Bioethics @ TIU

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 »

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 »

The Gift of Finitude

Posted March 1st, 2017 by Chris Ralston

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about finitude. About limits. Incompleteness. Even failure. Like the friend of a friend who is dying and has just been admitted to hospice, whose young teenaged daughter is facing the prospect of a life without her mother. Like the colleague who is grieving the loss of both a spouse and a parent within a month of each other. Like… // Read More »

Gattaca validated

Posted November 25th, 2016 by Joe Gibes

In the made-for-bioethics movie Gattaca, when the main character Vincent is born, a nurse in the delivery room draws a drop of his blood, places it in the nifty instant genetic analyzer, and intones, “Heart disorder: 99% probability. Early fatal potential: life expectancy 30.2 years.” (Spoiler alert!) However, Vincent doesn’t let this genetic version of a horoscope control his life, but goes on to beat… // Read More »

The surprisingly small benefit of some very (expensive) Big Ideas

Posted August 5th, 2016 by Joe Gibes

Last week, JAMA published online a Viewpoint provocatively titled, “What Happens When Underperforming Big Ideas in Research Become Entrenched?” The overarching Big Idea to which the article refers is the “narrative positing that a combination of ever-deeper knowledge of subcellular biology, especially genetics, coupled with information technology will lead to transformative improvements in health care and human health.” The article highlights three technologies that are… // 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 »

Slouching Towards Gattaca

Posted April 30th, 2016 by Joe Gibes

Genetics is the determinism of our age (“Your destiny is determined by your genes”). It appears more scientific than the determinisms of previous ages such as astrology (“Your destiny is in the stars”) or Marxism (“Your destiny is in economics”), and thus has much greater appeal to the people who look to science for The Answers. News headlines breathlessly report the discovery of the “gene… // Read More »

UK approves gene editing

Posted February 5th, 2016 by Joe Gibes

This week, UK regulators gave approval to a group of scientists in London to genetically modify human embryos. Dr. Kathy Niakan, the researcher who will be performing the experiments, said, “We would really like to understand the genes needed for a human embryo to develop successfully into a healthy baby. The reason why it is so important is because miscarriages and infertility are extremely common,… // 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 »