Commentary on medical news by a practicing physician.

  • Epocrates MedSearch Drug Lookup


    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

    ''Once you tell people there's a cure for something, the more likely they are to pressure doctors to prescribe it.''
    -Robert Ehrlich, drug advertising executive.

    "Opinions are like sphincters, everyone has one." - Chris Rangel

    email: medpundit-at-ameritech.net

    or if that doesn't work try:


    Medpundit RSS

    Quirky Museums and Fun Stuff

    Who is medpundit?

    Tech Central Station Columns

    Book Reviews:
    Read the Review

    Read the Review

    Read the Review

    More Reviews

    Second Hand Book Reviews


    Medical Blogs


    DB's Medical Rants

    Family Medicine Notes

    Grunt Doc




    Code Blog: Tales of a Nurse

    Feet First

    Tales of Hoffman

    The Eyes Have It


    SOAP Notes


    Cut-to -Cure

    Black Triangle



    Kevin, M.D

    The Lingual Nerve

    Galen's Log



    Doctor Mental



    Finestkind Clinic and Fish Market

    The Examining Room of Dr. Charles

    Chronicles of a Medical Mad House



    Health Facts and Fears

    Health Policy Blogs

    The Health Care Blog

    HealthLawProf Blog

    Facts & Fears

    Personal Favorites

    The Glittering Eye

    Day by Day


    The Business Word Inc.

    Point of Law

    In the Pipeline


    Tim Blair

    Jane Galt

    The Truth Laid Bear

    Jim Miller

    No Watermelons Allowed

    Winds of Change

    Science Blog

    A Chequer-Board of Night and Days

    Arts & Letters Daily

    Tech Central Station





    The Skeptic's Dictionary

    Recommended Reading

    The Doctor Stories by William Carlos Williams

    Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 by Elizabeth Fenn

    Intoxicated by My Illness by Anatole Broyard

    Raising the Dead by Richard Selzer

    Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

    The Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo

    A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich



    American Academy of Pediatrics

    General Health Info

    Travel Advice from the CDC

    NIH Medical Library Info



    Monday, September 13, 2004

    Embryo-Centrism: There's a new charge against the Kass bioethics council - that they're embryo-centric. But that isn't necessarily the insult that critics think it is:

    Finally, the charge of embryo-centrism assumes that microscopic embryos are too narrow and trivial a topic for a national debate on bioethics. On a practical level, this is quickly refuted. One of the facts uncovered by the council is that the in vitro fertilization business in the United States has swollen from nothing into a $4 billion industry in 25 years. The financial potential for embryonic stem cells is largely speculative, but it could be far greater. The future of embryos touches every home in America.

    According to another council member, William B. Hurlbut, a medical doctor and instructor at Stanford, belittling the importance of the embryo ignores the commercial potential of human body parts at all stages of development. "Anyone who denigrates our council work as 'embryo-centric' and therefore an overfocus on obscure concerns is not seeing clearly where science is heading," he says. "Sometimes the smallest things carry the largest meaning. This is not 'microethics' but a crucial hinge in the history of our understanding of human embodiment and human dignity."

    ....What has emerged from the quarrel over the council is evidence of the fracture between the "bio" substance and the "ethics" process. Critics like Annas and Caplan focus on the ethics--the codes, protocols, and declarations created by their new discipline. In their eyes, the destiny of bioethicists is to sit on bioethics committees and set public policy. As council member Gilbert Meilaender pointed out in an email, "It's exactly that view that has been responsible for a loss of much of the depth of reflection in bioethics in recent years."

    Kass's fundamental concern, however, and one that is reflected in the unusually thoughtful tone of the council's reports, is to examine the "bio"--the nature of life and what it means to be a human person. As the 2002 report, Human Cloning and Human Dignity, says, "On the surface, discussion has focused on the safety of cloning techniques, the hoped-for medical benefits of cloning research, and the morality of experimenting on human embryos. But driving the conversations are deeper concerns about where biotechnology may be taking us and what it might mean for human freedom, equality, and dignity."

    A variety of public policy issues merit careful study by bioethicists, but few affect a fraction of the people whose lives are touched by the rapidly changing context of human reproduction. On that score alone, the council's deliberations deserve praise, not censure, for placing far-reaching technologies at the center of national debate--not closeted away in company boardrooms.

    posted by Sydney on 9/13/2004 08:05:00 AM 0 comments


    Post a Comment

    This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.

    Main Page


    Home   |   Archives

    Copyright 2006