Suppression of Necessary Gun Violence Research


By Colette Berg

Late in July 2015, my mother asked a surgeon friend of hers his opinion on gun control. He shook his head sadly and said, “I’ve operated on good guys shot by burglars, I’ve operated on parents accidentally shot by their children and children accidentally shot by their parents. But never have I once operated on a bad guy shot by a good guy.” He does not buy the popular notion that “good guys” with guns can defend themselves from “bad guys” with guns. Of course, this an anecdote from the life of one surgeon. However, most peoples’ opinions on gun control are based on intuition and personal experience rather than data. Good data about gun violence is hard to find, because Congress has refused to provide funding for gun violence research since 1996.

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Beyond Partisan: Voting While Catholic in 2016


By Tim Colvin

For many faithful Catholics and Christians of all denominations, even for many Americans who are not religious, this election has painted a very stark picture: we are forced to choose between the two most flawed and disliked candidates in recent political memory. Many Americans have chosen to vote for third parties as a way to vent their frustration, while others, including myself, have decided that no candidate is fit to lead our country and have decided to not vote at all. I am particularly disappointed that I feel the need to abstain from voting, as this is the first presidential election I can participate in, but I feel as I have a greater duty to my principles and conscience.

But perhaps there is also an opportunity in this election, an opportunity for creative destruction, for new philosophies and ideas to emerge. For the past several decades it has felt like Christians have become more or less clients of the Republican Party; Republicans will take a stand (or will at least pay lip-service) to those particular issues (especially social issues) and Christians will get in line to pull the lever for the Republican candidate.

And now that the culture wars are over for the most part – gay rights and the sexual revolution are arguably, mostly settled issues – the rise of Donald Trump represents a post- culture war Republican Party, where issues of sexual morality have taken a back seat, and issues dealing with economics and immigration have come to the fore. Many faithful Christians have latched themselves, in my view wrongly, to Trump in the hope that he will protect in the battles to come over religious liberty. But as I mentioned, Trump is a candidate who sees social issues as almost second tier, and hardly ever mentions them; even on some occasions taking the side traditionally seen as liberal.

But perhaps out of the creative destruction left behind by the 2016 election, there is a chance to come up with a more Catholic, communitarian political philosophy. Communitarianism, which places an emphasis on the individual’s connection to a wider community, has never been popular in the United States, which has always preferred to have the individual as the most basic unit in its politics. There are already some on the right who have begun to retool the Republican ideology to fit a 21st century context, who see the current Republican outlook mired down in the Reaganism of the 1980s.

Known as “reform conservatives” or “reformicons,” these conservative intellectuals have a lot to offer the Republican Party, such as making the over-encumbered welfare system more pro-family and shifting the party away from its titans of industry image. Of course this revival in Christian thinking should not take place in only one party, and Christians should not feel pigeonholed into supporting just one party. There seems to be a search for a political messiah, a single leader who will save our nation from its political troubles and lead it towards salvation, but this hope is deeply misguided and hopelessly idealistic.

Not all of our problems can or will be solved by politics, and should not dare to hope that politics can deliver us from the evils of this life. I believe a Christian mindset, which accepts that man is a fallen creature, can introduce a healthy dose of realism into the political community.

Tim Colvin is a senior at Fordham University.  He is currently enrolled in Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education Five Year BA-BS/MA Ethics and Society Program, and is a dual major in Political Science and Classical Civilization with a minor in Philosophy. 

Fordham Study Addresses Health Care of Bisexual Adolescent Girls

For bisexual female adolescents,  proper sexual healthcare is difficult to obtain due to healthcare providers’ judgmental attitudes and assumptions of patient heterosexuality, and lack of opportunities for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing. Additionally, youth openness with healthcare providers is restricted due to stigma experienced within families of bisexual teen girls and concerns of confidentiality. These findings were published in LGBT Health, a Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publication

Principle investigators of this NIH-funded study, Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education and Dr. Brian Mustanski, Director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, along with Drs. Miriam Arbeit and Kathryn Macapagal, describe these health care disparities in the article, Bisexual Invisibility and the Sexual Health Needs of Adolescent GirlsThe study analyzed bisexual female adolescents’ perspectives on their access to health information and services provided by health care professionals.

In addition to attitudes and assumptions of healthcare providers and stigma within families, the findings also included limited school-based sexual health education as an important factor contributing to insufficient health care for bisexual adolescent girls.

“The findings from our study are consistent with the unfortunate fact that sexual health care of adolescent girls has largely been absent or focused primarily on birth control tools that do not prevent risk of HIV and other STI – especially if male partners refuse to use condoms,” notes Fisher, Director of Fordham Center for Ethics Education, “and this problem is exacerbated for bisexual girls who may be unprepared for sexual experiences with male partners or who engage in such experiences to avoid social stigma.”

The researchers concluded that practitioners must improve standard sexual health practices involving female youth by integrating nonjudgmental questions regarding bisexuality. According to Fisher, the study “underscores the need for additional training of family physicians and gynecologists to engage in patient centered discussions that help to overcome bisexual invisibility and fears of medical discrimination that are barriers to bisexual girls sexual health.” In a recent article about the study, William Byne, MD, PhD of LGBT Health, adds, “Knowledge of a patient’s sexuality is essential to the biopsychosocial model of clinical practice.”

According to the study, other forms of support of bisexual health among adolescent girls include addressing stigma, increasing sensitivity to privacy and expansion of school-based sexual health education.

Read more about this research in the News Medical Life Sciences article as well as in LGBT Health.

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: October 14, 2016

Health Care and Bioethics

DNA database highlights need for new medical privacy protections
Creation of a national repository of genetic information is seen by some as crucial to reducing medical costs and improving people’s healthcare.

‘Big data’ could mean big problems for people’s healthcare privacy
Public and private insurers are spending millions of dollars on systems that can predict people’s future healthcare needs.

Colorado Wrestles With Ethics Of Aid In Dying As Vote Looms
Colorado man says he would like the option to end his life rather than face a painful death and advocates for Colorado’s Proposition 106  or “death with dignity.”

The NIH needs to review the ethics of research on primates
Congress asked the National Institutes of Health to review “its ethical policies and processes” on nonhuman primate research “to ensure it has appropriate justification for animal research protocols.”

Breast Cancer Death Rates Are Down, But Racial Disparities Persist
Women are less likely to die of breast cancer than they were a decade ago, but not all women are benefiting from that trend.

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Weighty Choices: Ethical Challenges of Addressing Eating Disorders


By: Geena Roth

In certain situations, the moral or ethical decision is obvious, but more often than not, there are a number of complicating factors.  Almost all decisions we make will affect more than just ourselves, forcing us to weigh our own morality against another’s autonomy.  This is particularly true in the case of medical interventions for the sake of another’s health.

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Ethical Implications of Victim Blaming in Cases of Police Brutality


By Emily Jenab, M.A.

Another black man has been shot and, subsequently, another case of character assassination post-death has begun.  Alfred Okwera Olango, 38, was killed as he pulled out “a three inch long vape” and allegedly pointed it at the police of El Cajun, California. The shooting of Olango, an “emotionally disturbed” man who was shot after his sister called 911 for help, has already resulted in justifications of why he deserved to die. Yes, he was holding a vape, but why did it look like a gun? Why was he standing like that? Why did he hold his vaporizer between his hands? Efforts to legitimize another murder, and state implicated violence, will be taken. The cycle repeats and ethical and emotional discussions surrounding these murders, along with the issues embedded in police systems, will continue to be ignored.

Respectability politics are pertinent for people of color, and for marginalized persons, the respectability of their very identity is questioned when they are victims of police misconducts. There is, for our cultural purposes, no “good” black man; if he is unarmed, as Eric Garner was, he still deserves to die and his murderer will not be charged. If he is armed in an open carry state, as Philando Castle was, it is asked why he even had a gun, or what he was doing prior to being pulled over. These men – employed, fathers, worthwhile members of their communities – are reduced to “thugs” in the wake of their deaths. As the horrific deaths play across screens, the feeling of inequality and shame arises in some while others choose to dehumanize and delegitimize the lives of victims. Even one’s commitment to serve his or her country is ignored, like the case of Anthony Hill, a veteran of the US Air forces who was killed in Georgia. There is no shield from pervasive racism, even serving our country, something that is normally highly venerated.

Perhaps “bad cops” and those who support them unwaveringly are engaging in some form of culturally disseminated ‘gaslighting’. The methods behind this tactic, normally perpetrated by domestic abusers, can be used to warp reality for the masses. As Shea Emma Fett notes, “every time an obvious hate crime is portrayed as an isolated case of mental illness, this is gaslighting. The media is saying to you, ‘What you know to be true is not true’.” The media, police departments and their ardent supporters present the same message: a victim of police violence becomes a criminal; a father becomes a criminal, a teenager becomes a man and a boy like Tamir Rice, barely 12, becomes a threat.

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Ethics & Society Newsfeed: September 30, 2016

Technology and Ethics

Tech Giants Team Up To Tackle The Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence
The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, consisting of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and IBM (with Apple in talks to join), weighs in on the missing ethics standards in artificial intelligence.

Fourth Industrial Revolution: With robots, is a life without work one we’d want to live?
“Being gainfully employed is about more than money. We need to consider what will give our lives purpose and connection in the age of automation.”

Should we bring extinct species back from the dead?
New advances in genetic engineering have researchers thinking seriously about de-extinction and which animals we might be able to bring back.

Bioethics and Public Health

Birth of Baby with Three Parents’ DNA Marks Success for Banned Technique
Experts discuss the first successful mitochondrial donation procedure and why the term “three-parent baby” is misleading.

Human Chimera Research’s Huge (and Thorny) Potential
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reversed policy barring funding from research involving human chimeras (mixtures of human cells with animal embryos) which can yield major human development discoveries.

Ethics review identifies top two challenges for genome editing
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics reports a need for urgent ethical scrutiny on new genome editing techniques.

Bioethics in the Election: Where the Candidates Stand
The major presidential candidates’ positions on bioethics-related issues in The Hastings Center’s interactive chart.

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