Bioethics @ TIU

Giving people nearing the end of life the same protection we offer children

Posted September 13th, 2017 by Steve Phillips

Tony Walter writing on the website The Conversation suggests an interesting perspective on how society ought to think about those of us who are at the end of life. He suggests that we need to provide the same protection for them that we offer to children. He is not suggesting that we take away the autonomy and independence of our parents and grandparents, but that… // Read More »

More about Charlie Gard

Posted July 20th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

Dr. Robert Truog, the bioethicist and transplant physician who has pushed the envelope on the definition of death, has weighed in on the Charlie Gard case in a “Perspectives” piece that is generally available (i.e., without a subscription) from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).   By all means read it. Dr. Truog approaches the case from the standpoint of limiting medical research—indeed, that’s… // Read More »

The Prognosis for Whole Brain Death is…

Posted July 18th, 2017 by Mark McQuain

Recent court proceedings bring the case of Jahi McMath back into the bioethical news. As you will recall, she had medical complications following a surgical procedure in 2013 and was declared brain dead. The family argued for continued life support, which the hospital denied (since she met the criteria for whole brain death). After much legal wrangling, she was transferred to New Jersey, where she… // Read More »

Charlie Gard, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Limits of “Conscience”

Posted July 6th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

I would venture that most bioethicists would agree it would be ethically permissible to remove life support and active care from little Charlie Gard, and let him die.   The hospital in Britain where he has been receiving his care wants to do that, and the courts agree.  But why do they insist on this action when his parents want to transfer him for another try… // Read More »

PAS in California: the first 6 months

Posted June 29th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

In a 2016 data report, the California Department of Public Health says that in the first 6 months after California enacted the “End of Life Option Act,” 111 people committed suicide with the help of a doctor’s intentionally lethal prescription, as permitted under the terms of the law.  The time period reviewed was the last 6 months of 2016. The people in question are understood… // Read More »

Most pressing bioethics issue

Posted June 7th, 2017 by Steve Phillips

In yesterday’s post Mark McQuain asked the readers of this blog what they consider to be the most pressing bioethics issue in the context of a call for our president to establish a bioethics council. He referred to my recent post on reproductive ethics and the manufacturing of children. I think that is important. I also think that abortion including the aborting of children with… // Read More »

Euthanasia in Canada: Early Returns

Posted June 1st, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

Last week’s New England Journal of Medicine carried a report from physicians in Toronto about early results implementing “Medical Assistance in Dying,” or “MAiD,” the preferred euphemism for doctor-assisted suicide or euthanasia, in Canada. “MAiD” became legally sanctioned throughout Canada in 2016.  It includes not only assisted suicide—where a doctor provides a patient with a drug prescription intended to be lethal if taken as directed—but… // Read More »


Posted May 18th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

Brief comments on four short articles from this week, on disparate topics: James Capretta of the American Enterprise Institute (meaning he is politically right of center) pleads in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) for compromise between Republicans and Democrats on further healthcare policy reform.  Arguing that the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) may never pass, he believes that a better result… // Read More »

On Slippery Slopes

Posted April 3rd, 2017 by Neil Skjoldal

In a recent commentary ethicist Arthur Caplan discusses the difference between physician-assisted dying (which he finds morally permissible) and physician-assisted suicide (which he finds troubling). He notes that “there are some very disturbing developments” in Belgium and Holland. Instead of having a terminal illness as a trigger, these countries have a different standard: “Are you suffering and is it irremediable?” Caplan notes, “During the past year,… // Read More »

What are the Ethics of Avoidance?

Posted March 14th, 2017 by Tom Garigan

Mark McQuain, in his February 21st blog post, discussed an interesting article which proposed that ethical decisions be made by robots. Although the author’s specific arguments invite numerous responses, underneath these arguments lies the question: why does modern man spend such effort to use technology to rid himself of yet another intrinsic function of his existence? It seems to me that this wish to pass… // Read More »