Monday, May 11, 2009

Celebrating 25 Years of Practical Bioethics

Rosemary Flanigan
May 11, 2009

We had a gala week last week celebrating our 25th anniversary of the Center for Practical Bioethics.Former Senator Jack Danforth gave the talk (he had involved Myra Christopher in the discussion leading up to the Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990) and I shall comment on that when I have read his talk.

But the next morning we heard from four participants of the meeting of directors of ethics programs that was being held in KC, and we had a good crowd for that, too. Eric Kodish from the Cleveland Clinic gave the arguments pro and con about using babies in research that does not directly benefit them. (It was an excellent “doing of ethics” with the arguments clearly made.)

David Magnus from Stanford talked about the ethical issues related to organ donation after cardiac arrest. He set up the problems well: when is dead “dead”??? How resolve conflicts between physicians and institutions?? What if measures to preserve the organs do not benefit the patient? He did an excellent job “placing” the argument.

Alan Meisel from the University of Pittsburg asked if physician-aid-in-dying is inevitable? in error? or both? And pointed out the incremental advances being made by those supporters of the movement. He said we have to do a better job of distinguishing active from passive euthanasia—and I was surprised because I think neither is helpful in this discussion. He had some excellent arguments against the movement.

Finally, Glenn McGee with the American Journal of Bioethics talked on autism (he has an autistic son) and how the media attention on the subject has radically altered parents’ relationships to their autistic children. (You can tell I couldn’t hear him very well—maybe one of our staff or attendees will do a better job here.)

So after all that heady stuff, we’re back to normal in mid-May.


Balancing Faith and Politics, John C. Danforth, The Bioethics Channel, May 8, 8 minutes 39 seconds

Lecture, John C. Danforth, May 7 (pdf document)

Health Care Rationing with Universal Coverage and in Time of Pandemics, Up to Date, KCUR Radio, May 8

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