Bioethics Exam

In keeping with the evaluation-obsessed spirit of the time, here is a little bioethics test. No multiple-choice fill-in-the-bubbles here, no simple true/false; but bioethics usually isn’t so simple, is it? So it’s OK if you don’t have a No. 2 pencil, you can still take today’s exam!


1. The patient-physician relationship depends on trust, and close observation, and appreciating subtleties, and giving one’s full attention to another person. So, who thought that making the doctor spend the office visit typing into a computer was actually a good idea???

2. Why does the NRA know better than physicians in Florida what they should be saying to their patients in the exam room?

3. What is just and right about a medical insurance system in which people have to stay in jobs they hate because of the fear of getting sick, and which bankrupts many people who get a serious illness? Give examples to support your answer.

4. If doctors have huge malpractice premiums, which they pay for by charging patients more for medical care, then essentially patients are paying doctors so the doctors can protect themselves from patients. Does this make sense? Explain.

5. Compare and contrast: Why should taking one’s own life be considered a more dignified death than any other? Is there really any dignity in death itself, or is it in the way that we face it?

6. Why should doctors be trusted more than anybody else with the right to kill someone?

7. If all of these prenatal genetic tests weren’t developed and marketed for specifically eugenic purposes, then just what were they developed and marketed for?

8. Is there any evidence that “evidence-based medicine” (aka statistic-based medicine) is better than whatever we did before?

9. Is abortion the problem, or is it the symptom of a lot of other problems?

10. In the DSM-V (the latest version of the official guidebook to diagnosing psychiatric illness), grief over the death of a loved one that lasts longer than two weeks can now be considered a disease and treated with medications. What will be the next normal human experience to be turned into a disease?


11. What does it mean to be human? Who gets to decide?

*  *  *

Since this is an ethics blog, you’re on your honor to score yourself fairly. Good providence!

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Carol J. Eblen
Carol J. Eblen
5 years ago

What a terrific exam! Thoughtful and pertinent questions that make us look at ugly truths about our culture and its values and wonder where humans are going in the future.

While there are many good things to celebrate such as inclusiveness and civil rights and more personal freedom, what is the price of licencing personal freedoms that undermine the public good?

As we become more secular and Christianity is no longer a partner of our democratic Republic, as it was in the beginning of our country, will the USA finally get around to removing all mention of God from our money? Are money and profits and good order in which profits can flourish really the only valuea that are protected by the law and The Constitution of secular governments under Capitalism?

The epidemic of profit-driven cynical, violent and crude and rude and pornographic entertainment that concentrates on dead bodies and the joy of any kind of sex with anybody that dominates our Media invades American life and deprives children of safe nests and innocent childhood that produces healthy adults.

The movies and television and books and the Church (who is losing influence and numbers) and families and friends and teachers define for the growing child what it is to be human. Why are so many of our children killing each other? Why is there so much mental illness? Why is divorce, adultery, abortion, and murder so common? Why the preoccupation in this century with the body and its parts and the neglect of the “spirit” and the denial of the “soul” of mankind.

Is it Hollywood and Madison Avenue who are defining what it is to be human? Blah! Blah! Does life imitate the movies or do movies imitate life?

Thanks for the exercise. I like where you are coming from, good Doctor Joe Gibes! May God Bless You and your good work.

Kate Nelson
Kate Nelson
5 years ago

Such great questions, both in the blog and in Ms. Eblen’s response. Thank you for enlarging our capacitiy to think outside of the little box that our media/social system has delineated (and would like us to remain?). Love the underlying humor and bit of sarcasm, Dr. Gibes.