The public face of bioethics focuses on hot-button issues such as stem cell research, genetic privacy, bioterrorism and physician-assisted suicide. These are, without doubt, critical issues. But larger policy questions at both the national and global levels are all-too-often neglected. For instance, nationally:
- How does industry funding affect pharmaceutical research and studies in food science?
- Do we have a national right to healthcare? If so, how much care are we entitled to, and what criteria should constrain this right?
- If there is historically a higher incidence of diabetes in the U.S. Hispanic population than the U.S. non-Hispanic white population, is fair access to healthcare sufficient? Or should we devote greater resources to rectifying such health disparities?
- Who is responsible for ensuring that children, both in the developed world and the developing world, do not die from readily preventable causes? How do we decide, given limited resources, which children should be helped first?
- Is healthcare a human right, or just a social policy that some countries adopt while others choose not to? If it is a human right, then how do we specify its content?
- How do we rectify the "outcome gap" that results as scientific research leads to medical and biotech advancements for populations in the developed world who can access them but to fewer improvements for populations in the developed world who cannot?
The Rock Ethics Institute is committed to practicing Bioethics Without Borders by addressing these questions and engaging issues of healthcare and health (both individual and public, national and global) more broadly—in the curriculum, in research, and in public policy discussion.
To practice Bioethics Without Borders means:
- broadening our focus to include urgent global problems—particularly in the developing world—as well as domestic issues;
- supporting interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research in the field of bioethics; and
- recognizing that while medical innovations are critical, solutions to some of our most pressing problems will also require improvements in other areas, such as water and sanitation, the local and global environment, social and economic opportunities in disadvantaged communities, and transportation infrastructure.