Tag: marriage

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Incidental White Privilege

STUDENT VOICES

By Jade Reyes

Not every issue of morality that we are faced with is easily discernible— with an easily ascertainable correct action. Many of these issues are nuanced and multifaceted, affecting every person differently and involves a weighing process between imperfect alternatives. One of those issues is race or ethnicity and furthermore the perceptions and assumptions that come hand in hand. Race and racial prejudice are intricately woven into the fabric of American history. While the most prominent struggle between Whites and Blacks is entrenched in the legacy of slavery, another more subtle battle persists. This battle, in my personal experience, blurs the line of ethical and moral behavior in many settings; particularly social and business relations. This struggle is the plight of those who pass for another race– specifically those non-Whites who may be perceived as White, such as myself. This presents a unique moral and ethical challenge: having to toe the line between my ‘by chance’ white privilege and allegiance to my ethnic background.

Often the struggle to which I refer is given the name of colorism, in which light skin tones are preferred and fare better in arbitrary categories when compared to darker skin tones. There is this persistent trend; according to the historical record that having lighter skin regardless of your racial or ethnic origin is a good thing— a door opener if you will. For fair-skinned Latinas like myself, the identifier of white is available to me, but it comes as a powerful oxymoron to define myself as a white-Latino.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Lincoln in the Bardo in the Bardo/ by Russell Teagarden

Russell Teagarden is an Editor of the NYU Literature Arts and Medicine Database and helped lead the Medical Humanities elective at the School of Medicine this past winter. In this blog post, he experiments with creating a text collage from recent reviews of George Saunders novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.

Author’s note:
George Saunders is well known for his inventive and affecting short stories. Lincoln in the Bardo is his first novel, and as described by Charles Baxter in his review in the April 20, 2017 issue of The New York Review of Books, it “doesn’t resemble any of his previous books…nor does it really resemble anyone else’s novel, present or past. In fact, I have never read anything like it.” The story is told by a chorus of spirits or ghosts in a “bardo,” which is a Tibetan limbo of a sort for souls transitioning from death to their next phase. Saunders rarely gives any individual spirit more than 2 or 3 lines of dialog, and he intersperses short snippets from historical textsasome real, some notato provide contextual background. Of particular interest to the medical humanities community will be the focus on the well-trodden subject of grief through this experimental approach. The book has attracted the attention of many serious critics, so many in fact, that they can be assembled into a chorus to derive a review of the book in the book’s format. I have thus taken excerpts from published reviewsamost real, a few notato produce a review that covers how the book is laid out (I), how the bardo works (II), how the story flows (III), and how it’s critically received (IV) as can be told by a chorus of reviewers in a bardo of their own.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Why Addiction Narratives Matter

By Katie Givens Kime
Image courtesy of
Merrimack Repertory Theatre.

“My Higher Power is: Science!” proclaims Sean, a newly recovered alcoholic. “Sean” is the lead character in a comedic play, “The White Chip,” which premiered last year at Merrimac Repertory Theatre outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Written by Sean Daniels, the play dramatizes Daniels’ own near demise from alcoholism, and his experience of recovery. Neuroethics is writ large as the play tells the story of how critically important various addiction etiologies can be for those struggling with alcoholism, or addiction of any sort. In Sean’s case, the etiology is the brain disease model of addiction (BDMA) in a notable combination with the “Higher Power” understanding of 12-step programs, which he credits with saving his life. Behind the curious twists of the play, questions linger: which model of addiction should be presented to those in recovery, when so much conflict exists amongst addiction researchers, clinicians, and recovery care providers? At what point does an effective (potentially life-saving) narrative of addiction etiology supersede the obligation to provide all sides of the controversial matter of addiction modeling?

When Sean “hits bottom,” he has destroyed his career, his marriage, his health, and nearly lost his life while driving drunk. He enters a rehabilitation facility, but struggles with the suggestion that he find a “Higher Power.” Such a practice is reflective of the metaphysical claim central to Alcoholics Anonymous, and every other 12-step program: surrender to a Higher Power of the addict’s understanding, and is perhaps the most significant distinguishing feature separating 12-step methods from other recovery pathways.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Having a Baby at 50

Pop star Janet Jackson, who turns 51 this coming May, gave birth to her first child last week. She and her husband have allegedly been working with a fertility specialist for some time. Many people react with horror, or even disgust, to the idea of this. However, people have had similar emotional reactions to interracial and same-sex marriage. Rather than relying on emotion, I propose the following framework for evaluating reproductive technologies: procreative liberty and procreative responsibility.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Part I: LOVING and Bioethics The Right to Marry

[embedded content]LOVING – Official Trailer from Mill Valley Film Festival on Vimeo.

Courtesy Focus Films
LOVING was the closing night film of the 39th Mill Valley Film Festival. Jeff Nichols is its writer/director. At 38 years old, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Nichols is a master at breaking stereotypes about cultures, especially those below the Mason Dixon Line.  

LOVING is based on the lives of Mildred  and Richard Loving. The portrayals by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in the title roles is an exquisitely intimate, internal portrait. The main characters met young, fell in love in a poor rural neighbor of Virginia where races interacted socially. The love aspect of the story is prominent but the underclass nature of interracial life in the region is equally as strong. In 1958, the couple were forbidden to marry because their state was among many with anti-miscegenation laws.  

Nichols’ LOVING is as much about class— working poor—as it is about race. As long as Mildred and Richard kept within the constraints of the geo-social ‘Bottoms’ the state powers would not care. They weren’t so much jailed because Mildred was Black while Richard White but because they dared want their love and children legitimated. Anti-miscegenation laws stemmed, above all else not from morality but economics—controlling who could own property, historically determined by parentage. The law they violated was a vestige of slavery in their state.

LOVING, the feature length fictional film, evolved from director Nichols’ admiration for a documentary made years before. Nichols LOVING defies the Hollywood Film industries tendency to make heroism only a characteristic of overtly  “charismatic people.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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How LSD Saved One Woman’s Marriage

Ayelet Waldman, a novelist and former federal public defender, recalled the sunny spring morning she rolled out of bed in her Berkeley, Calif., home and experienced the most curious sensation: She felt alive

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Altruism, Ethics, and Markets

Mario Macis, PhD, together with Vikram Chib, PhD and Jeffrey Kahn, PhD, MPH were awarded funding by the JHU Exploration of Practical Ethics program for their project titled “Altruism, Ethics and Markets: A Behavioral and Neuroscientific Experimental Study.” This is an experimental study at the intersection of ethics, economics and neuroscience that addresses controversial economic transactions, such as receiving financial compensation for organ donation. The research team will create an experimental laboratory setting that reproduces several of the features of organ donation, and will study the ethical and economic implications of different institutional regimes of procurement. By measuring neural activity (through fMRI) and behavior, this study will provide insight into how altruism, the desire for economic gain, and the tolerance for physical pain interact to produce outcomes. The study will also consider how those interactions depend on institutional arrangements and will examine the neural mechanisms associated with people’s preferences.

 

Dr. Macis answers our questions.

 

Explain the different scenarios in which participants can “donate” in this experiment.

 

Participants are presented with three scenarios. In the first two scenarios, in exchange for a physical cost (i.e., pain from an electric shock), participants will have the possibility to earn some money for a charity of their choice (“pure altruism”), or for both a charity and themselves (“paid altruism”). In the third scenario, participants are given the opportunity to transfer a certain amount of their endowment as a payment to another person who agrees to take a given shock, and a charity receives a given sum of money (“market”).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Single Women’s Reproductive Rights in China

Qian Liu explains that single women in China who are contemplating pregnancy often care more about the attitudes of their parents towards single mothers, than about the laws on assisted reproduction.

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“I don’t care if the law does or doesn’t grant single women reproductive rights. I can get pregnant on my own and give birth if I really want to. But I don’t think I want to be a single mother by choice even if it is legal. What I care about most are the feelings of my parents and my relationship with them.” This is a version of the most common answer I got from 72 Chinese women when I asked them about the law in China which denies unmarried women the right to reproduce using reproductive technologies.

China, a country with a fertility rate of 1.05 children per woman, prohibits offering assisted reproductive technologies to single women. Also, women who choose to be single mothers by choice in China are penalized by the state. They have to pay a social upbringing fee for violating the country’s family planning policy. While lawyers and international media blame these laws for creating barriers to childbearing by single women in China, I argue that these laws are by no means the most significant factors keeping China’s single women from becoming single parents.

Last month, three Chinese NGOs involved in LGBT and gender issues released a report titled “Single Women’s Reproductive Rights – A Research Report on Policy and Lived Experience.” The report suggests that there is a close linkage between unmarried mothers’ miserable experiences and the law’s restrictions on childbearing out of wedlock.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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The complications and practicalities of cryopreservation

Someday we might get the technique right    

The publicity surrounding the cryopreservation of the body of a 14-year-old British JS after her death from cancer has prompted more commentary.

Heather Conway, of Queen’s University Belfast, ruminated on the legal complications arising from reanimation after decades or even centuries on ice.

From a legal perspective, the problems are obvious – starting with the fact that the person has already been declared legally dead. How would, how could, the law reinstate them? Could that person reclaim assets that they owned in life, but had passed to family members on death? Could inheritance laws be undone? And if the person’s spouse is still alive but has now remarried, would that marriage still be valid when the former partner returns from the dead? Even before this happens, what is the status of the corpse during its time in the deep freeze: does it have any legal rights? How long should a frozen corpse be stored, and would the individual’s family have the right to thaw or destroy the corpse without reanimating it?

And Alexandra Stolzing, a lecturer in regenerative medicine, at Loughborough University, in the UK, points out that it is still impossible to cryopreserve brains successfully. Besides she points out,

But there’s another huge hurdle for cryonics: to not only repair the damage incurred due to the freezing process but also to reverse the damage that led to death – and in such a manner that the individual resumes conscious existence.

From a purely technical point of view, this added complication might be worth avoiding.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Is someone reanimated from cryogenic freezing legally dead or alive? And other problems

The idea that your dying or recently deceased body could be frozen in the hope that some future technology could revive you is no longer science fiction. It is now something people will pay handsomely for – as the recent court ruling that allowed a 14-year-old British girl with terminal cancer to have her remains cryogenically frozen and stored indefinitely in a US clinic has shown. While the possibility that even future medical technology could revive anyone from death is moot, in the here and now the practice of cryopreservation raises all sorts of novel legal issues.

Freezing a corpse keeps its physical structure intact – and there have been stories of grieving relatives preserving a loved one’s remains in this way. Long-term cold storage of the dead in purpose-built refrigeration facilities is permissible, although DIY preservation in a freezer at home is not such a good idea and inevitably prone to electrical or technical failure, as was the case for a frozen French doctor and his wife who unexpectedly thawed.

Cryonics takes this to a whole new level, seeing freezing as an interim solution. A speculative technology, it uses extremely cold temperatures of –196°C to preserve human remains until a medical cure is found for whatever caused death in the first place. At this point, so the theory goes, the corpse can be thawed and reanimated. Sometimes the whole body is frozen, or sometimes just the person’s head – with the intention of reconstructing the individual from their brain. H

However, the science itself is at least suspect.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.