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Viewing by month: February 2012
February 28, 2012 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

In Philosophical Essays: From Ancient Creed to Technological Man [1974], philosopher and ethicist Hans Jonas observed that "Interference with the freedom of research is a grave ethical matter by itself, yet it is like nothing against the gravity of the ethical issues posed by the eventual success of that research."

These timely commentaries should be used as the framework for upcoming decisions regarding whether to proceed with research that has the potential to end human life as we know it, specifically, research which has created an animal-to-animal model of transmission for H5N1, the avian influenza virus.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

February 23, 2012 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

Anyone who's ever seen the terrific documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" knows that our decades-long putative energy crisis is an unnecessary, highly destructive burden on all persons, not only on Americans but on the man- and woman-in-the-street, worldwide.

The General Motors EV1 electric car was a gorgeous machine, developed the EV1 in response to strict California emissions laws established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The board mandated zero emission vehicles (ZEV) in 1990. The EV1 was a sleek, futuristic electric car with an emissions-free range of 100 miles. A 300-mile range could have been implemented. But, EV1 production was nipped in the bud.

Thus in 2012, more than 15 years after the introduction of the EV1, we could all be driving zero-emission vehicles and hugely reducing our use of oil, specifically, foreign oil. But such a scenario is at great odds with certain corporate interests. The prospect of fracking is yet another manifestation of this energy madness.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

February 20, 2012 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

Contraception, women's rights, and religious freedom have dominated the headlines in recent weeks. New guidelines require new health insurance plans to fully cover women's preventive health services, including the provision of birth control pills without co-payments. The administration estimates that by 2013, 34 million American women aged 18 to 64 will receive the benefits specified in the new ruling. Naturally (also, sadly), considering that this is the United States, a firestorm of ill-will began gathering in response. Lately the anti-contraception forces have been in full cry.

The rights of women to a full range of preventive health services are the main concern of the new guidelines. Women's health requirements are not the same as those of men. Also, if we take a breath and step back from this latest manifestation of America's highly destructive "culture war", we might notice that this entire argument could be avoided by instituting a single-payer health care system.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

February 16, 2012 | Posted By Ricki Lewis, PhD

“Are you still collecting stories about DTC testing? I've got one for you!” my grad student L.W. e-mailed a few days ago. Little did I know her family's experience would change my mind about direct-to-consumer genetic testing.

L.W. had taken my online course “Genethics” in 2008 for the master’s program at the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College. For one assignment, students choose a DTC testing company, peruse the website, and indicate 3 tests that they would take and 3 that they wouldn't – and why. 

As a class activity, L.W. didn’t really approach the testing seriously. “It's fun cocktail party info. ‘Why, yes, I'd love another mocha cappuccino at 9 pm. No problem... I'm a fast caffeine metabolizer!’” 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

 

February 10, 2012 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

What does it mean to live in a democracy? In the United States, various freedoms are enumerated in the Bill of Rights. These precious freedoms include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. The Fourth Amendment provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The Ninth Amendment states "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

A critical question is whether the "liberty" protected by the Due Process Clause includes the right to health care.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

February 6, 2012 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

Women's reproductive rights are not an issue that concerns only women. A well-documented causal chain connects a woman's access to contraception and abortion services, the fertility rate, women's educational levels in a developing nation, and that nation's gross domestic product.

What do these matters have to do with women's reproductive rights? The key point is choice. No availability of reliable birth control methods directly equates to no choice. And as has been forcefully demonstrated recently, the availability of choice is deemed critical to the health and well-being of men and women in all socioeconomic groups. Witness the Susan G. Komen Foundation debacle.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

February 2, 2012 | Posted By Ricki Lewis, PhD

"Research shows genes influence criminal behavior," proclaims a January 25 news release, setting my genetic determinism detector on high alert. 

I flashed back to the cover of the May 18, 1970 Newsweek, “Congenital Criminals?” which probed the work of Patricia Jacobs. Here’s what my human genetics textbook says on the study provoking the 1970 headline: 

“In 1965, researcher Patricia Jacobs published results of a survey among 197 inmates at Carstairs, a high-security prison in Scotland. Of twelve men with unusual chromosomes, seven had an extra Y.” 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

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BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.
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