Wednesday, March 15, 2006

This is why Bioethics needs to stick around...

These three headlines were all taken from CNN Internationl on one single day. These are the reasons that bioethics exists and needs to remain.

While some of these stories are obviously far out of the ordinary and what seem to be out of a bad horror film, the ethical issues involved are blatant. Everyday we are confronted with new issues that seem "out of the ordinary" within biomedicine and ethics and it is for these issues that bioethics exists.

Wow, all that in one day. I think it's fascinating that the article on the body parts scandal makes no mention of the ethical dimension. It mentions that the FDA fears the stolen tissue "could be infected with the AIDS virus, syphilis and hepatitis," and that there is confusion as to how many stolen body parts were distributed and implanted. The biggest issue here seems to be one of pedegree - where did these tissues come from. Not, which seems more important - who did these tissues come from? Harvested without the donor's consent they were illegally and unethically taken.
I can't say how disappointed I am that in the year I've been away from Brown, the administration and/or powers that be have still not come to their senses to keep the concentration going. Now in medical school, my classmates and I are constantly bombarded by the sorts of issues I was able to discuss back in the Ladd/Forman/Poland seminars. Not only is biomedical ethics still relevant; it is far more relevant now than it ever was in the past, even more so than when Mr.-Sine-Qua-Non-Brock came to campus. We're currently studying ethics in school, going on ethics rounds, and having small group discussions on everyday scenarios in the hospital; I can't tell y'all how grateful I am to have been able to have covered some of this ground before--to have even heard the terms "maleficence" and "beneficence" unlike some of my classmates. What an enormous oversight Brown is making to send so many eager future policy makers, physicians, professors, and others out in the world to influence, heal, and teach without allowing bioethics to provide a foundation for their work.

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