Tag: mental health services

Bioethics News

What Social Workers Need to Know about Surrogacy

December 15, 2016

(The Guardian) – The fact is that social care agencies can and do get drawn in. They may get cases referred during the surrogate’s pregnancy because of concerns about her exploitation or the arrangements for the child. They may become involved if family difficulties later develop – in either the “new” family or the surrogate’s own family, or if parents separate. They may see any of the parties via mental health services. Care workers must be well informed if they are to recognise the human rights and social work principles that need to be respected in order to practise safely and ethically.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

In The Journals – November by Christine Sargent

Hello trusty readers. Check out November’s haul for “In The Journals,” and be sure to check out the special issue of Science, Technology, and Human Values: Feminist Postcolonial Technosciences.

 

American Ethnologist:

Memory, body, and the online researcher: Following Russian street demonstrations via social media (open access)

Patty A. Gray

The Moscow street demonstrations of 2011–12 were the largest public gatherings in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They were also the largest-ever gathering of Russians on social media. While using the Internet to follow such large-scale social movements remotely, researchers experience social media as a context in which anthropology happens. They may think about “being there” in new ways that shift their focus to their own processes of memory making and sense of bodily presence. Experiencing and remembering social media in the body challenges the distinctions we might otherwise make between virtual and physical encounters.

Royal pharmaceuticals: Bioprospecting, rights, and traditional authority in South Africa

Christopher Morris

The translation of international biogenetic resource rights to a former apartheid homeland is fostering business partnerships between South African traditional leaders and multinational pharmaceutical companies. In the case of one contentious resource, these partnerships are entrenching, and in some instances expanding, apartheid-associated boundaries and configurations of power. The state and corporate task of producing communities amenable to biodiversity commercialization and conservation is entangled with segregationist laws and spatial planning. Rather than exclusion and the closure of ethnic boundaries, resource rights in this context foreground forced enrollment and the expansion of indigenous group-membership as modes of capitalist accumulation in an extractive economy.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

"American Horror Story" in Real Life: Understanding Racialized Views of Mental Illness and Stigma

By Sunidhi Ramesh
Racial and ethnic discrimination has taken various forms in the
United States since its formation as a nation. The sign in the image
reads: “Deport all Iranians. Get the hell out of my country.”
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
From 245 years of slavery to indirect racism in police sanctioning and force, minority belittlement has remained rampant in American society (1). There is no doubt that this history has left minorities in the United States with a differential understanding of what it means to be American and, more importantly, what it means to be an individual in a larger humankind.

Generally, our day-to-day experiences shape the values, beliefs, and attitudes that allow us to navigate the real world (2). And so, with regards to minorities, consistent exposure to these subjective experiences (of belittlement and discrimination, for example) can begin to shape subjective perceptions that, in turn, can mold larger perspectives and viewpoints.

Last spring, I conducted a project for a class to address the reception (3) of white and non-white, or persons of color (POC), students to part of an episode from American Horror Story: Freak Show. The video I asked them to watch portrays a mentally incapacitated woman, Pepper, who is wrongfully framed for the murder of her sister’s child. The character’s blatant scapegoating is shocking not only for the lack of humanity it portrays but also for the reality of being a human being in society while not being viewed as human.
Although the episode remains to be somewhat of an exaggeration, the opinions of the interview respondents in my project ultimately suggested that there exists a racial basis of perceiving the mental disabilities of Pepper—a racial basis that may indeed be deeply rooted in the racial history of the United States.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals — September 2016, part II by Aaron Seaman

And, now, part two of September’s journal posting! (Part one is here.)

Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“I Hope I Get Movie-star Teeth”: Doing the Exceptional Normal in Orthodontic Practice for Young People

Anette Wickström

Orthodontics offer young people the chance to improve their bite and adjust their appearances. The most common reasons for orthodontic treatment concern general dentists’, parents’ or children’s dissatisfaction with the esthetics of the bite. My aim is to analyze how esthetic norms are used during three activities preceding possible treatment with fixed appliances. The evaluation indexes signal definitiveness and are the essential grounds for decision-making. In parallel, practitioners and patients refer to self-perceived satisfaction with appearances. Visualizations of divergences and the improved future bite become part of an interactive process that upholds what I conceptualize as “the exceptional normal.” Insights into this process contribute to a better understanding of how medical practices intended to measure and safeguard children’s and young people’s health at the same time mobilize patients to look and feel better. The article is based on an ethnographic study at two orthodontic clinics.

Huichol Migrant Laborers and Pesticides: Structural Violence and Cultural Confounders (open access)

Jennie Gamlin

Every year, around two thousand Huichol families migrate from their homelands in the highlands of northwestern Mexico to the coastal region of Nayarit State, where they are employed on small plantations to pick and thread tobacco leaves. During their four-month stay, they live, work, eat, and sleep in the open air next to the tobacco fields, exposing themselves to an unknown cocktail of pesticides all day, every day.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Why Is Getting Healthcare Coverage So Hard?


For a great nation like the United States, it is not only
embarrassing, but also morally reprehensible that there are still millions of
American citizens who in principle could have healthcare coverage but are being
denied that benefit for purely political reasons. Ideologically driven
governors in Red states would rather defy the efforts of President Obama to
expand healthcare coverage for all their citizens than provide this most basic
human service to their citizens. I draw this conclusion simply because their
alleged reason for refusing to expand Medicaid—that expanded coverage will be
unaffordable—is simply not true. With Medicaid expansion, the federal
government will significantly underwrite most of the costs and without states
are on their own in the most inefficient healthcare system possible—they get no
access to basic primary care but if they get acutely sick they can show up at
an ER and utilize the system at time where cost is exorbitant and goals are
limited. It is an abomination how healthcare has been a political football for
decades while people with medical needs are allowed to suffer and die.


 


But it is not just patients without healthcare coverage who
lack access to medical care—it is also millions of patients with coverage. Medicaid
currently covers over 70 million Americans, yet many of these patients are not
able to find a physician who will accept them. In a 2011
national
survey
of physicians, 31% were unwilling to accept Medicaid patients; in
certain states the rates are much higher—for example, in New Jersey only 40% of
physicians accepted Medicaid patients.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

The “Outing” of Sperm Donor 9623

Sperm banks continue to expand their search and selection criteria to include clinically ambiguous and frankly irrelevant donor information (favorite pets, astrological sign, hobbies). Yet their failures to verify the self-reported personal and medical histories of donors have recently prompted a set of legal complaints aimed at combating fertility clinic negligence in the unregulated assisted reproduction industry in the U.S.

Several families, including Angela Collins and Beth Hanson from Canada, have recently brought a lawsuit against one Georgia-based clinic, Xytex, and one particular donor. The legal questions are themselves significant, but the case also raises important considerations around disability, class, and genetic determinism.

Xytex, along with its distributor in Ontario, informed Collins and Hanson that Sperm Donor 9623 had an IQ of 160 and was pursuing a PhD in neuroscience, and had no history of physical or mental illness apart from his father’s colorblindness. The clinic did not verify this information, but relied on what Sperm Donor 9623 had reported. The parents, now raising their young son, were understandably shocked upon learning that his donor had in fact spent time in jail and received multiple diagnoses of mental illness.

Parents’ anger, and their concern about their families’ future, should of course be recognized and respected.  But so should the complicated set of issues that this case raises. How do we assess it while resisting genetic determinism, challenging biological explanations for class-based inequalities, and critiquing a purely medical understanding of disability? How do we negotiate the differences between human variation and costly, painful, mental illness?

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.

Bioethics Blogs

APHA Ethics Section Interview with Dr. Celia B. Fisher on Conversion Therapy Report

The following is an interview with the American Public Health Association’s Ethics Section with Fordham University Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher who served as an advisor for a White House panel on conversion therapy.

In April of this year, President Barack Obama announced his support for state efforts to pass Leelah’s laws. Such laws seek to ban conversion therapy, a practice which claims to change individuals with LGBTQ identities to a heterosexual identity and is named for an American transgender girl who committed suicide after undergoing conversion therapy. Celia B. Fisher is the Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics Education at Fordham University and an Ethics Section member. She served as an advisor for a White House report released last fall, Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth.

She joins us this month for a Q & A, sharing her insights into one area of contemporary public health ethics in practice:

Q: What are the highlights Ethics Section members should know about the report Ending Conversion Therapy?

A: The report was commissioned by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) with the assistance of the American Psychological Association (APA) under the auspices of White House interest. The goal of the SAMHSA-APA committee was to investigate the empirical case supporting, and not supporting, the use of conversion therapy. And so, a committee was brought together, the majority of members were researchers in the field of child development, pediatric physicians and mental health practitioners, or those who study gender identity formation.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals May 2016 Part I by Melanie Boeckmann

Following Anna’s post on current special issues, here are abstracts from this month’s journal outputs.

American Ethnologist

Skill and masculinity in Olympic weightlifting: Training cues and cultivated craziness in Georgia

Perry Sherouse

At the Georgian Weightlifting Federation in Tbilisi, Georgia, a mainstay of coaching is the training cue, a shouted word or phrase that coaches use to prompt weightlifters to perform in a certain psychological, physical, or technical way. In this practice, coaches cultivate and naturalize dimensions of physiology and psychology, aligning masculinity with animality, lack of restraint, and emotional surfeit, and femininity with gracefulness, control, and good technique. Although Olympic weightlifting remains stereotypically hypermasculine, coaches compliment female weightlifters’ technique as superior to men’s and train their athletes to integrate masculine “nature” and feminine “culture” in the expression of physical strength. In doing so, coaches do not instill fully formed subjectivities but manage embodied forms, using exclamatory cues to disaggregate the athlete into action, affect, and anatomy. 

“I am a radioactive mutant”: Emergent biological subjectivities at Kazakhstan’s Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site

Magdalena E. Stawskowski

The Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in Kazakhstan was conceived as an experimental landscape where science, technology, Soviet Cold War militarism, and human biology intersected. As of 2015, thousands of people continue to live in rural communities in the immediate vicinity of this polluted landscape. Lacking good economic options, many of them claim to be “mutants” adapted to radiation, while outsiders see them as genetically tainted. In such a setting, how do post-Soviet social, political, and economic transformations operate with radioactivity to co-constitute a “mutant” subjectivity?

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Legislation to End Conversion Therapy Introduced in the Senate

Following a White House report released in October condemning the use of conversion therapy, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have introduced legislation to end the harmful practice.

The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act would empower the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on so-called “conversion therapy” that falsely claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a press release from Senator Booker’s office.

“This so-called therapy is harmful, especially to children,” said Booker, who last year introduced a Senate Resolution condemning the use of conversion therapy. “Our legislation will remove any question that the FTC and State Attorneys General have the tools they need to classify conversion therapy as what it is – fraud – and ban its use. Conversion therapy is a discredited, harmful practice that has been rejected by countless medical and mental health organizations for years. It has no place in our society.”

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher served on the expert consensus panel whose recommendations form the basis of October’s report.

The expert panel and report was commissioned following  White House support for a bill that bans all therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill known as “Leelah’s Law” was developed following the December 2014 suicide of Leelah Alcorn – a 17-year-old transgender woman, after her parents made her attend conversion therapy.

The panel was convened by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) earlier this year, and included prominent figures in LGBT human rights, policy, research, treatment, and advocacy, including Fisher.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals — March 2016, Part II by Anna Zogas

Here is the second half of our March roundup of journal articles. There are also two Special Issues out this month that may be of interest, including the current Medical Anthropology Quarterly, and their contents are posted here.

American Anthropologist 

Love and Resurrection: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia
Anya Bernstein

In this article, I discuss two “crimes of compassion”—one a mercy killing and the other what I refer to as a “mercy resurrection”—as key illustrations of the changing landscape of necropolitical governmentality in Russia some 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Such practices present unanticipated challenges to the state control of death, producing irregular yet ultimately normative narratives of what counts as pathological, as life and death, and as the meaning of suffering, love, and compassion. I argue that these cases ultimately present two sides of the same coin, evincing a politics of life that, intentionally or not, defies the power of the state over death and its monopoly position as the purveyor of death and immortality. They also suggest alternative practices of caregiving to the dead and dying. In doing all this, they enter a legally ambiguous zone between violence and compassion, martyrdom and savagery, madness and mercy.

“We Are All Carrying Someone Else’s Child!”: Relatedness and Relationships in Third-Party Reproduction
Zsuzsa Berend

In this article, I explore surrogates’ rich, diverse, and collective negotiations of relatedness and relationships on the largest U.S. surrogacy support website. Surrogates reconfigure existing kinship understandings and maintain that intent and love are firmer bases of parenthood than biogenetic connection.

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.