Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ethical Questions Remain After Supreme Court Ruling

The US Supreme Court has ruled and now it’s time to determine what’s next for reforming America’s healthcare system. 

In a statement, John Carney, president and CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics, said the Court’s decision only protects the initial phase of healthcare reform, and much work remains to create a healthcare system that is just, ethical, fair and humane.

Carney says in coming weeks the Center will promote dialogue on the ethics of healthcare reform as we move past the Supreme Court ruling.


·         Supreme Court upholds Obama’s health-care law, Robert Barnes, N.C. Aizenman and William Branigin, Washington Post, June 28, 2012

·         Center statement, Ethical Implications of the US Supreme Court Ruling, John Carney

·         Just the Beginning: The Supreme Court and Ethical Healthcare Reform, John Carney, Myra Christopher and Terry Rosell, The Bioethics Channel podcast


Monday, June 25, 2012

Introducing: The Frontiers Podcast

The Frontiers Podcast focuses on individuals and institutions associated with Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. 

Headquartered at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Frontiers is a network of scientists from across the Kansas City region and the state of Kansas working on translational research — research that transforms laboratory discoveries into treatments and cures.

Frontiers is part of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Consortium, a national group of medical research institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health. The Center for Practical Bioethics is a partner of this endeavor.

In this edition of The Frontiers Podcast we mark Frontier’s one year anniversary of the CTSA grant to the University of Kansas. Richard Barohn, MD, is director of Frontiers, and Lauren Aaronson, PhD, is deputy director.

For more information on Frontiers, click here.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Ethics of Electronic Health Records

Ross White
Bioethics Forum – The Hastings Center
June 19, 2012

How should we adequately balance the promises of quality improvement and clinical effectiveness made possible with EHRs against the right of patients to know how and when their health information is being used? 

Who owns health data: the patient or the providers who record it? Where should this data be stored: at the office of the health provider or in the “cloud” behind a secure network?


Podcast: Legal and Ethical? Healthcare Information Exchanges, Jeff Ellis, JD and Glenn McGee, PhD, August 18, 2011


Monday, June 18, 2012

Part 2: Pay Bone Marrow Donors?

As will be evident in this podcast, Myra Christopher and I do not agree on the question of compensation for marrow or blood stem cells "donation."

I think we would agree (do we?) that federal policy ought not to be driven by one heart-rending case, as depicted in the Rock Center with Brian Williams piece from June 14, 2012.

It also seems to me less than civil and fair to depict those who disagree with compensation proposals, like Dr Boo of the National Marrow Donor Program, as simply cold-hearted rationalists (and possibly self-interested). That is what NBC's Dr Snyderman appeared to be doing, however. Hardly a stellar bit of journalism, in my opinion.

Yet the issue is quite interesting, even as the particular case (the Flynn family) is tragic and troubling. It is noted by the journalist that the Flynn twins had controversially been conceived, using IVF procedures and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, specifically for the purpose of becoming their older sister's marrow and stem cells donors. 

I think they glossed over, however, some ethical implications of the fact that this normative stretch, by Kantian measures, yielded the unintended consequences of the twins themselves having Fanconi anemia. So now there are three children in need of a stem cell transplant, and not just the one.

The mother's response? To propose yet another normative stretch, or break: Reclassify marrow as a non-organ blood product, hence not subject to NOTA (1984 law), and commodify stem cells from marrow and blood.

Dr Boo and most BMT physicians asked thus far are opposed, in part on grounds of reaping further unintended consequences including that of a possible net loss of available stem cell donors for transplantation.

Some of us also think it is begging the question, a circular argument, to claim that it ought to be permissible to pay marrow "donors" on grounds that we already do so for human plasma, sperm, ova, hair, and loaner wombs for surrogate pregnancy. Perhaps, instead, we ought not to pay anyone for any human body part or product?

I wish that Dr Snyderman, Brian Williams and Rock Center had done a bit of ethics in the process of reporting a sad story with a moralistic spin.


Tarris Rosell, PhD, DMin
Rosemary Flanigan Chair
Center for Practical Bioethics


Friday, June 15, 2012

Paying Blood Marrow Donors?

Should blood marrow donors be paid? That question was considered during a June 14, 2012 edition of Rock Center with Brian Williams on NBC-TV.  

Myra Christopher and Terry Rosell consider the question in this edition of The Bioethics Channel with Lorell LaBoube.