International developments in abortion law from 1988 to 1998.
OBJECTIVES: In 2 successive decades since 1967, legal accommodation of abortion has grown in many countries. The objective of this study was to assess whether liberalizing trends have been maintained in the last decade and whether increased protection of women's human rights has influenced legal reform. METHODS: A worldwide review was conducted of legislation and judicial rulings affecting abortion, and legal reforms were measured against governmental commitments made under international human rights treaties and at United Nations conferences. RESULTS: Since 1987, 26 jurisdictions have extended grounds for lawful abortion, and 4 countries have restricted grounds. Additional limits on access to legal abortion services include restrictions on funding of services, mandatory counseling and reflection delay requirements, third-party authorizations, and blockades of abortion clinics. CONCLUSIONS: Progressive liberalization has moved abortion laws from a focus on punishment toward concern with women's health and welfare and with their human rights. However, widespread maternal mortality and morbidity show that reform must be accompanied by accessible abortion services and improved contraceptive care and information. (+info)
Can we learn from eugenics?
Eugenics casts a long shadow over contemporary genetics. Any measure, whether in clinical genetics or biotechnology, which is suspected of eugenic intent is likely to be opposed on that ground. Yet there is little consensus on what this word signifies, and often only a remote connection to the very complex set of social movements which took that name. After a brief historical summary of eugenics, this essay attempts to locate any wrongs inherent in eugenic doctrines. Four candidates are examined and rejected. The moral challenge posed by eugenics for genetics in our own time, I argue, is to achieve social justice. (+info)
Should childhood immunisation be compulsory?
Immunisation is offered to all age groups in the UK, but is mainly given to infants and school-age children. Such immunisation is not compulsory, in contrast to other countries, such as the United States. Levels of immunisation are generally very high in the UK, but the rates of immunisation vary with the public perception of the risk of side effects. This article discusses whether compulsory vaccination is acceptable by considering individual cases where parents have failed to give consent or have explicitly refused consent for their children to be immunised. In particular, the rights of: a parent to rear his/her child according to his/her own standards; the child to receive health care, and the community to be protected from vaccine-preventable infectious disease are considered. The conclusion of the article is that compulsory vaccination cannot, with very few exceptions, be justified in the UK, in view of the high levels of population immunity which currently exist. (+info)
An international survey of medical ethics curricula in Asia.
SETTING: Medical ethics education has become common, and the integrated ethics curriculum has been recommended in Western countries. It should be questioned whether there is one, universal method of teaching ethics applicable worldwide to medical schools, especially those in non-Western developing countries. OBJECTIVE: To characterise the medical ethics curricula at Asian medical schools. DESIGN: Mailed survey of 206 medical schools in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 100 medical schools responded, a response rate of 49%, ranging from 23%-100% by country. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The degree of integration of the ethics programme into the formal medical curriculum was measured by lecture time; whether compulsory or elective; whether separate courses or unit of other courses; number of courses; schedule; total length, and diversity of teachers' specialties. RESULTS: A total of 89 medical schools (89%) reported offering some courses in which ethical topics were taught. Separate medical ethics courses were mostly offered in all countries, and the structure of vertical integration was divided into four patterns. Most deans reported that physicians' obligations and patients' rights were the most important topics for their students. However, the evaluation was diverse for more concrete topics. CONCLUSION: Offering formal medical ethics education is a widespread feature of medical curricula throughout the study area. However, the kinds of programmes, especially with regard to integration into clinical teaching, were greatly diverse. (+info)
Public health law in an age of terrorism: rethinking individual rights and common goods.
The balance between individual interests and common goods needs to be recalibrated in an age of terrorism. Public health agencies should have a robust infrastructure to conduct essential public health services at a level of performance that matches evolving threats to the health of the public. This includes a well-trained workforce, electronic information, surveillance, and laboratory capacity. This paper explains modern efforts at public health law reform: a Model Public Health Statute and the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA), which has been enacted wholly or in part by nineteen states and the District of Columbia. Next, the paper shows why existing public health laws provide a weak foundation for public health practice. Finally, the paper offers a systematic defense of MSEHPA, which has galvanized the public debate around the appropriate balance between public goods and individual rights. (+info)
Bioterrorism, public health, and human rights.
It is unnecessary and counterproductive to sacrifice basic human rights to respond to bioterrorism. Constructive public health legislation, which must be federal, cannot be carefully drafted under panic conditions. When it is, like the "model act," it will predictably rely on broad, arbitrary state authority exercised without public accountability. Public health should resist reverting to its nineteenth-century practices of forced examination and quarantine, which will simply encourage people to avoid physicians, hospitals, and public health practitioners they now trust and actively seek out in emergencies. Upholding human rights is essential to public trust and is ultimately our best defense against the threat of terrorism in the twenty-first century. (+info)
Bioterrorism, public health, and the law.
The controversy over the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act has underscored the enduring tension in public health between guarding the common welfare and respecting individual liberty. The current version of the act, crafted in response to extensive public commentary, attempts to strike a balance between these values but has failed to allay the concerns of many civil libertarians and privacy advocates. Although the debates over the model act have been triggered by the threat of bioterrorism, they illustrate broader philosophical differences, with profound implications for all realms of public health policy. (+info)