Category Archives: Bioethics

Oh, NO! ANOTHER Ethics Story That I Don’t Understand At All! EVERYTHING IS SEEMINGLY SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL!

Emory University Hospital in Georgia had scheduled kidney transplant surgery for a 2-year-old boy to take place on October 3. The organ donor, however, the boy’s father, Anthony Dickerson, violated his parole. Hospital administrators then postponed the surgery until Dickerson could comply with parole requirements for an additional three months.

The boy’s mother, Carmella Burgess, received a letter from the hospital that said Dickerson would be re-evaluated as a donor in January after it receives documentation of his success.

What warped reasoning is going into this decision? The boy’s health care needs are the same. The kidney being donated is the same. The father is still a willing donor. Why would the hospital care whether Dickerson had violated parole or not? Why would anything Dickerson did change the hospital’s medical duty to his son, or warrant postponing life and death surgery? So the father was discovered eating puppies. So he was found to be a convert to Isis. So he is caught saying nice things about Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump or Satan. In fact, Dickerson violated parole in September and was charged with possession of a gun. So what?

“They’re making this about dad,” Burgess told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s not about dad. It’s about our son.”

That seems to be an accurate analysis.

If anyone can explain how this can possibly be ethical conduct by the hospital, please do.

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Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/26/17

Good Morning!

(My Dad was from Kentucky. He couldn’t stand Tom T. Hall…or Mitch McConnell)

1. I have been working on a legal ethics seminar for lawyers who represent seniors (I was told that the politically correct term among the groups was “older clients.” Older than what?) It is one of those areas of the law in which the usual ethics rules don’t work very well, or sometimes not at all. This anomaly requires a lawyer practicing in the field to be ready to embrace the Ethics Incompleteness Principle: to violate the letter of the professional ethics rules in the best interests of the client. For example, what does a lawyer do whose aging client lives with a son or daughter, and the lawyers sees signs of elder abuse? When the lawyer asks the client, he makes various excuses for his caretakers, and finally says that while he has been abused, it’s not serious and will only get worse if the lawyer says or does anything in response to it. Now what? The fact of the abuse, under the usual construction of the rules, is a confidence controlled by the client.

The emerging consensus is that the lawyer can ethically use the exception to confidentiality that allows an attorney to reveal a client confidence to prevent death or serious bodily injury to a “third party,” the client becoming “the third party” for his own protection.

2. A federal lawsuit was filed last week alleging that a Tennessee judge and sheriff violated inmates’ constitutional rights by instituting a program offering reduced jail time for criminals who agree to undergo vasectomies or get contraceptive implants. The suit claims the White County program amounted to “eugenics with a twist.” I don’t think it’s much of a twist; I’d say it’s eugenics, straight up. I’d assume CBS will love it: after all, eliminating criminal types is even better than eradicating Down Syndrome babies. Isn’t it?

3. Lots of people sent me this horrible story, about the cheerleader camp at a Denver area high school where young girls were being forced to do splits (it hurts me even thinking about doing splits) , with the camp’s instructor shown in a leaked video pushing down on the shoulders of a 13-year-old as she screamed for him to stop.

Boy, there is a lot of child abuse out there.

The Denver Board of Education said in a statement: “As the elected representatives for Denver Public Schools — and as the moms, dads and family members of D.P.S. students ourselves — we are deeply disturbed by the videos of cheer practices at East High School that came to our attention yesterday.”

Gee, it’s good to know that you are all disturbed that children are being tortured at schools that you are supposed to be overseeing.. This must mean you are competently doing your jobs. No, actually it doesn’t

“As the investigation continues,’’ it states, “our focus must be entirely on our students, families and educators.”

The school superintendent also said: “We have sent notification to our athletic directors emphasizing that D.P.S. does not allow the use of ‘forced splits’ or any other activity that puts a student’s physical or mental health at risk, or in which a student is forced to perform an exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop.”

An Ethics Alarms note to that school system: Any athletic directors who have to be reminded that abusing children in their care, and continuing to make them perform painful acts after they have said that they don’t want to, is not something they should be doing shouldn’t be employed in the first place. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-up: 8/17/17

Good Morning!

1. I got back late last night from my pilgrimage to say thanks to the Impossible Dream team, and now I’m on my way out to teach an ethics seminar for D.C. government attorneys. I haven’t caught up with the comments yet; I’m sorry. Things should be back to normal hear by this afternoon. Here are the surviving members of that 1967 Red Sox team that changed my life:

Incredibly, the Red Sox barely promoted the event, and had no memorabilia, not even a T-shirt, available at the souvenir stands. I asked one of the sales people, who said the team had given them nothing, figuring that the typical fan was too young to remember or care.

And people wonder why I object to tearing down statues…

2. …which the unethical Mayor of Baltimore ordered to be done yesterday in the dead of night. From the Times:

It was “in the best interest of my city,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday, as she explained why she ordered Confederate monuments removed under the cover of darkness, days after violence broke out during a rally against the removal of a similar monument in neighboring Virginia.

“I said with the climate of this nation,” Ms. Pugh said later, “that I think it’s very important that we move quickly and quietly.”

With no immediate public notice, no fund-raising, and no plan for a permanent location for the monuments once they had been excised — all things city officials once believed they would need — the mayor watched in the wee hours on Wednesday as contractors with cranes protected by a contingent of police officers lifted the monuments from their pedestals and rolled them away on flatbed trucks…

David Goldfield, a professor of history who studies Confederate symbols at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said the removal of the monuments in Baltimore was likely to be part of a “rolling cascade” of cities and states ridding themselves of, or at least relocating, similar statues.

”You’re going to see another wave of these removals.” Mr. Goldfield said. “The fact that it’s done fairly expeditiously is not surprising because if you do it quickly the opposition can’t build up, and the confrontations that we’ve had, not only in Charlottesville but elsewhere, will not materialize.”

By all means, move quickly and without notice or due process so lawful protests and expressions of public opinion “can’t build up.” “It was in the best interests” is such a versatile rationalization for unilateral government action.

Democracies don’t undertake controversial actions in the night. Dictatorships do. Pugh and others nascent fascist of the left are as responsible for “the climate of this nation” as much or more than anyone else, and now want to exploit the dangers of that climate to stifle dissent.

Perfect. Continue reading

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Comment of the Day: “From The Law vs. Ethics File: The Discriminatory Charlotte Pride Parade”

How to construct public policy regarding trans individuals is an increasingly varied and controversial ethics controversy (with another Ethics Alarms post on the topic in progress). This another whiplash ethics area where events and attitudes are moving and evolving too fast for some reasonable people to process. I remember as a child reading a vintage Readers Digest article about Christine Jorgensen and having my father answer my questions about her by saying, “He’s a freak.” The dialogue on the related issues here at Ethics Alarms is always  enlightening, in part because we have the benefit of some very well-informed authorities on the topic.

Pennagain added this impressive post to the latest round in the debate, in response to another commenter’s opinion. Here is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on the post, “From The Law vs. Ethics File: The Discriminatory Charlotte Pride Parade”:

As far as I could find, the conclusion of Scientific American’s January 2016 article, “Is There Something Unique About the Transgender Brain,” speaks to the results of the all the legitimate studies that have been done to date: . . . given the variety of transgender people and the variation in the brains of men and women generally, it will be a long time, if ever, before a doctor can do a brain scan on a child and say, “Yes, this child is trans.”

So far,  so good. Nothing is proven either way as far as brain differentiation is concerned. But your personal observations are not at that level of science; they are your unsupported (and insupportable) opinions. The problem with that kind of observation is that it can easily be turned on its head, as with “Direct observations by my family, from many teachers and administrators: kids who want attention (for various reasons) tend to come out as trans.”

It’s rather: “Kids who are trans or gay tend to stand out and naturally attract attention.” What’s more, those who observe with knowledge can tell the difference easily.

What’s happening here is a common confusion between sexual orientation and gender identity. As simply as I can put it:

“Gay,” “Lesbian” and “Bisexual” refer to sexual orientation, in other words – who you are attracted to, namely, people of the same gender.

“Transgender” is a gender Identity: how you identify yourself in terms of maleness or femaleness. For a transgender person, the gender identity is one that is different from your biological sex. It can, in fact, have nothing whatsoever to do with whom you are attracted to.

Part of the confusion is that being queer (the word being back in vogue, stuck onto the LGBT as Q) designates one whose gender is known as fluid. In other words, the “stand outs” on the playground and even throughout their lives are those whose behavior is often that of the “opposite” gender. This occurs for two reasons: one is to be born with characteristics of another norm, the other is acquired as a copycat of society in general. What you don’t see,are those boys and girls, men and women, who are identical — naturally, biologically — with “straight” males or females… who can and do “pass”, as it were. Whether they look to you to be butch or femme, they are at home with their penis or vagina.

To get back to the question ‘What is the Difference between Gay and Transgender?’ – one has to do with sexual orientation (who you are attracted to sexually) and the other has to do with gender identity (who you feel yourself to be). Got it?

You are correct in thinking that transgender people, especially when in the (often difficult and painful) process of what is called coming out, used to identify as “gay,” because it was as close as they could come. But they had and have that one differentiation: the conviction and discomfort of being in the wrong gendered body. When a transgender person completes transition, he or she may turn out to have a straight orientation. Or not.

As far as your after finding that society no longer views them as special, have settled back into traditional sexuality goes, you display once again a conventional imagination in an attempt to dismiss both the reality of sexual orientation or gender identity and the complexity and difficulty of coming out against a society — a society that includes your own loved and needed ones — that hates, despises and rejects you. If you really believe this is an attention-getting pose, you are … ill-informed and unable to identify much less re-form your prejudices.

In short ‘What is the Difference between Gay and Transgender?”: One has to do with sexual orientation (who you are attracted to sexually) and the other has to do with gender identity (who you feel yourself to be). Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day (2): “Observations On Britain’s Charlie Gard Ethics Fiasco”

This is the second outstanding comment on the Charlie Gard post, and it boldly ventures into the ethics jungle of euthanasia. The discussion must go there, for if society has limited resources, and we have more limited resources than Paul Krugman and Bernie Sanders admit, then when people use up their allotted portion, they either have to die or someone else has to pick up the bill. The recent surge in popularity for single-payer health care is due in part to the old saw about how soldiers think when going into battle. It’s everyone else who’s at risk, not you. Or as my dad liked to put it, “Gee, I’m going to miss those other guys!”

Increasingly, as I get older and think about how different my family’s life would be if both Mom and Dad hadn’t contrived to pop off quickly after relatively short illnesses and minimal hospitalization, I see the same consideration in planning for my loved ones. I don’t want to waste my son’s inheritance to pay for the last and worst years of my life; indeed, I think it would be unconscionable to do so. However, that needs to be my choice, not the Death Panel’s.

Here is Mrs Q’s Comment Of The Day on the post,  “Observations On Britain’s Charlie Gard Ethics Fiasco”:

When medical care is socialized, nihilism & scientism combine to control those who can be useful to the state & those who need to be eliminated from it.

Dutch lawmakers are looking at a Completed Life Bill that would allow those 75+ in age to choose medical euthanasia. The lawmaker pushing the bill, Alexander Pechtold, said it would allow the Netherlands to…

“take the next step for our civilization.”

And what step is that exactly?

The Gard case highlights the dark workings of Marxism for what it is by defining life in terms of how much of a burden it supposedly is to others. That the “greater good” is better served when certain people s lives are considered “complete.”

Baby Gard, as Jack noted, cannot continue to be a financial burden in the context of socialized medicine because in such a paradigm, there are not enough resources to support all of those represented by it. Remember socialism ALWAYS promises more than it can ever deliver and always spends more than it has.

I love it when people tell me how great the health care in France is, while many there complain the immigrants are a drain on the system because they have not put their money into it for years. Or Canada, where our friends cannot afford private insurance and go without certain medications & treatments because they’re not covered by state. Or Europe, where rates of Downs Syndrome are jarringly low because doctors have advocated so severely for abortion of these unborn, that in some countries it has literally been years since such a child has been born. Continue reading

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Observations On Britain’s Charlie Gard Ethics Fiasco

A recipient of Great Britain’s national health care, infant Charlie Gard was born with  a rare genetic condition resulting in what is probably irreversable brain damage.  He cannot move his arms or legs, eat or even breathe without a ventilator.

After 10 months of being kept alive, Charlie’s caretakers, the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, announced that it was time for Charlie to die. Chris Gard and Connie Yates, Charlie’s parents, wanted to take him to the United States to try an experimental treatment available here. The doctors at the hospital refused to allow them to take the child, and vetoed their decision, even though the parents had received sufficient funds from donations to pay for the effort.  In  the resulting lawsuit, British courts sided with the hospital. The parents then brought the case  to the European Court of Human Rights, which declined to hear the case last week. The previous court rulings that it was in Charlie’s best interest to withdraw life support and that the state, not the parents, got to make this life and death decision stood.

The  parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, appeared on a video this week,, sobbing and saying their son would be removed from life support at the hospital. “He’d fight to the very end, but we’re not allowed to fight for him anymore,” Gard said in the video statement. “We can’t even take our own son home to die.”

Initially, the hospital would not delay the fatal  disconnection of the child from life support so family members could gather and say goodbye. It has since relented.

Observations: Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘No, Insurance Companies Treating People With Pre-Existing Conditions Differently From Other Customers Is Not Discrimination.’”

The health care/ACA/AHCA commentary from readers continues to be uniformly excellent. (It was originally spurred by the post, No, Insurance Companies Treating People With Pre-Existing Conditions Differently From Other Customers Is Not “Discrimination.”Spartan’s Comment of the Day on the topic has itself sparked its own Comment Of The Day, this one authored by Charles Green.

By fortune’s smiles, I was able to finally meet Charlie last week face to face, as he kindly alerted me that he would be passing through my neighborhood. Finally having personal contact with an Ethics Alarms reader is always a revealing and enjoyable experience, and this time especially so. I think you would all enjoy Charlie; I certainly did. Maybe I need to hold an Ethics Alarms convention.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Comment Of The Day: “No, Insurance Companies Treating People With Pre-Existing Conditions Differently From Other Customers Is Not ‘Discrimination’.”

…The claim that “a free market system” and “freedom of choice” is the solution to all that ails us is a mindless mantra that is only occasionally true, but not always.

It’s important to be clear about when free market solutions are good, and when they are not. It’s not all that hard to sort out. Basically:

Free market solutions ought to be the presumptive default. Unless there is good reason to the contrary, they ought to be the rule.

1. Exception Number 1: Natural monopolies. It makes no sense to have competition for municipal water supplies; airports; multiple-gauge railroads; fishing grounds; groundwater; or police departments. The basic reason is the putative economic benefit is either simply not there, or is absurdly overwhelmed by the social confusion engendered by multiple suppliers.
In these cases, a form of regulated monopoly is desirable. (By the way, the airline industry at a national level is precisely this kind of market; we do not have too little competition there, but too little regulation).

2. Exception Number 2a: Wallet-driven market power monopolies. It’s strategy 101 in business schools that the way to be successful is to be #1 or #2, and the best way to do that is to get more market share than your competition, so you can drive them out of business. The one guaranteed way to do that is to cut prices so low that no one else can compete. Think Walmart. Think Amazon. Think Japanese in the 60s and 70s in any industry.
The reason we have anti-monopoly laws is to reset the playing field when a competitor dominates the market too strongly.

3. Exception Number 2b: Product-driven market power monopolies. Where the product is so obscure, expensive, infinitely variable, and difficult to understand that the producers are de facto in control, because it is too confusing and too dangerous to challenge them.
Drug prescriptions are an interesting example. The ‘free market solution’ to high drug prices was (partly) to let drug companies advertise, and to loosen up the definition of what constituted a ‘new’ drug. What did we get? New diseases like RLS, new definitions of ‘new’ (moving ‘off label’ to ‘on label’) and even higher drug company profits. Because who’s still going to argue with your doc? Especially when he or she gets side benefits from giving in to the latest DTC ads on network news programs?

Continue reading

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