Bioethics @ TIU

Eugenic immigration policies revisited

Posted January 13th, 2018 by Joe Gibes

Many people, when they think of the history of eugenics, think of Nazi Germany. However, eugenics was widely accepted and implemented as policy in America long before the Nazis rose to power. At the beginning of the 20th century, the numbers of immigrants to the United States were increasing rapidly. This greatly alarmed those who were aligned with the eugenics movement, the quasi-scientific movement to preserve… // Read More »

Buck v Bell at 90 years old

Posted June 5th, 2017 by Neil Skjoldal

Last month marked the 90th anniversary of Buck v Bell. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the Supreme Court decision that ruled that Virginia’s sterilization law was constitutional and infamously stated regarding the litigant Carrie Buck, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” In his 2016 book Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck (Penguin), Adam Cohen goes over the facts of… // Read More »

All We Need is (Unconditional) Love

Posted April 26th, 2017 by Chris Ralston

On March 24, 2017, Joe Gibes posted an entry on this blog, entitled “A ‘disabled’ person speaks out against a particular form of discrimination.”[1] That post featured links to several stories about Kathleen Humberstone, a young woman with Down Syndrome who spoke at a recent UN event commemorating World Down Syndrome Day, which was observed on March 21. After reading through Joe’s post and the… // Read More »

How to make Nazi doctors

Posted April 21st, 2017 by Joe Gibes

Most people who go into medicine have as at least part of their motivation the desire to help other people. I’m sure this was as true in 1930’s Germany as anywhere else. So how did a cadre of Nazi doctors come not only to commit crimes against humanity, but also to defend the moral correctness of their conduct when placed on trial for those crimes?… // Read More »

A “disabled” person speaks out against a particular form of discrimination

Posted March 24th, 2017 by Joe Gibes

Amidst lots of dark and tragic stories, a bright ray on the BBC website this week: Kathleen Humberstone, a 17 year-old English girl with Down syndrome, addressed the UN in Geneva to mark World Down Syndrome Day. Rather than reading anything I have to say, a far better use of your time would be to read what Ms. Humberstone said. You can find the full text here; if you scroll down… // Read More »

Testing, testing: Prenatal genetic screening

Posted June 10th, 2016 by Joe Gibes

The June 2016 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology includes a study of the conversations between patients and “Health Care Providers” about prenatal genetic screening (PGS). The objective of the study was to “assess how obstetric health care providers counsel patients regarding prenatal genetic screening and how these conversations influence patients’ screening decisions.” PGS refers to blood and ultrasound tests performed early in pregnancy to determine… // Read More »

Technique and Eugenics: my response to the question Jon Holmlund asks about gene editing

Posted May 9th, 2015 by Joe Gibes

Jon Holmlund has asked in this blog whether germ-line modification for the purpose of eliminating genetic diseases (NOT for enhancement), if it could be done safely and equitably, would be ethically acceptable. I argue no, for at least three reasons: we humans are virtually incapable of limiting our use of technology, the technology of gene editing is inescapably eugenic, and we humans are incorrigibly eugenic…. // Read More »

Bioethics Exam

Posted November 21st, 2014 by Joe Gibes

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… // Read More »

PGD, BRCA, and the difference between Diseases and Risk Factors: “The lamps are going out . . .”

Posted February 21st, 2014 by Joe Gibes

It is currently estimated that up to 65% of women with the BRCA gene mutation will develop breast cancer. Monday’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on the growing number of women with the BRCA gene mutation who are undergoing in-vitro fertilization, having the resultant embryos tested for the presence of the mutation via preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), and choosing to implant only those free of… // Read More »

In memoriam: 50 years ago today

Posted November 22nd, 2013 by Joe Gibes

On this day 50 years ago, the news of the deaths of two authors, whose writings were to become warning texts for bioethics, was overshadowed by the assassination of JFK on the same day as their deaths. The two were C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley. Lewis wrote The Abolition of Man, a volume whose brevity belies its consequence. It starts by defending the existence of… // Read More »