Category Archives: Bioethics

Immigrant Detention, Genetic Testing, and Moral Obligations to LGBT Youth: Theories & Applications in Contemporary Ethics

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The Fordham University Center for Ethics Education is hosting a 3-day intensive cross-disciplinary graduate course entitled “Theories and Applications in Contemporary Ethics.” The course will take place next week, from May 19-21, 2015 on the Rose Hill campus.

Each day will feature two Fordham faculty members from different departments presenting on and discussing different topics in contemporary ethics. Using a team-teaching approach, this course brings together faculty from six disciplines to provide foundational knowledge about moral philosophy, moral theology, and bioethics, and features lectures and case discussion on issues of current social importance.

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What Mad Men’s Betty Draper-Francis Can Teach Us About Paternalism in Medicine

January Jones as Betty Draper-Francis on AMC's Mad Men.

January Jones as Betty Draper-Francis on AMC’s Mad Men.

By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

The penultimate episode of AMC’s Mad Men provided an all-too-familiar portrayal of the paternalistic nature of medicine via the handling of Betty Draper-Francis’s diagnosis of lung cancer. While the episode takes place in 1970 and there has since been a gradual shift to a more patient-centered approach in medicine, it offers a glimpse into power imbalances in medical care that still can occur today.

When Betty’s new classmates bring her to the emergency room, the first words out of the doctor’s mouth are “Mrs. Francis, is it possible to get your husband down here?” Betty assumes it is for the purpose of driving her home, but the doctor assures her that it is, in fact, for the purpose of explaining her condition to her husband, Henry, either prior to or at the same time he discloses the diagnosis to Betty.

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Is the moratorium on editing the human genome ethically justifiable?

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Last month, leading scientists called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of new technologies that would enable editing of the human genome. If put into practice, this technique has the ability to alter human DNA that is inherited, thereby changing the human germline and potentially controlling human heredity.

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Fordham’s Dr. Celia B. Fisher weighs in on failed HIV prevention trial in Africa

A recent failed HIV prevention drug trial in Africa has raised concerns over the ethical design and implementation of research involving payment to participants in poor countries.

According to the New York Times: “The trial — known by the acronym Voice, for Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic — was abruptly halted by independent safety monitors because it was not working: Women who were given pills or vaginal gels containing anti-H.I.V. drugs were becoming infected at roughly the same rate as women who were given placebos.”

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher is also the director of the HIV and Drug Abuse Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) —  a program funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (# 1R25DA031608-01), for which she also serves as the principal investigator.

“Be wary of blaming payment for research participation for inadequate research methods and participant consultation,” Fisher, an internationally renowned expert in research ethics and health disparities, advised.

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Fordham RETI Faculty Member Develops Online Overdose Education Modules

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An alarming increase in overdose, largely from opioid-associated painkillers, but also heroin, has been recorded nationwide. In response, Dr. Janie Simmons – a researcher at the National Development & Research Institute, and member of the Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute – in collaboration with an expert team of physicians, nurses, other substance use researchers, and curriculum and graphic designers – created two interactive, computer-based, overdose prevention education modules.

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Buy Buy Baby? The Ethics of Crowdfunding Babies

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By: Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.

Between adoption and advancing reproductive technologies, there are ever-increasing options for individuals and families who wish to have a baby. Recent reports indicate that the high costs associated with these processes have resulted in some using crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.com and GoFundMe.com to raise money for fees associated with adoption, surrogacy, and assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Indeed, certain forms of assisted reproduction raise ethical questions in and of themselves, but in this case, our concern is whether it matters how funds for these processes are raised, and who provides the funding. In other words, is utilizing a crowdfunding website an ethically acceptable way to raise funds for adoption, IVF, and surrogacy? If so, is it significant who pays for these processes? Is anything owed to the people who contribute?

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Dr. Celia B. Fisher Contributes to National Discussion on Ethical Review & Oversight Issues in Standard of Care Research

Common clinical practices might lack a robust evidence base if there have not been empirical interventional research studies to compare an array of available routine or standard treatment options. Fordham University Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher, an internationally renowned expert on empirical research on research ethics, recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in an Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop aimed to inform practice and policy of regulated research studies involving standard of care interventions.

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