academics laud Jonathan Metzl’s Dying of Whiteness. But unlike many academic works, it caught public attention. Metzl toured the country to give talks, and white supremacists even tried to shut down one of his events. The book deserves the praise. It enables readers to grasp that no one is immune from the ills of racism, even white people. The book’s thesis is simple: “a host of complex anxieties prompt increasing numbers of white Americans … to support right-wing politicians and policies, even when these policies actually harm white Americans at growing rates.…

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Original art and artist’s blurbs are presented in collaboration with the students of the University of Illinois Chicago program in Biomedical Visualization. 

by Sydney Agger, BA

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) has shown promise as a diagnostic tool for individuals with depression, I wanted to create an illustration that evoked the feeling behind the ethical challenges described by Laacke et al. in his article about AI, social media, and depression. Throughout the process of creating this illustration my main goal was to maintain a sense of uneasiness between the figure being observed and their shadowy observer. Regardless of the AI figure’s good intentions, its presence feels intrusive as it makes observations without the seated individual’s explicit knowledge or permission.…

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by Nathan Nobis PhD

In a June 14, 2021 opinion essay in the Wall Street Journal, physician-ethicist Aaron Kheriaty and law professor Gerard V. Bradley argue that “University Vaccine Mandates Violate Medical Ethics” (archived version). Their core claim is that requiring college students to be vaccinated for COVID treats these students as “mere means,” using them like “guinea pigs” for the potential benefit of others, and that’s unethical.

As a medical ethicist, I want to explain why college vaccination requirements decidedly do not violate the core principles of medical ethics which include avoiding or lessening harms, promoting benefits, respecting people and their informed and free choices, and promoting justice and fairness.…

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by Sally J. Scholz, PhD

This editorial can be found in the latest issue of American Journal of Bioethics.

In “Artificial Intelligence, Social Media and Depression,” Laacke and colleagues (2021) consider the ethical implications of artificial intelligence depression detector (AIDD) tools to assist practitioners in diagnosing depression or posttraumatic stress. Although the revised account of health-related autonomy (HRDA) offers important correctives in the era of digital data, I argue that additional considerations ought to operate in institutional contexts where autonomy is already compromised, such as in the military. Complementing the health-related account with insights from military ethics and the ethics of war, specifically, jus in bello internal obligations to military personnel, demonstrates the importance of considering alternative ethical frameworks and institutional contexts of compromised autonomy prior to implementing any AIDD.…

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by A. Rahman Ford, JD, PhD

There can be no question that current FDA regulations regarding the use of one’s own stem cells (autologous therapies) to treat or potentially cure disabling conditions are very restrictive. Under most circumstances stem cells extracted from one person, processed, and then administered to the same person are legally considered “drugs” and must be subjected to the rather long and expensive clinical trial process. Nevertheless, and despite the persistent threat of FDA warning letters and lawsuits, an increasing number of clinics offer autologous stem cell therapy (SCT). This proliferation can be seen as a market-driven response to a growing number of people with disabling medical conditions, many of whom have exhausted mainstream medical modalities like pills and surgeries.…

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By Daphne O. Martschenko, PhD and Jennifer L. Young, PhD 

June 12 was Loving Day – a celebration of the 1967 landmark court case that finally allowed interracial couples to marry. As multiracial people of color and as scholars, we reflect on our diversity – not  just in our features – but in our experiences as Americans, particularly in healthcare.

Reassuring Results?: Dr. Martschenko’s Reflection

In 2019, on a cold snowy night in Chicago I got a call from my primary care physician. She shared the results of my blood work from my annual physical: All was normal, except my creatinine, which was slightly elevated.…

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By Clayton Jones, LCDR, CHC, USN, Kevin Mintz, PhD, Andrew Peterson, PhD

America is winning the battle against COVID-19. As of mid-June, over 50% of Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, and pandemic-related deaths are on the decline. But with this breath of optimism comes time to reflect on the Americans we failed, and time to focus on improving our infrastructure to prevent future disasters.   

For Americans with disabilities, President Biden’s infrastructure proposal, with its focus on care services, is a necessary step in this direction. But Republicans and moderate Democrats are resistant, even though the proposal has bipartisan support among the majority of Americans.…

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by Robert Macauley MD

Next to “Clinical Ethicist” in the dictionary, there really ought to be a photo of Bob Orr. Not only was he at the forefront of what was then a nascent field, his writing, teaching, and mentoring influenced and molded the next generation of clinical ethicists.

After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Maclean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago in 1990—back when that was one of the few such training programs in existence—he went on to start the clinical ethics program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, before returning to his adopted home state to start the Department of Clinical Ethics at the University of Vermont, too.…

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