By James F. Drane
After World War II, the U.S. government invested an enormous amount of money in medicine; medical research, medical procedures and medical technologies. This investment made contemporary scientific medicine into American medicine, characterized by a continuing flow of new treatment possibilities.
These advances raised all kinds of ethical questions. Some were personal and individual, others were social and political. Both type questions are addressed by a new academic discipline called bioethics.
The first attempt to develop a scientific medicine took place in Greece in the 5th century B.C. It was called Hippocratic medicine. Closely linked with this first scientific medicine was a refined medical ethics which spelled out how medicine should be practiced. Today’s scientific medicine is radically different and raises new ethical questions addressed by bioethics, the new medical ethics. Some of the older ethical issues remain, like the limits imposed by human finitude, the need to stop treatments that are futile, the fear of death and dying, the need for healers to be committed to help others rather than to promote their own interests. The new bioethics reaches into law, politics, philosophy, religion, literature and science. It reaches into individual life, social life and the popular media. The issues that it addresses in one form or another literally reach everyone.
The Nancy Schiavo case provides a good example of how many different interests can come together around a particular medical case. Nancy had suffered a stroke which left her without consciousness, with only vegetative functions, and maintained by new technologies. Involved in trying to decide what to do there were individual interests, family concerns, issues of medical futility, political differences, and on and on. As this one case shows, there is an enormous public interest in the many different questions raised by contemporary medicine. Judges became involved, politicians intervened, groups organized around different perspectives, religious authorities made official declarations, and the struggle among the different interests was often uncivil, indeed violent.
By James F. Drane
Pennsylvanians deserve Legislature’s full effort on fixing pension reform
If most of us left unfinished work on our desks and departed on a month-long vacation, there’s a good chance the boss would call us back and tell us to finish the job.
Meadville needs non-discrimination law to ensure the American way
On April 27, Meadville lost one of its most passionate and ardent advocates for civil and human rights with the passing of Mary Alice (Molly) Knox. Locally, Molly was best known for her association and leadership with the Unity Institute for Human Development in the 1970s. Unity was an organization dedicated to serving low-income children and youth.
Big price tag around department’s name change
Pennsylvania is one state in this great nation that still has something called the Department of Public Welfare.
We must work together to give Conneaut Lake Park its best chance yet at a comeback
Decades of false starts and dashed hopes have made it all too easy to dismiss the current push to save Conneaut Lake Park without understanding this truly exceptional opportunity.
The last time — live like it’s now or lose it forever
Nearly two decades ago, I visited my grandfather in the hospital as he recovered from a stroke. He was a man of many words in the latter stages of his life, usually more than most people wanted to hear. He knew that the end was near, as did I, and he proceeded to give me the proverbial don’t-forget-to-stop-and-smell-the-roses speech. They were just the ramblings of an old man to a busy 20-something family man, but I respectfully listened just the same. He would go home again one last time but not for long.
Leadership sets the example, which creates the tone for the success of all
One of the least desired but most beneficial jobs I held during my military career was chief of human resources with 25th Infantry Division — Light. It was a high-pressure staff job in which I worked directly for the commanding general. In a nutshell, I was tasked with developing all leadership, educational, counseling and fitness policies for a 12,000-soldier command.
Quiet fixes to festering problems tucked into budget bills
Despite intense lobbying from Gov. Tom Corbett, the Legislature failed to act last week on pension reform.
Patriotism alive at recent county commissioners meeting
Patriotism was alive at Thursday’s meeting of the Crawford County commissioners, as two of the three commissioners were wearing red, white and blue ties in observance of the Fourth of July holiday.
Kane’s own Sandusky investigation reveals only acrimony
An 18-month probe by law professor Geoffrey Moulton Jr. was supposed to determine why Pennsylvania’s attorney general took three years to charge Jerry Sandusky after a teenager reported being molested by the former assistant football coach at Penn State.
Let’s put in place policies that create jobs, benefit our country
The United States is in an exceedingly vulnerable position as a nation.
- More Opinion Headlines
- Pennsylvanians deserve Legislature’s full effort on fixing pension reform