Posts in January 2016

  1. What are the limits of informed consent?

    [ By on January 03, 2016 ]

    Imagine the anticipation of becoming a new parent.  You are probably 2/3 of the way through a pregnancy (or your partner is).  You've begun to set up the baby's room, washed a few items of clothing so you'll be prepared when the baby is born.  You have thought about names and parental leave from work.  Then, unexpectedly and problematically, your baby is born prematurely.  You trust the doctors who are trying to keep your newborn alive, but certainly have feelings of worry that this little one will not survive being outside the womb so early.  During this time, one of the physicians invites you to participate in a study to determine the optimal oxygen levels to deliver to premature infants. ...

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  2. Should we go further in allowing autonomy for individuals who wish to end their lives?

    [ By on January 03, 2016 ]

    Physician assisted suicide has been legal for over a decade in some US states.  While discussion continues about the morality of "death with dignity," some argue that we should go a step further by helping people die when they have a serious, chronic condition that is not terminal.  The New York Times published a solid Room for Debate piece on this issue, articulating the many facets of this complex issue.  What is the limit to valuing autonomy?

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  3. How should we think about the videos featuring Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue research?

    [ By on January 03, 2016 ]

    I was a young adult working in the field of scientific research, not long out of college, when fetal tissue research became explicitly legal.  Though I recall disagreements about the morality of abortion from that time, I also recall that many of my science colleagues thought this was a very good decision.  They were invested in the advancement of science and articulated the good that could come from studying the multi-potent cells that exist in embryos and fetuses.   Still, I remember thinking graphically about what this legislation made legal - the harvesting of human tissue.  Ouch. That feeling came back when I heard about the videos regarding Planned Parenthood.  Though it seems clear that the videos were heavily edited ...

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