Archive for May, 2015|Monthly archive page

Infection Control Measures and Debts of Gratitude

In 2015, Bioethics, Public Ethics, Publications on May 26, 2015 at 9:00 am

Health care workers (HCWs) returning home from Ebola-infected regions are subject to various infection control measures (ICMs), including investigative, diagnostic, and liberty-restricting measures. Public health laws justifying the use of ICMs, such as quarantine, have been invoked in recent cases involving HCWs returning home from areas affected by Ebola. In a recent commentary in the American Journal of Bioethics, Diego Silva and A.M. Viens argue that we may owe HCWs subjected to ICMs a debt of gratitude, but it is unclear what the basis of that debt is or how that debt should be paid.

The first 50 people to click here will get free access to the commentary. After the first 50 clicks, only a summary will be made available.

Bioethics as a Governance Practice

In 2015, Annual Lecture on May 15, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Jonathan Montgomery gave the inaugural lecture in the annual series of the Centre for Health Ethics and Law on 7 May 2015. Lecture organiser, Associate Professor A.M. Viens said, “We are extremely pleased to welcome Professor Montgomery back to Southampton to deliver the inaugural annual lecture for the Centre for Health, Ethics and Law. His contribution to the development of health care law, both academically and in his public service, is unrivalled in the UK. In recognition of these contributions, the annual lecture series will be named in his honour.”

Jonathan considered different ways of understanding bioethics; as a subject, a discipline, a field, an enterprise, and a governance practice. He suggested that the last was a neglected perspective that deserved greater consideration. He offered a brief history of bioethics governance in the UK, noting that it was a mixture of bodies charged with general oversight, bodies with responsibility for specific sectors, and ad hoc groups convened to look at single issues. He suggested that Bioethics Governance, envisaged by the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics (2005), had generally been understood as being developed in response either to fears that science was advancing faster than ethical reflection (as exemplified by the establishment of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in 1991), or to scandal (as demonstrated by the governance of health research through statements of principle, ethics committees, and research governance frameworks). He argued that it was also important to see Bioethics Governance as a response to pluralism (when society is not in agreement about bioethical issues but it is necessary to achieve some degree of closure, at least temporarily, to take regulatory decisions). However, if the idea of Bioethics Governance was to be distinguished from more general political decision-making, he suggested it was additionally necessary to see it as a response to claims of relativism (that there was no basis for distinguishing between views). Bioethics Governance denied that this should determine decisions, looking for some form of public reason or deliberative processes to provide legitimacy for regulatory decisions. A satisfactory account of Bioethics Governance would need to recognise the contingency of the circumstances in which questions arose, explain the legitimacy of the exercise of power that it involved, and show that regulatory responses were effective, efficient and proportionate. In conclusion, bioethics could properly be considered in each of the ways outlined, but characterising it as a governance practice brought issues that needed further examination into the spotlight.

His slides can be seen here:
Bioethics as a Governance Practice

Final HEAL seminar in this academic year’s series: Elselijn Kingma speaking on “Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions”

In 2015, Best interests, Bioethics, Meetings, Reproduction on May 5, 2015 at 3:27 pm

We would like to welcome you to our last HEAL seminar in the series for the 2014-15 academic year. It will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 6th at 4pm in Room 4/4053. Our speaker will be Dr. Elselijn Kingma, who will be speaking on “Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions”. Abstract below.

We hope you will also be able to join us for the inaugural HEAL Annual Lecture on Thursday, May 7th at 6pm.

Dr. Elselijn Kingma (Southampton)

Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physicical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions

ABSTRACT It is commonly asserted that pregnant women can harm their unborn child, for example by smoking or drinking alcohol. On these grounds pregnant women are increasingly not just socially, but also criminally held to task for such behaviour. In this paper I argue women cannot harm their foetuses in these particular ways. This is because the concept bringing about harm relies on a particular kind of deontological distinction that underlies both common sense morality and much of the law. This distinction is not able to accommodate the physical intertwinement and interdependence that characterises the maternal-fetal relationship. Harm-talk is therefore inappropriate, and the effects of maternal behaviour on their foetus cannot be analysed within current moral and legal frameworks.