The case for an Indigenous Bioethics

Global Bioethics Blog, 25 June 2017
Author: Stuart Rennie
“Indigenous communities in the Americas experience a disproportionate incidence of illness and disease compared to the general population. They also possess sophisticated ethical traditions which diverge and not infrequently conflict with Western-oriented bioethics. This culture gap between patient, provider and ethicist is no small public health concern—it can foster feelings of alienation and distrust which compromise the relationship between those in need of care and those able to offer it. Research ethicists have already made considerable efforts to bring sensitivity for aboriginal cultural mores into their discipline, but bioethicists have been slower out of the gate.”
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Medical ethics in Israel—bridging religious and secular values

The Lancet, May 2017, 2584-2586
Authors: Alan B Jotkowitz, Riad Agbaria, Shimon M Glick
“Peter Berger, a sociologist of religion, once stated that “the theme of individual autonomy is perhaps the most important theme in the worldview of modernity”. Although modern bioethics was relatively late in accepting the value of personal autonomy in medical decision making, this autonomy is now universally recognised as the core value of western medical ethics. Principilism, as proposed by Beauchamp and Childress, lists autonomy along with beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice as the four cardinal principles of bioethics.”
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Development of a consensus operational definition of child assent for research

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:41
Authors: Alan R Tait, Michael E Geisser
“While research participation for most children requires the permission of parent(s)/guardian(s), the bioethical principle of “respect for persons” requires that children also provide their assent to participate to the degree that they are deemed “capable of providing it,” taking into account the child’s “age, maturity, and psychological state”. While this regulatory framework is designed to allow children to express their burgeoning autonomy, foster moral growth, and develop decision-making skills, it provides absolutely no practical guidance with respect to what actually constitutes assent and which children are capable of providing it.”
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On classifying the field of medical ethics

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:30
Authors: Kristine Bærøe, Jonathan Ives, Martine de Vries, Jan Schildmann
“In 2014, the editorial board of BMC Medical Ethics came together to devise sections for the journal that would (a) give structure to the journal (b) help ensure that authors’ research is matched to the most appropriate editors and (c) help readers to find the research most relevant to them. The editorial board decided to take a practical approach to devising sections that dealt with the challenges of content management. After that, we started thinking more theoretically about how one could go about classifying the field of medical ethics. This editorial elaborates and reflects on the practical approach that we took at the journal, then considers an alternative theoretically derived approach, and reflects on the possibilities, challenges and value of classifying the field more broadly.”
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The Deadly Business of an Unregulated Global Stem Cell Market

BMJ Blog, 30 March 2017
Authors: Tereza Hendl, Tamra Lysaght
“In our paper, we report on the case of a 75-year old Australian woman who died in December 2013 from complications of an autologous stem cell procedure. This case was tragic and worth reporting to the medical ethics community because her death was entirely avoidable and the result of a pernicious global problem – doctors exploiting regulatory systems in order to sell unproven and unjustified stem cell interventions.”
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Aid-in-Dying Laws and the Physician’s Duty to Inform

JME Blog, 22 March 2017
Author: Mara Buchbinder
“Why do so many people assume that any clinical communication about aid-in-dying (AID, also known as assisted suicide), where it is legal, ought to be patient-initiated? Physician participants in my ongoing study tend to assume that physicians should wait for patients to initiate discussions of AID. The clinical ethics literature on communication about AID has reinforced this expectation by focusing on how to respond to patient requests. Consequently, bioethics has largely remained silent on whether there is a professional duty to inform terminally ill patients about AID laws and their clinical and legal requirements.”
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Beyond cultural stereotyping: views on end-of-life decision making among religious and secular persons in the USA, Germany, and Israel

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:13
Authors: Mark Schweda, Silke Schicktanz, Aviad Raz, Anita Silvers
“End-of-life decision making constitutes a major challenge for bioethical deliberation and political governance in modern democracies: On the one hand, it touches upon fundamental convictions about life, death, and the human condition. On the other, it is deeply rooted in religious traditions and historical experiences and thus shows great socio-cultural diversity. The bioethical discussion of such cultural issues oscillates between liberal individualism and cultural stereotyping. Our paper confronts the bioethical expert discourse with public moral attitudes.”
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Human genome editing report strikes the right balance between risks and benefits

The Conversation, 16 February 2017
Author: Merlin Crossley
“If you recognise the words “CRISPR-mediated gene editing”, then you’ll know that our ability to alter DNA has recently become much more efficient, faster and cheaper. This has inevitably led to serious discussions about gene therapy, which is the direct modification of someone’s DNA to rectify a genetic disorder, such as sickle cell anaemia or haemophilia. And you may also have heard of deliberate genetic enhancement, to realise a healthy person’s dreams of improving their genome.”
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Human Gene Editing Receives Science Panel’s Support

NYT Health, 14 February 2017
Author: Amy Harmon
“An influential science advisory group formed by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine on Tuesday lent its support to a once-unthinkable proposition: the modification of human embryos to create genetic traits that can be passed down to future generations. This type of human gene editing has long been seen as an ethical minefield. Researchers fear that the techniques used to prevent genetic diseases might also be used to enhance intelligence, for example, or to create people physically suited to particular tasks, like serving as soldiers.”
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