Friday, March 10, 2017

Conscientious objection, ethical problems in clinical research in public health emergencies, problems with ethics guidelines and other stuff

I know I know, I have not posted much since September last year. It's been an unusually busy time, professionally, so I must beg for your understanding that this blog has taken a backseat to other projects. I mostly want to alert you here to content I have published or that I have forthcoming. as well as the odd project that's going forward.

Let's start then with a heads-up on publications! I have done a lot of work on the issue of conscientious objection, mostly because I feared (I was right) it would be one of the tools in the armament of those determined to subvert the Canadian Supreme Court decision that decriminalised assisted dying. We have since discovered that buildings (hospitals) think they have conscience rights, even conscience rights that weigh heavier than the conscience rights of the doctors and other health care professionals working in them. Naturally, I am referring to Canada's legions of Catholic hospitals. Then there are health care professionals who think that saying 'I object on grounds of conscience' to the delivery of professional services that they are monopoly providers of, should kinda trigger all-out societal accommodation efforts, patients rights to service delivery be damned. I think both the hospitals as well as those doctors got it badly wrong, and I published a few papers designed to show why that is so.

Here's a paper in the Journal of Clinical Ethics, another one in the Journal of medical ethics, one in Bioethics [Open Access], a reply to various critics in the Journal of medical ethics and an Editorial in Bioethics, all on the conscientious objection issue.

I have also written a few other Editorials, on the ethics of access to unregistered medical interventions during infectious disease outbreaks, on baby boomers and assisted dying, and on the seemingly vacuous rhetoric of 'dignity' and 'vulnerability' that is liberally deployed in UNESCO's bioethics documents.

There are a few other papers in the production pipeline, one on treatment resistant depression and assisted dying is currently under review, and a piece on catastrophically ill patients right to access unregistered medical interventions, forthcoming in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics.

I am currently busy organising an international workshop to be held at this lovely location in mid August, on recent revisions of the World Medical Associations Declaration of Helsinki and the Council for International Organisations of Medical Sciences research ethics guidelines. My own take on the CIOMS document was published in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics.

Last week, in London, I spent a day with Ruth Chadwick, the other Editor of Bioethics, and our Editors at Wiley, to discuss how we will develop the journal to make it even more successful. Stay tuned for developments on that frontier. Oh, Ruth and I are also close to completing a new bioethics textbook that we are writing jointly. It's years late, which is probably inevitable when you have your plate full with research, teaching and other stuff, but we're close to completion of that project!

I also delivered on the teaching frontiers, creating a new first-year bioethics course for Queen's undergraduates. I have not taught undergraduates for oodles of years, so that was quite an experience. The teaching evaluations suggest that folks enjoyed it. But then, I would say that, wouldn't I?

Last but not least, in the end of March Ruth and I will be off to China to participate in a bioethics conference.

And that's a wrap.