Bioethical Silence & Black Lives

Derek Ayeh
2020
When confirmation was released that researchers from China had genetically modified human embryos for the first time ever, there was a sudden explosion of activity on the web from the bioethics community. Physicians, academics, and anyone else who could claim some affiliation to the field wrote articles for magazines discussing the ethical dimensions of the issue. After all, human enhancement and genetic modification are staples of bioethical discourse. Who wouldn't want to add their two cents
more » ... dd their two cents and take part in such an important discussion? Conversely, when the news of Freddie Gray's death became public, I was greeted by a surprising but familiar bioethical silence. Surprising because I thought that the relationship between Freddie Gray's death and bioethics was rather obvious: here was a man who requested healthcare numerous times but was refused it—the justification being that he was a criminal and either faking his pain or self-inflicting it. While there are likely numerous reasons why Freddie Gray died, do bystanders have moral responsibilities when they witness an injured person? There's often debate about whether a bystander has a moral responsibility to intervene. However, as public servants, police officers surely have some ethical responsibility to ensure that even criminals receive medical treatment when badly injured. It is ethically troubling that individuals charged with protecting the public ignored a man who was begging for and needed immediate medical treatment.[1] The dimensions of the situation also intrigued me: even incarcerated individuals are entitled to receive "adequate" healthcare, so on what moral grounds does a police officer stand when he/she ignores the cries for treatment of someone who has been seriously injured? While other aspects of the case concern me, these were questions I was able to ask purely as a student of bioethics— questions I thought bioethicists should have opinions about and be interested in discussing. Yet, while bioethicists have had no issue condemning genetic expe [...]
doi:10.7916/vib.v1i.6605 fatcat:2nbh6isaizawrcv4fs2xvuj5u4