Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bioethics: Struggle for the control of life (and death)

I just returned home from the Bioethics and Politics Conference in Albany. I say “just” because a flight delay in Albany caused me to miss my connection home to Seattle, forcing me to spend Friday night at the airport in Chicago. United finally got me back to Seattle (via a DC connection!) late Saturday night. The travel glitch made me miss an important personal event in Seattle and had my friends asking me once again, why are you so committed to these seemingly obscure “bioethical issues?”

I don’t usually share my personal woes on the WBP blog. But I’m doing so because it gives me the opportunity to point out that the most important achievement of Glenn McGee’s historic conference is that it clearly demonstrated that bioethics is neither a collection of sideshow issues (Schiavo, Baby Doe, or media issue du jour) nor merely a sub-specialty of philosophy.

As many of the speakers (Charo, Zoloth, Cohen, Moreno, Smith, Doerflinger, Cameron, Wolpe – wow, what a line-up) powerfully indicated, at the core of this politicized bioethics, is the ultimate power struggle for the control of life (and death) and our sense of ourselves as human beings. And this, my friends, is worthy of devoting ones life too. Congratulations to Glenn and the other scholars who participated for an excellent conference.

PS. WBP board member Linda MacDonald Glenn spent much of the conference interviewing all sides of this debate and will be posting a series of fascinating podcasts. Thanks to Linda for her commitment to bring the conference to a broader audience.

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