Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director

Dementia, nanotech, sterilized deer, chronic illness: we’ve a busy week ahead! On Tuesday the 21st, come hear Tia Powell, MD (Einstein, Bioethics) speak on “Ethical Issues, Dementia and Health Policy.” Her talk, sponsored by the Program on Biomedical Ethics, will begin at 4:30 at the medical school’s Anlyan Center Auditorium, 300 Cedar Street. Note that this is a new location! A light supper will be served, so please RSVP to Karen.Kolb@Yale.edu. On Wednesday the 22nd, come hear Chris Bosso (Northeastern, Public Policy/Urban Affairs) speak to our Technology and Ethics group on “Governing Emerging Technologies: Lessons from a Decade of Nano.” The event will be at 4:15 in the ISPS building, but not in our usual venue: we’ll be upstairs in the ISPS library. On Thursday, come to the Bioethics Center (238 Prospect) at 4:15 to hear  Allen Rutberg (Tufts Veterinary Medicine) speak to our Animal Ethics group on “Wildlife Contraception: Successes and Challenges.”  And later on Thursday, hear Dr. Matthew Weed (Yale/Hastings Fellow) offer “Two Proposals to Facilitate Exposure to Real-World Chronic Health Management for Health Professions Students,” at 7 PM in Linsly-Chittenden Hall Rm 101. Details on Matthew’s talk are in the listings below.

Students at the Yale Law School have organized an all-star event on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Exchanges. Save your Saturday, February  8!

Congratulations to Bioethics Center Executive Committee member Dan Callahan, President Emeritus of the Hastings Center, on the publication of his “Medical Progress and Global Chronic Disease: The Need for a New Model,” in the Brown Journal of World Affairs.

Attention, youthful Facebookers: Mohini Priya Banerjee, Research Assistant at the Hastings Center and an alumna of our Bioethics Summer Institute, has started a new page called Bioethx under 25, where folks like your youthful selves (and also the young at heart, Mohini adds…) can post and read about bioethics. Look and “like”!

If you have an event or a milestone you’d like to see here, email me at Stephen.latham@yale.edu, with the word “Frimail” in your subject-line.

Wednesday, January 22 at 4:15 PM
Technology & Ethics Group
Location: 77 Prospect St, library
Speaker: Chris Bosso, Professor and Associate Dean, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University 
Topic: Governing Emerging Technologies: Lessons from a decade of Nano

Thursday, January 23 at 4:15 PM
Animal Ethics Lecture
Location: 238 Prospect St, conf room
Speaker: Allen T. Rutberg, Ph.D., Director, Center for Animals and Public Policy, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Tufts University
Topic Wildlife Contraception:  Successes and challenges

Thursday, January 23 at 7 PM
Yale/Hastings Fellow Talk
Location: 63 High St, rm 101
Speaker: Matthew Weed PhD
Topic: Two proposals to facilitate exposure to real world chronic health management for health professions students


  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Conferences & Off Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs

Other Items



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Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

*PLEASE REMEMBER: Our end-of-summer-term banquet (July 25th) is also the kickoff for a two-day symposium/presentation of papers by past students and their instructors (July 26th and 27th).  We already have sign-ups.  Do not be left out!  Let me know if you want to give a paper.  More news on this event will follow in coming weeks.  All are invited to attend, even if you are not presenting.

*Center director Steve Latham’s January 8th blog has an entry called “Ventilating the Dead: Two Cases.”  It’s about two different tragedies involving brain death – Jahi McMath and Marlise Munoz – that have appeared in the media during the past few weeks. http://ablogonbioethics.blogspot.com

*Congratulations to Tom Murray, past morning lecturer, who is now Chen Su Lan Centennial Professor at NUS (University of Singapore) on a visiting basis.  Yale and the University of Singapore have committed to a joint teaching venture in Singapore, and instructors from Yale are being selected to teach there.  (I’m still hoping to get Tom back here to give a morning lecture in between his jaunts to Asia – Hint!  Hint!)

*And speaking of the NUS bioethics department, Zohar Lederman (PhD candidate) writes: “Please see attached book review that I wrote with a colleague and was just published!”   The book in question is by Holmes Rolston III, a past Bioethicist-in-Residence at our Center; the book’s title is “A New Environmental Ethics – The Next Millennium for Life of Earth.”  (Congratulations Zohar!  Congratulations Holmes!  Please click here for the review.)

*Lee Nutini writes: “I have been doing quite a bit of public interest work at University of Tennessee Law School in my clinical course and have just been awarded a Summer Fellowship to work with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.  I will be in Cambridge handling a rather large caseload for the summer, including wage & hour, family, and housing law.  I can't be more excited about heading back to the Northeast for the summer!  I'll have to head to New Haven to visit! In other news, I am being published in the coming weeks in the Tennessee Law Review Volume 80, Issue 4.  I wrote a case note concerning a Tennessee Supreme Court dispute over the validity of a married couple's contract for mutual wills, and I'm humbled and proud to get it in print for everyone to read.  I have really enjoyed all of my legal writing thus far, and this was an exciting culminating moment for me.”  (Congratulations Lee, and I hope we see you sometime this summer!)

*Mohini Banerjee writes: “For the past couple months I've been running a twitter called BioEthxUnder25 and have just launched a blog paired with it titled BioEthx Under 25.  The goal of the blog is to provide a venue for younger voices (or young at heart) in the bioethics field to write posts that provide thoughtful, ethical inquiry.  This is part of a greater goal to spread awareness of bioethical issues among the younger generation in hopes of generating debate and engagement.  I am looking for posts for February and March that would be 500-1000 words long on a bioethical topic of the author's choosing.  For instance, the first three posts feature sustainability, aid in dying, and decision-making around having children.  People interested can email me at mobanerj@gmail.com to propose a topic and/or submit a piece.”  (Congratulations and Good Luck Mohini!  I hope you are enjoying your experience at The Hastings Center too!)

*Jessica Richard is now a research assistant at Monash University, Faculty of Law.  (Congratulations Jessica!)

*Ben Ortiz is a resident tenant associate at Elm Campus Partners LLC, New Haven, CT.  (Congratulations Ben!)

*Camila Idrovo is now a faculty research assistant at Georgetown University’s Department of International Health, Washington, DC.  (Congratulations Camila!)

*Sherzel Smith writes: “I am currently attending VU University in Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and doing my Master's (one in Global Health Research, and one in Business Research -- I know, very different -- Ha! Ha!)  I'm also working at a Dutch research institute (it's called ZonMw) trying to determine ways to improve the practices and usage of pharmaceuticals in the Netherlands.  I'm really excited about all this!  I have such fond memories at my time at Yale.  The Bioethics Summer Program really sparked my interest in research.  It was truly my first research experience, and it has directed so much of my studies since!  Sending love to you and to the Yale Bioethics Community!”  (Congratulations and Good Luck Sherzel!)

Of Note:

*After President Mandela’s passing, an article occurred in the Practical Ethics blog, University of Oxford, titled “Should exceptional people receive exceptional medical treatment? 

*The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical recently published a report entitled “Anticipate and Communicate: Ethical Management of Incidental and Secondary Findings in the Clinical, Research, and Direct-to-Consumer Contexts.” 

*Also, their blog (blog.Bioethics.gov) contained an article titled “Discussion Highlights on Ethical Issues Related to Neuroscience.”

*Voices for Vaccines has recently published an article titled “Growing Up Unvaccinated.” 

*The case against ‘the evidence’: a different perspective on evidence-based medicine, D.D.R. Williams, FRCPsych and Jane Garner, FRCPsych, The British Journal of Psychiatry

*”Is Death Optional?,” Muriel R. Gillick, MD, The Hastings Center’s Health Care Cost Monitor (This is an older article but rings true today.)


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This Week on Campus

Tuesday, January 21

Program for Biomedical Ethics Seminar
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 300 Cedar St, Anlyan Auditorium
Speaker: Tia Powell, M.D., Director, Montefiore Center for Bioethics; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry; Professor of Epidemiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Topic: Ethical Issues, Dementia, and Health Policy

Wednesday, January 22

Middle East Studies Colloquium
Time: 12 PM
Location: 77 Prospect St, room A001
Speakers: Kaveh Khoshnood, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health
Hussam Jefee Bahloul, MD, PGY V Psychosomatic Medicine Clinical Fellow, Yale School of Medicine
Topic: The Conflict in Syria: Public Health Dimensions and the Role of Mental Health Professionals

School of Forestry Lecture
Time: 4:45 PM
Location: 205 Prospect St, room 24
Speaker: Jonathan F.P. Rose ’74, President, Jonathan Rose Companies; Co-Founder, Garrison Institute, New York
Topic: Social-Ecological Systems and Growth in the Developing World

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

Health Insurance Exchange Implementation: Early Challenges and Opportunities
Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 8:30 am to 5:15 pm
Join health policy and law experts from around the country in a one-day conference on the current status of health insurance exchange implementation. Panelists will discuss the history behind health insurance exchanges, what’s going right and wrong so far, and how to balance state and federal roles in exchange implementation and operation. For more information, click here. For a Schedule of Events, click here.

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Conserving Nature for the Next 100 Years
The Forest Preserves of Cook County and the Center for Humans and Nature invite you to a free event in honor of the "Next Century Conservation Plan," the Forest Preserves' vision for protecting nature for the next 100 years. Toni Preckwinkle, President, Forest Preserves of Cook County Board will provide opening remarks and Arnold Randall, General Superintendent, will present details about the Forest Preserves' centennial efforts to improve the health and resilience of our native habitats, and inspire new audiences from every corner of Cook County to visit and enjoy the preserves. Center for Humans and Nature scholars will explore thought-provoking questions, offering ideas critical to the future of our urban wilderness. Join us to explore ideas at the nexus of nature, climate change, local governance and social justice, Thursday, February 13, 2014 at Venue SIX10 | Spertus Institute,  610 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605, 2:30 - 6pm  FREE EVENT - CLICK HERE TO REGISTER  (Registration is required)

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2014 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium
Disability Rights in the 21stCentury: Creative Solutions for Achieving the Right to Live in the Worl
April 24-25, 2014
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, Baltimore, Maryland 

The 2014 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium will consist of plenary sessions and workshops facilitated by distinguished law professors, practitioners, and advocates who will discuss topics such as: disability discrimination in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, next steps in Olmstead litigation, rights of parents with disabilities, supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship, and how to work with the media to get the disability rights message across. The luncheon keynote will be given by Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary, Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education.
Documentation for CLE credits will be provided. Registration fee: $175; Student registration fee: $25. To learn more about the symposium and symposium sponsorship opportunities, view the agenda, and register online, please visit https://nfb.org/law-symposium.  You may also download from this Web site a registration form to mail or fax.  Hotel information is also available on the symposium Web site. For additional information, contact: Lou Ann Blake, JD, Law Symposium Coordinator, Jernigan Institute, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, Telephone: 410-659-9314, ext. 2221, E-mail: lblake@nfb.org

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DESIGNING FOR SUCCESS: Ecological Restoration in Times of Change
April 25 and 26, 2014 – Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass
The featured speakers include:  Keith Bowers, President, Biohabitats;  Wendi Goldsmith, CEO, Bioengineering Group; Christopher Neill, Director, Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, MA and Director, Brown-MBL Partnership. This conference will be a gathering of scientists, restoration professionals, government agency personnel, students, and individuals interested in ecological restoration. At this conference, we will discuss many aspects of ecological restoration in times of change, with the general theme of designing for success, including a broad range of ecological restoration projects from small isolated sites to broad regional landscapes. For more information and to register, click here.

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

Green Corps’ Environmental Organizing Fellowship
Early Winter Application Deadline: January 21st, 2014
Green Corps is looking for college graduates who are ready to take on the biggest environmental challenges of our day. In Green Corps’ yearlong paid program, you’ll get intensive training in the skills you need to make a difference in the world. You’ll get hands-on experience fighting to solve urgent environmental problems — global warming, deforestation, water pollution, factory farming and many others — with groups like Sierra Club and Food and Water Watch. And when you graduate from Green Corps, we’ll help you find a career with one of the nation’s leading environmental and social change groups. For more information, visit http://www.greencorps.org/findoutmore.

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Other Items of Interest

Summer Course in Medical Humanities 2014
The Fondazione Lanza (Center for Advanced Studies in Ethics, Padova - Italy ), in collaboration with the Chair of the History of Medicine at the University of Padua and the Department of Medical Humanities at the University of Marmara in Istanbul, is pleased to announce the first edition of the Summer Course in Medical Humanities, which will be held in Padua and Venice from Sunday 7 to Friday 12 September, 2014. For its innovative approach and the importance and usefulness of the topics that will be touched, as well as for the ethical values represented by the different arts in different ages, we believe that such a course can be addressed to all the professionals who have to deal with the care and assistance to the sick and suffering as well as experts in bioethics and all the students of history of medicine and arts. Within the course there will be a section dedicated to paper/poster presentation.  For more information, click here.

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Featured Article

Vance, Ashlee. Illumina’s DNA Supercomputer Ushers In The $1000 Genome. Bloomberg Businessweek. 14 January 2014.
The $1,000 human genome is here. For real this time. Illumina (ILMN), the world’s leading seller of gene sequencing machines, unveiled its HiSeq X (pronounced “High Seek 10”) on Tuesday. The system is the world’s first DNA-crunching supercomputer designed to process 20,000 genomes per year at a cost of $1,000 each. Currently it costs about $10,000 to sequence a human genome. Jay Flatley, Illumina’s chief executive officer, introduced the machine at an investors conference in San Francisco, saying customers will begin receiving the machine this quarter. “This will be a blockbuster product,” he said in an interview. Continue reading...


Beach, Justin. Beliefs On Global Warming Change With The Weather. National Monitor. 14 January 2014.
According to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, recent localized weather seems to have a strong impact on climate change beliefs. Previous studies have suggested that today’s temperature has a bearing on the percentage of people who believe that climate change is happening. The most recent study from the Earth Institute’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions looked at the thought process behind a belief or disbelief in climate change. What they found was that individuals tend to base their feelings on climate change on the most recent stimuli they have been presented with. That stimuli can include but is not limited to today’s weather. Continue reading...

Gillis, Justin. U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Change Woes Will Be Costly. The New York Times. 16 January 2014.
Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found. Continue reading...

Corley, Marisa. Toxic Mercury Seeps Into Arctic Waters. Liberty Voice. 16 January 2014.
A new study published Wednesday in Nature has found that areas of open water in the Arctic are changing the air currents in such a way that mercury from high in the Earth’s atmosphere is being brought down close to the surface. This is causing the toxic mercury to seep into the waters of the Arctic ocean, which in turn could begin to pollute the surrounding oceans, with animals and fish containing toxic levels of mercury. Continue reading...


Matilda, Benita. Fast Food Consumption Not A Major Cause For Rising Rate Of Childhood Obesity. Science World Report. 16 January 2014.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, claims that fast food consumption is only part of, and a result, of general poor dietary habits that are encouraged by parents and caregivers. Several studies have attributed the growing rate of fast food consumption as a major risk factor for rise in childhood obesity. However, this study claims that fast food is not the culprit. Continue reading...

Health and Medicine

Marchione, Marilynn. Study Dispels ‘Obesity Paradox’ Idea For Diabetics. Bloomberg Businessweek. 15 January 2014.
The "obesity paradox" — the controversial notion that being overweight might actually be healthier for some people with diabetes — seems to be a myth, researchers report. A major study finds there's no survival advantage to being large, and a disadvantage to being very large. Continue reading...

Pittman, David. Lack of Context Likely In Release Of Doc Pay Data, Experts Say. MedPageToday. 15 January 2014.
Releasing data showing how much money individual doctors have received for treating Medicare patients could cause public misunderstanding while failing to achieve significant change, a range of voices in the medical community cautioned Wednesday. It has long been hoped that learning which doctors are more costly to Medicare would result in consumers and healthcare purchasers steering their business to lower-cost providers. That would mean saving money and reducing overall healthcare spending. In an announcement that reversed more than 3 decades of federal policy on revealing individual physician payments under Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said it will make "case-by-case determinations" on public information requests for what the program pays individual physicians. Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Krumholz, Harlan. Blood Pressure Ruckus Reveals Big Secret in Medicine. NPR. 15 January 2014.
There has been a carefully guarded secret in medicine: Evidence is often inconclusive, and experts commonly disagree about what it means. Most medical decisions aren't cut and dried. Instead they're usually made with uncertainty about what is best for each person. This uncertainty secret has been revealed in a very public disagreement among experts about who should be treated for high blood pressure. The controversy hinges on the level of blood pressure that should serve as a trigger for treatment. The new guidelines says that people 60 years and older can seek a systolic blood pressure goal (the top number) of 150 or less. The old guidelines say that 140 or less should be the goal. But now some experts who were part of the group responsible for the new advice seem to have changed their minds. They're publicly splitting from the new guidelines that still bear their names and saying the old, lower treatment goal is the one to follow. Continue reading...

LaFraniere, Sharon. H.I.V.-Positive Person, Told Otherwise, Is Being Sought. The New York Times. 15 January 2014.
For the last six weeks, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has been engaged in a highly unusual effort to identify an individual who is H.I.V. positive but was wrongly informed that he or she was H.I.V. negative after a mix-up of blood samples taken at the hospital. The mistake occurred in late October when the military’s flagship hospital, in Bethesda, Md., sent 150 blood samples to a contract laboratory for analysis. One sample tested positive for H.I.V., hospital officials said, but it was wrongly labeled with the name of a patient who subsequent tests showed was not infected. A hunt is now underway to identify the infected person, who may be in need of treatment and could be unknowingly infecting others through unprotected sex or the sharing of needles. Continue reading...

The Associated Press. Patients With Deadly TB Released in South Africa. 16 January 2014.
The spread of a virtually untreatable form of tuberculosis in South Africa is being fuelled by the release of infected patients into the general community, according to a new study.  Scientists tracked 107 patients with extensively drug-resistant TB, also known as XDR-TB in three South African provinces between 2008 and 2012. Despite most patients being treated with about eight TB drugs, 78 died. More than 40 others were released from hospitals without further monitoring. TB is an infectious bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs and is often spread by coughing and sneezing. Continue reading...


Knox, Richard. Half Of A Drug’s Power Comes From Thinking It Will Work. NPR. 10 January 2014.
When you take a pill, you and your doctor hope it will work — and that helps it work. That's not a new idea. But now researchers say they know just how much of a drug's effect comes from the patient's expectation: at least half. When patients in the midst of a migraine attack took a dummy pill they thought was a widely used migraine drug, it reduced their pain roughly as much as when they took the real drug thinking it was a placebo. Continue reading...


Justin, Denise. China Animal-Cloning ‘Factories’ Produce 500 Cloned Pigs A Year For Food, Medical Research. Opposing Views. 15 January 2014.
China is now cloning pigs “on an industrial scale,” according to BBC News, which takes us on a virtual tour of the Beijing Genomics Institute to view the new techniques being used to 'mass produce' cloned versions of the animal. The BGI is the world’s largest center for cloning animals. It produces 500 cloned pigs a year for gene sequencing of the species—in other words, to continue to produce animals that have specific characteristics. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Brierley, Joe. Preventing arrests in the intensive care unit. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2013.
The article by Lynoe and Leijonhufvud raises important issues about the interaction between hospital staff and police in cases in which suggested medical negligence crosses into the arena of serious legal offences, which range from murder and homicide to serious assault. Although arising in Sweden, the issues raised in this case are generalizable. Healthcare staff are subject to the laws of their country. However, Lynoe and Leijonhufvud raise the issue of a conflict between what they term 'soft law'-the rules, regulations and ethics of healthcare practice-and the law of the land. However, if the two conflict generally the former must bow to the latter. There are of course cases in which the latter is either morally suspect or interpreted in such a way by corrupt regimes, but that is not the case here. However, Lynoe and Leijonhufvud do argue that Swedish national law, as with many jurisdictions, lacks the subtlety to deal with complex healthcare end-of-life cases. Specifically, they identify two main errors: 1. Thiopentone was given to an infant by at 'least one other physician' and 'probably several physicians' to treat convulsions and induce anaesthesia before WLST. However, 'contrary to regulations, these thiopentone administrations were never recorded'. 2. There was a failure of the prosecuting authorities to review the possible limitations of postmortem sampling so long after death, to consider all possible mechanisms of the thiopentone level and to arrange an initial peer review of the medicolegal report before police action. The current author would add a third: 3. Investigation by hospital authorities and the National Board of Health and Welfare ought to have occurred after death, including a full postmortem. The UK's Shipman case is considered. Continue reading…

Chambers, Tod. Taking bioethics personally. Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics. December 2013.
This narrative symposium examines the relationship of bioethics practice to personal experiences of illness. A call for stories was developed by Tod Chambers, the symposium editor, and editorial staff and was sent to several commonly used bioethics listservs and posted on the Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics website. The call asked authors to relate a personal story of being ill or caring for a person who is ill, and to describe how this affected how they think about bioethical questions and the practice of medicine. Eighteen individuals were invited to submit full stories based on review of their proposals. Twelve stories are published in this symposium, and six supplemental stories are published online only through Project MUSE. Authors explore themes of vulnerability, suffering, communication, voluntariness, cultural barriers, and flaws in local healthcare systems through stories about their own illnesses or about caring for children, partners, parents and grandparents. Commentary articles by Arthur Frank, Bradley Lewis, and Carol Taylor follow the collection of personal narratives. Continue reading…

Kraemer, Felicitas. Authenticity or autonomy? When deep brain stimulation causes a dilemma. Journal of Medical Ethics. December 2013.
While deep brain stimulation (DBS) for patients with Parkinson's disease has typically raised ethical questions about autonomy, accountability and personal identity, recent research indicates that we need to begin taking into account issues surrounding the patients’ feelings of authenticity and alienation as well. In order to bring out the relevance of this dimension to ethical considerations of DBS, I analyse a recent case study of a Dutch patient who, as a result of DBS, faced a dilemma between autonomy and authenticity. This case study is meant to point out the normatively meaningful tension patients under DBS experience between authenticity and autonomy. Continue reading…

Lynoe, Niels. Police in an intensive care unit: What can happen? Journal of Medical Ethics. 2013.
During spring 2009 a Swedish senior paediatric intensivist and associate professor was detained and later prosecuted for mercy-killing a child with severe brain damage. The intensivist was accused of having used high doses of thiopental after having withdrawn life-sustaining treatment when the child was imminently dying. After more than 2.5 years of investigation the physician was acquitted by the Stockholm City Court. The court additionally stated that the physician had provided good end-of-life care. Since the trial it has become evident that the accusation was based on a problematic medicolegal report. Nevertheless, the event has had severe negative consequences for the physician personally and professionally, and probably also, in general, for patients in the final stage of life. This case illustrates, together with other cases, that there is a lack of correspondence between ethical soft law/healthcare law and the Penal Code. To optimise medical practice we suggest that the criminal law be carefully examined and if possible changed. Furthermore, we suggest a peer-review system for assessing medicolegal reports in cases of suspected homicide. Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Johnson, Scott K. Acid rain and ozone depletion helped make the Great Dying great. January 11, 2014.
Climate models usually end up in the news because of projections of future climate, but many researchers use the models to study other planets or the Earth's past. They can help test hypotheses about past climate events by comparing model simulations to estimates of past climates obtained from things like ice and sediment cores. Continue reading…

Gitig, Diana. Immune cells inadvertently help bacteria form persistent infections. January 12, 2014.
Antibiotic resistance can probably be considered the problem of the century. As infectious diseases evolve the ability to evade or disable more of our drugs, we're struggling to come up with alternative approaches to get them under control. Bacterial infections can often persist despite repeated antibiotic treatments, like the C. difficile that inspired one of the first fecal transplants in 1999. Continue reading…

Willkinson, Allie. Acceptance of global warming rises on warm days. January 14, 2014.
Last week, much of the United States experienced the coldest weather in two decades, as temperatures plummeted below freezing in many states. Many newscasters on conservative media outlets were using the record-breaking cold snap to deny the existence of global warming, making comments such as “All of this snow and still cries of global warming.” Similar claims appeared on social media. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. Three arguments about climate change that should never be used. January 17, 2014.
Stop me if you've heard any of these before:
"The warming is just part of a natural cycle."
"We've been warming up since the last ice age."
"To think humanity can influence the climate is pure arrogance." Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. Another kind of health care security. January 13, 2014.
The House of Representatives has spent so much time debating and approving largely pointless bills to repeal or defund Obamacare that it's tempting to ignore anything coming out of that body on that topic. But that would be a mistake in the case of a measure approved Friday to protect health insurance buyers against data theft. This one is not symbolic or hyperpartisan, and it deserves to become law. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. The 50-year war on smoking.  January 10, 2014.
The 1964 U.S. Surgeon General's report on smoking — the first official acknowledgment by the federal government that smoking kills — was an extraordinarily progressive document for its time. It swiftly led to a federal law that restricted tobacco advertising and required the now-familiar warning label on each pack of cigarettes. Continue reading...

Caplan, Arthur L. and Pope, Thaddeus M. Pregnant and dead in Texas: A bad law, badly interpreted. January 16, 2014.
Marlise Munoz is dead. Yet her body is in a hospital intensive care unit, maintained on a ventilator. Why? Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. A Good Ruling Stands. January 13, 2014.
The Supreme Court made a good call, announced Monday, not to review a 2013 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which struck down Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban as unconstitutional. For women in Arizona, the appellate ruling is critically important in protecting their reproductive rights. Continue reading…

Editorial. Abortion Rights. Uphold Buffer Zones. January 13, 2014.
Abortion is one of the most emotionally fraught issues in American society, and public discussion often turns into an attack on the women who choose to exercise their constitutionally protected rights. Continue reading…

Editorial. Health Care Reform Survives a Lawsuit. January 16, 2014.
A long-shot lawsuit that could have damaged the effectiveness of health care reform got a well-deserved brushoff from a federal district judge on Wednesday. The suit was brought with the help of conservative legal groups and cheered on by Congressional Republicans eager to disable the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading…

Editorial. Spain’s Alarming Abortion Debate. January 17, 2014.
Spain’s conservative Popular Party, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, is pushing a bill that would restrict reproductive rights so severely that many women would be forced to travel abroad to seek abortions or turn to illegal and risky procedures. The bill would allow abortion only in the case of rape or grave danger to the health of the mother as determined by two independent medical professionals. Minors who seek abortions would need parental approval. Fetal abnormalities would no longer qualify as a reason to terminate a pregnancy. If the bill is passed, Spain will become the first member of the European Union to retreat from a decades-long trend toward safe and legal abortion. Continue reading…


Bazelon, Emily.  You Do Not Have the Right to Be Left Alone.  January 15, 2014.
Most of the time, abortion providers and supporters argue for treating abortion as a regular part of medicine and women’s health. In reaction to the rash of new abortion restrictions in Republican-controlled statehouses, the Center for Reproductive Rights wrote, “No medical procedures other than abortion are targeted for restrictions aimed at reducing their effectiveness and increasing their expense and inconvenience.” And yet there is one area in which clinics do want special treatment from the government: They want to keep opponents of abortion away from the clinic entrances patients, staff, and providers must walk through. Continue reading…

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