“I am the left, I mean “Progressives,” hear me, hear me, hear me! (Just try not to hear me.)” This is my summary of the reviews of the “Center for American Progress” conference titled “Is there an ethicist in the House?” (PDF file).
The title is a quote in Nature from Arthur Leonard Caplan, PhD, the current Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania:
But the progressive group hopes to emulate the conservatives’ success in influencing public policy. Conservative bioethicists have set up a network of think-tanks and journals that issue position papers, book media appearances and hold meetings with politicians.
Progressive bioethics has to talk about those who are left out.
These strategies have shaped the Republican response in debates over stem-cell research and the right-to-die case of Florida’s Terri Schiavo. Caplan and others were outraged when Republican leaders fought to keep Schiavo on life support against her husband’s wishes. ‘Nothing could make clearer the difference between progressive and conservative bioethics,’ says Caplan.
For more coverage, William Saletan has this on Slate
You can find links to the video and transcript of the conference (and praise!) at the American Journal of Bioethics blog.
Be sure and note the Chairs and Directors who self identify as “Progressives” and simultaneously complain of being powerless.
In fact, there is a very real divide between the left and the right in Bioethics: The left chooses to use the full potential of the field to decide who is worthy of life and who is not. And they claim to be powerless.
Unfortunately for those of us who prefer to choose life, and in direct contradiction to Caplan’s claim, the left is firmly in control of the Academic and media forces of bioethics — which is neither “ethics” nor “medical ethics.” Currently, there is an Administration (due to an election, the ultimate poll of US opinion) that picks representatives of the “right,” but the voices that we hear and the words we read in the science and medical journals and in the popular press.
More later on the actual power of the left in US Bioethics.