Tag: religious groups

Bioethics News

The Fight to Legalize a Machine that Melts Flesh from Bone

March 10, 2017

(Wired) – Bio-Response, based in Danville, Indiana, specializes in building machines for liquid cremation, a fast, environmentally-friendly, and controversial method for disposing of the deceased. Only a handful of states have legalized the practice. The latest battle is taking place in Nevada, where yesterday the state’s legislature held a hearing to discuss AB205, a bill that would legalize the chemical dissolution of the dead. Liquid cremation’s biggest opponents are typically religious groups, who believe uninhabited corporeal vessels ought not be liquefied and sent spiraling down a drain. Which is a fair, if oversimplified interpretation, of how this process actually works.

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 News

Transgender Man: Catholic Hospital Denied My Hysterectomy

January 5, 2017

(STAT News) – A transgender man sued a Roman Catholic hospital Thursday, saying it cited religion in refusing to allow his surgeon to perform a hysterectomy as part of his sex transition. Jionni Conforti’s sex and gender discrimination lawsuit comes as new regulations hailed as groundbreaking anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals are under legal attack from religious groups.

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

Last Days of the ACA

by Craig M. Klugman, Ph.D.

Politicians are notorious for making campaign promises and then not carrying them out. With the beginning of the 115th Congress, the GOP has doubled-down on its promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). How that repeal will happen and what will replace it remains unknown. Both Congress and the courts are lining up court cases and rules that will set up their destruction of this law that has extended health care insurance to 20 million people in the U.S. Starting January 1, several new provisions were supposed to go into effect including expanding protected class status to include those who identify as transgender and those who had receive abortions, and permitting states to apply for exemptions to design alternative programs.

Three events in the last week show the direction in which we are heading:

  1. A new rule for the 115th Congress says that the House cannot consider a bill that dramatically increases the cost of government spending over a 10 year period. But that rule contains an exception for the ACA. The Congressional Budget Office suggests that repealing the ACA would increase the federal deficit by $353 billion in the next ten years. Under the new rule, any law that repeals the ACA should not be considered, except for the exception built in to undo that law. If this seems crazy, realized that the day after agreeing to close the independent Congressional ethics office, the GOP reversed stance, based on a tweet from their party
  2. On December 31, 2016, Judge Reed O’Connor of the US District Court for Northern Texas issued a national injunction against the DHHS from enforcing an ACA nondiscrimination rule.

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

A eulogy for the UK Donation Ethics Committee

Guest Post: David Shaw

Paper: The Untimely Death of the UK Donation Ethics Committee

Most people I know want to donate their organs after they die. Why wouldn’t they? If you have to die, you might as well do your best to save several other lives once you’re gone. But organ donation is a more ethically complex topic than many people realise. From Spring 2014 until April this year I was a member of the UK Donation Ethics Committee (UKDEC), which advised NHS Blood and Transplant and the various UK health departments on the ethics of organ donation and transplantation. The committee included doctors, lawyers, nurses, ethicists like me, and ‘lay’ members – ordinary members of the public. In my JME article, I discuss the committee’s work and why it came to an end.

UKDEC dealt with a wide variety of topics. We advised the Welsh Government on the ethical implications of a switch to ‘deemed consent’ to organ donation in Wales, undertook an analysis of the role of the family in donation, and engaged with ethnic minorities and religious groups to facilitate discourse about donation. Most of all, our work was important because we provided practical ethical guidance to healthcare professionals who were often unsure about the ethics and sometimes the legality of new developments in organ donation. Every year new technologies emerge that can enable donation where it was previously impossible, or which can improve the viability of donated organs. Sometimes doctors would approach UKDEC for our advice on their protocols that wished to make use of these new innovations.

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 News

Poland Starts Work on Total Abortion Ban Amid Cultural Clash

September 23, 2016

(Bloomberg) – Religious groups loosely supported by the ruling Law & Justice party have proposed the bill to tighten what’s already one of the European Union’s most-restrictive regulations. While the current law limits abortions to pregnancies stemming from rape or incest, and cases where the mother or fetus faces serious health risk, they want a total ban that would put the Roman Catholic country of 38 million in a group of eight states that includes El Salvador, Guatemala and the Vatican.

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 News

Comprehensive and thorough study of the relationship between attendance at religious services and reduction in mortality

The authors concluded consider that religiousness and spirituality are undervalued in relation to morbidity and mortality, so physicians should take this into account in their patients

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”.

Some religious groups say that within a holistic concept of the human person, the unity of body, mind and spirit can affect health, while others go even further by stating that religious practice can influence individual behaviour by modifying its development. However, with respect to mortality and morbidity, this does not appear to be scientifically demonstrated as yet.

Thus, in an article published in 2011 (Explore 7; 234-238, 2011) that analysed meta-analyses performed between 1994 and 2009, evaluating the possible relationship between attendance at religious services and mortality, the authors concluded that in the group who attended religious services, mortality was reduced by 18% compared to non-attendees.

However, some authors question the validity of these studies, arguing that the evidence is often weak due to the poor study methodology and design, so causality between religiousness and decreased mortality cannot be claimed.

In relation to this, last 16 May, a study was published (JAMA 176; 777-785, 2016) that looked at this topic in more depth, trying to avoid some of the shortcomings of previous studies, especially the fact of not having taken into account certain confounding factors.

Data from the study in question

In order to conduct the study, the authors used data from the “Nurses’ Health Study”, which included a large cohort of North American women who attended or did not attend religious services, carefully assessing the so-called confounding factors, such as diet, lifestyle, medical history and race, as well as carrying out long-term follow-up.

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 News

Prognosis: Complicated

Prognosis: Complicated

August 29, 2016

(U.S. News & World Report) – Debates over religious liberty are as old as the republic, but recent policies have reignited the public’s interest in them. Whether it’s President Barack Obama’s signature health care law or an expansion of LGBT rights, groups on the right have taken notice and are fighting back against policies they say are infringing on their right to practice religion. The latest example came this week from states and religious groups who claim the Obama administration’s rule against discrimination of transgender patients would obligate them to perform gender reassignment surgeries on children. The plaintiffs say the rule infringes on their medical judgment and religious beliefs, while proponents have pointed out that it does not, in fact, require specific procedures at all.

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 News

Where Major Religious Groups Stand on Abortion

June 22, 2016

(Pew Research Center) – Abortion is still a difficult, contentious and even unresolved issue for some religious groups. The United Methodist Church provides one example of a religious group whose stand on abortion is not entirely clear. At its quadrennial convention, held in May, church delegates voted to repeal a 40-year-old resolution supporting the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and approved another resolution ending the church’s membership in a pro-abortion rights advocacy group. However, the church’s Book of Discipline (which lays out the denomination’s law and doctrine) stresses that abortion should be, in some cases, legally available.

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

Sadeq Rahimi’s Meaning, Madness and Political Subjectivity: A Study of Schizophrenia in Turkey by Ayşecan Terzioğlu

Meaning, Madness and Political Subjectivity: A Study of Schizophrenia in Turkey

By Sadeq Rahimi

Routledge, 2015, 248 pages

This book is issued by “The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis” series, which aims at enhancing the dialogues between social scientists and practitioners, especially in the fields of trauma, attachment relationships in the family, in social settings, and with professionals. Rahimi manages to cover all these issues in detail, analyzing the cases of three schizophrenia patients in Turkey and relating these to historical and social dynamics, ideological debates, and clashes within the country. This rather ambitious project is based on interviews with the patients, their family members and their clinicians in three hospitals in Istanbul. The author is mainly interested in how the patients interpret their own illness experiences. In addition, Rahimi conducted ethnographic research in order to produce “thick cultural analyses” (2), which provides the necessary background information for the analysis of each patient’s case.

Rahimi defines schizophrenia as “one of the most idiosyncratic modalities of subjective experience” and contends that it consists of a “highly private experience” that can nevertheless be associated with the larger political, cultural and historical dynamics (1). Rahimi’s understanding of political subjectivity through the interaction of meaning and power is the key in his analysis of the patients’ narratives, especially in terms of their main themes’ connections to common political and cultural discourses. In his evaluations of “systems of meaning”, Rahimi justifies “certain associations of signifiers” or “certain patterns of associations of concepts” as “more accurate or more truth bearing, and thus more legitimate or more desirable than the others”, rather than firmly establishing and singling out particular associations.

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 News

Big fallout from Little Sisters case

Commentators have clashed over the US Supreme Court’s decision not rule on a case involving the forced provision of contraceptives by Catholic order Little Sisters of the Poor.

On May 16 SCOTUS announced, in a unanimous decision, that it would not decide the case on its merits but instead sent the case back down to the lower courts for opposing parties to work out a compromise. The court said that in the course of litigation both parties had clarified their position and that they should be able to “arrive at an approach”.

Supporters of the plaintiffs saw the decision as a victory.

Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal suggested that the case represented a direct attack on religious groups in society:

“In short, the Obama administration’s goal was not just getting contraceptives to women. It was also to do so in a way designed to force religious groups such as the Little Sisters to cry “uncle.””

But advocates of the government’s contraceptive mandate stridently criticised the decision. New York Times journalist Linda Greenhouse exhorted the federal government to continue to the fight against the plaintiffs: 

“…it’s time for the administration and its supporters to recapture the narrative and make clear to a confused public that this is not a case about nuns. It’s a case about women who should not, by reason of their particular employment, have to forfeit the right to comprehensive health care that the law makes available to other women in the work force. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but an urgent task.”

Writing in Harvard’s Petrie-Flom Center blog, Greg Lipper – Senior Litigation Counsel Americans United for the Separation of Church and State – said that “the one-track focus on the Little Sisters overlooks the tens of thousands of women affected by these cases and who risk losing the contraceptive coverage to which they’re entitled by law.” 

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.