Yale Friday Newsletter – 02/22/13

Here’s this week’s Yale newsletter.  Enjoy!

Updates from Steve Latham:

Our friends at the Hastings Center have just launched a new informational website on the ethics of medical research with animals.  The site is a supplement to the recently-completed Hastings Special Report on the subject; that Report was a joint Yale-Hastings project, funded by a grant from the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund. Check out the site and the Report; you’ll find work by yours truly as well as by Joel Marks and Sue Kopp, co-conveners of our Animal Ethics group.

  Thursday, February 28

Time: 4:15 PM

Location: 77 Prospect St, room B012

Speaker: Lila Miller, DVM, Vice President for Veterinary Outreach, ASPCA

Topic: The Link Between Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

This Week on Campus

Monday, February 25

History of Science & Medicine Lecture
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 320 York St, room 211
Speaker: Jon M. Harkness, J.D., Ph.D.
Topic: Of Adrenalin(e) and the Breast Cancer Gene Patent: Myriad Implications of a Century-Old Mistake by Judge Learned Hand

Divinity School Lecture
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: 409 Prospect St, Marquand Chapel
Speaker: Michelle Alexander, author
Topic: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Tuesday, February 26

Rudd Center Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 309 Edwards St, conf room
Speaker: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD, Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
Topic: Promoting a Positive Body Image in Adolescents: Why and How?

Ellen M. Iseman Lecture
Time: 4 PM
Location: 248 York St, common room
Speaker: Dr. Paula Rauch, founder and director, Marjorie E. Korff Parenting At a Challenging Time Program, Massachusetts General Hospital
Topic: Helping Children and Families Navigate the Challenges of Parental Illness

Himalaya Initiative Seminar
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: 34 Hillhouse Ave
Topic: Defending and Transforming Tibetan Medicine in the 21st Century

Wednesday, February 27

School of Forestry Seminar
Time: 12 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Dan Esty, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Topic: A 21st Century Approach to Energy and Environmental Policy: Connecticut Leading the Way

Thursday, February 28

Genocide Studies Seminar
Time: 1:30 PM
Location: 77 Prospect St, room B012
Speaker: Deborah Mayersen, Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Wollongong, Australia
Topic: Pre-Genocide Representations of Ethnicity in Rwandan Presidential Speeches

Human Rights Workshop
Time: 4:15 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 128
Speaker: Troy Elder, YLS ’95, Senior Schell Visiting Human Rights Fellow, Yale Law School
Topic: Doping Medellin: Getting Extradition (Humanly and Ethically) Right

ISPS/Law School Panel Discussion
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, Levinson Auditorium
Topic: Spinning Our Wheels?  Doping in Professional Cycling

Humanities in Medicine’s McGovern Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 300 Cedar St, Anlyan Auditorium
Speakers: Michael Bennick, MD, Associate Chief of Medicine and Director of the Patient Experience at YNHH
Janet Henrich, MD, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Topic: Living History Project

Environmental Law & Policy Lecture
Time: 6:10 PM
Location: 127 Wall St, room 121
Speaker: Andrew Guzman, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for International and Executive Education at the University of California, Berkeley
Topic: Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change

Friday, March 1

Zigler Center Lecture
Time: 11:30 AM
Location: 100 Wall St, room 116
Speaker: Alexandra Dufresne, JD, Lecturer Ethics Politics & Economics, Yale College; & Staff Attorney for Child Abuse Project, Center for Children’s Advocacy in Hartford
Topic: Children’s Advocacy in Connecticut: A Practical Guide to Strategies that Work

Sustainable Food Seminar
Time: 12:30 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Mark Crumpacker, CMO, Chipotle Mexican Grill
Topic: Transparency, Marketing, and Sourcing in the New Food Movement


Conferences & Off Campus Events 

Contemplative Environmental Studies: Pedagogy For Self And Planet, July 28 – August 3, 2013, Lama Foundation, San Cristobal, New Mexico.  How can higher education best address global environmental challenges? How can we most meaningfully teach and research about environmental issues? How can we cultivate our inner lives through active engagement with environmental challenges? This workshop explores the contribution of contemplative practices to scholarly inquiry and teaching in environmental studies. Through discussions with distinguished scholars, focused conversations among colleagues, artistic exercises, and regular contemplative practice (meditation, yoga, journaling, and nature walks), participants will investigate ways to deepen their teaching, research, and lives at this historic moment of environmental intensification. Part workshop and part retreat, this 6-day summer institute provides an opportunity to step back from the frenetic pace of our lives, and cultivate our inner resources and nurture the resiliency we need as teachers committed to education on a fragile and wild planet. The Institute will take place at the Lama Foundation in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Lama is a beautiful, off-grid community committed to sustainable and mindful living. It sits on 100 acres surrounded by National Forest land and draws its power from the sun, water from a spring, and much of its food in the summer directly from the garden. Lama’s funky, solar-powered, eco-conscious retreat center has been a locus of inner and outer work since Ram Dass wrote Be Here Now under its ponderosa pines back in 1971. At 8500 feet, it provides an ideal setting for reflection and engagement with contemplative environmental issues. Each day will include sessions that explore the contemplative nature of environmental affairs, such as the role of compassion, silence, direct experience, and engaged social action in responding to environmental dangers. Each day will also include substantial contemplative practice time. As a group, we will engage in meditation, yoga, art exercises, journaling, nature walks, and community tuning. There will also be opportunities for participants to partake of other contemplative activities hosted by the Lama community, and to use free time to deepen one’s personal practice (or simply relax). The Institute will weave these activities together through a focus on contemplative environmental pedagogy. It aims to cultivate ways of best educating college and university students in a time of monumental environmental intensification. The cost will be $950 (includes all meals, workshop fee, and workshop materials).  Questions? Email Paul Wapner at pwapner@american.edu or visit the CES website: http://www.american.edu/sis/gep/Contemplative-Environmental-Studies-Workshop.cfm.


Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

The Henry Jackson Foundation is seeking a Bioethicist to provide support under an NIH-funded contract to the Division of AIDS (DAIDS) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of NIH, located on Rockledge Drive in Bethesda, Maryland.  Under the NIH Contract, HJF’s separate operating division, HJF-DAIDS, provides scientific and operations support to DAIDS including the Basic Sciences Program (BSP). Responsibilities include researching and preparing background materials on bioethical issues relevant to NIH/NIAID research for use by NIAID staff; reviewing clinical trial protocols upon request; working with NIAID staff to identify, coordinate, and resolve issues concerning ethical principles and the application of United States and international regulations and ethical guidelines in international settings; providing expert input in planning and organizing stakeholder meetings on bioethics topics.  Excellent research, oral communication and writing skills needed, and experience and advanced training in bioethics required.  For more information and to apply, click here.


The Paris Institute for Advanced Studies welcomes applications from all over the world from established scholars and scientists in the fields of the humanities, the social sciences and related fields for periods of five or nine months, respectively. Paris IAS will host twenty international guest researchers for 2014-2015 to work freely on the project of their choice, to benefit from the scientific environment of the Institute, and to create contacts with researchers in the academic institutions of Greater Paris. Researchers from all countries are eligible. Applicants who have spent more than a total of 12 months in France during the last 3 years prior to the application are not eligible. This call for applications is open to: Senior Fellows: having a full professorship or seniority at the professor-level and having a minimum of 10 years of full time research experience; Junior Fellows: Having the status of postdoctoral researcher, holding a position in a university or research institution, and having a minimum of 3 and maximum of 9 years of full-time research experience after the Ph.D. Knowledge of French and English is required. The application, in English or French, must be submitted via an online application system. Paper applications are not accepted. The application deadline is April 30, 2013. To access to the on-line application system: http://paris-iea.fr/en/user/register.


Calls for Papers & Nominations

Personhood Beyond the Human,  Dec 6-8, 2013, Yale University, New Haven, CT USA
http://nonhumanrights.net Sponsors:  Nonhuman Rights Project, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, Yale Animal Ethics Group, Yale Technology and Ethics Group. A growing body of research shows that many nonhuman animals, especially great apes, dolphins and whales, and elephants, have self-awareness, intentionality, creativity, symbolic communication, and the other characteristics of “personhood.”  If at least some animals are psychological persons isn’t it time to extend the legal protection of ‘human rights’ from our species to all beings with those characteristics? Given pending advances in genetic engineering and computing, having a clear agenda for what criteria are necessary for personhood, and what we owe persons, may soon become even more complicated. The Personhood Beyond the Human conference will tackle these questions and take a hard look at our evolving notions of personhood by analyzing them through the frameworks of neuroscience, behavioral science, philosophy, ethics, and law. Special consideration will be given to discussions of nonhuman animal personhood, both in terms of understanding the science and philosophy behind personhood, and ways to protect animal interests through the establishment of legal precedents and by increasing public awareness. The conference will be co-sponsored by the Nonhuman Rights Project and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) in collaboration with the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, the Yale Animal Ethics Group, and the Yale Technology and Ethics Working Group.  The first day of the conference will focus on the philosophical and public policy issues around nonhuman personhood. The second day will focus on the legal cases the Nonhuman Rights Project will be filing in 2013 on behalf of animals, and the legal arguments they will be using. By the close of the conference, attendees will have gained an enhanced understanding of the neurological, cognitive, and behavioral underpinnings of personhood and those traits required for such consideration; personhood theory; the history of personhood consideration and status (both in terms of philosophical and legal conceptions); and the legal hurdles and requirements for granting personhood status outside of the human species. Please include the following information with your proposal: 1. Name(s), 2. Affiliation(s), 3. Address, 4. City, Province/State, Postal/Zip Code, and Country, 5. Telephone, 6. Email Address(es), 7. Presentation Title, 8. Abstract or description of 50-150 words. DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: April 1, 2013.  Please email proposals to: James J. Hughes Ph.D., Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, director@ieet.org, 860-297-2376.


COINN 2013 is a global educational forum for health care professionals in the disciplines of nursing, midwifery, perinatal medicine and allied health from the United Kingdom, Europe, Australasia, Canada and the Americas to exchange ideas and information on the latest developments in the field. Submit an abstract and engage the best and brightest minds from around the world. Abstract topics include: Deprivation/Conflict zone studies, Drug networks & development, Feeding/GIT, Genomics, Global health issues, Health Economics,  Long-term outcomes/Early Interventions, Palliative care/bereavement, Respiratory/Ventilation, Surgery/Cardiac management, Transport and stabilization, Workplace management. Submission Deadline: 5th April, 2013. Once you’ve Submitted, Secure your Space at COINN 2013. Register before 7th June, 2013 and save with COINN 2013’s special ‘Early Bird’ registration rates.


Saint Louis University LAW & ASLME 2013 Health Law Scholars Workshop Oct. 10 -12, 2013. The Health Law Scholars Workshop is a collegial forum in which faculty new to health law and bioethics scholarship present works-in-progress and receive in-depth advice from experienced scholars and teachers in the field of health law and bioethics. Each author’s work-in-progress accepted for the Health Law Scholars Workshop will be read in advance by several faculty members in relevant fields. During the Workshop weekend, each author presents his or her paper to the full group. After extensive oral feedback from the readers, the floor is opened for a sustained exchange between the presenter and full group. Those interested in presenting a health law or bioethics work-in-progress at the Health Law Scholars Workshop should submit a 500-word abstract of the proposed paper together with a résumé to Cheryl Cooper at Saint Louis University School of Law by April 1, 2013. Because a blind selection process is used, please do not include the author’s name or institutional affiliation on the abstract. Questions about the submission process should be directed to Prof. Sidney D. Watson at watsons@slu.edu or 314 977-2751. Send submissions to: Cheryl Cooper, Program Coordinator, Center for Health Law Studies, Saint Louis University School of Law, 3700 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108, (T) 314.977.3067, (F) 314.977.3332, ccoope22@slu.edu.  View the full 2013 Health Law Scholars Workshop Brochure here.


Other Items of Interest

The Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies (CCDS) is currently accepting applications for their Masters Programs (Euro-Mediterranean & Cultural Diplomacy Studies; International Relations & Cultural Diplomacy; International Economics & Cultural Diplomacy); their study abroad Programs and Certificate Programs in International Relations & Cultural Diplomacy; and their Distance Learning Programs in Cultural Diplomacy.  For further information, contact cfa@culturaldiplomacy.de


Articles of Interest

In the News

Moss, Michael. The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food. 20 February 2013.
On the evening of April 8, 1999, a long line of Town Cars and taxis pulled up to the Minneapolis headquarters of Pillsbury and discharged 11 men who controlled America’s largest food companies. Nestlé was in attendance, as were Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills and Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars. Rivals any other day, the C.E.O.’s and company presidents had come together for a rare, private meeting. On the agenda was one item: the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. While the atmosphere was cordial, the men assembled were hardly friends. Their stature was defined by their skill in fighting one another for what they called “stomach share” — the amount of digestive space that any one company’s brand can grab from the competition. Continue reading…


Charles, Dan. Farmer’s Fight with Monsanto Reaches the Supreme Court. NPR. 18 February 2013.
This week, the Supreme Court will take up a classic David-and-Goliath case. On one side, there’s a 75-year-old farmer in Indiana named Vernon Hugh Bowman; on the other, the agribusiness giant Monsanto.The farmer is fighting the long reach of Monsanto’s patents on seeds — but he’s up against more than just Monsanto. The biotech and computer software industries are taking Monsanto’s side. Bowman also is battling a historic shift that’s transformed the nation’s seed business over the past 20 years. Continue reading…

Aubrey, Allison. Smaller But Better? Organic Tomatoes May Pack More Nutritional Punch. NPR. 20 February 2013.
A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that tomatoes grown on organic farms were about 40 percent smaller than conventionally grown tomatoes. The upside? They pack more of a nutritional punch. The researchers found the organic tomatoes had significantly higher levels of vitamin C, sugar and lycopene. Continue reading…

Lomborg, Bjorn. The Deadly Opposition to Genetically Modified Food. Slate. 17 February 2013.
Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible? Continue reading…

Health Care

Chen, Pauline. Afraid to Speak Up to Medical Power. New York Times. 14 February 2013.
For several decades, medical educators and sociologists have documented the existence of hierarchies and an intense awareness of rank among doctors. It turns out that this keen awareness of ranking is not limited to students and interns. Other research has shown that fully trained physicians are acutely aware of a tacit professional hierarchy based on specialties, like primary care versus neurosurgery, or even on diseases different specialists might treat, like hemorrhoids and constipation versus heart attacks and certain cancers. It is the potentially disastrous repercussions for patients that make this overly developed awareness of rank and boundaries a critical issue in medicine. Continue reading…

Wang, Shirley. Group Urges Health-Test Curbs. Wall Street Journal. 20 February 2013.
Amid a growing effort to curb unnecessary health care, a consortium of medical groups is issuing a sweeping set of recommendations to limit commonly overused tests and treatments. The 90-odd recommendations, designed to reduce costs and in some cases to protect patients from potential harm, come from 17 different groups ranging from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Continue reading…

Law and Bioethics

Moran, Robert. Penn Health System to Stop Hiring Smokers. Philadelphia News. 19 February 2013.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System will no longer hire smokers and other tobacco users, starting in July. The system, which includes the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said the policy would improve the health of its workforce and reduce the cost of health-care benefits. Continue reading…

Medical Ethics

Brill, Steven. Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us. Time. 20 February 2013.
When you look behind the bills that patients receive, you see nothing rational — no rhyme or reason — about the costs they faced in a marketplace they enter through no choice of their own. The only constant is the sticker shock for the patients who are asked to pay. Yet those who work in the health care industry and those who argue over health care policy seem inured to the shock. When we debate health care policy, we seem to jump right to the issue of who should pay the bills, blowing past what should be the first question: Why exactly are the bills so high? Continue reading…

Public Health

Zeidler, Sari. Why Youths Aren’t Getting Tested for HIV. CNN. 19 February 2013.
According to the CDC, 50,000 Americans are infected with HIV each year, and 25% of those are between the ages of 13 and 24. Sixty percent of youth with HIV don’t know they have it, despite recommendations from the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Continue reading…


Where Have All the Babies Gone? Newsweek. 19 February 2013.
Sitting around a table at a hookah bar in New York’s East Village with three women and a gay man, all of them in their 20s and 30s and all resolved to remain childless, a few things quickly became clear: First, for many younger Americans and especially those in cities, having children is no longer an obvious or inevitable choice. Second, many of those opting for childlessness have legitimate, if perhaps selfish, reasons for their decision. Continue reading…

Research Ethics

Marcus, Amy Dockser. Families Push for New Ways to Research Rare Diseases. Wall Street Journal. 18 February 2013.
Parents with children who have rare and debilitating diseases are pushing to change how researchers develop medicines to treat the conditions. The parents want different scientists researching the diseases to share data about the patients so the children won’t need to participate in so many studies. The idea of sharing medical data from patients with rare diseases is gaining backing from public-health officials at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. If companies, hospitals and researchers don’t have to cover the full cost of such studies, there might be more efforts to develop treatments for rare diseases, these officials say. The studies can take a toll on the families, who often must travel great distances with the ailing young patients to undergo arduous medical procedures. Companies and academic researchers, though, are often reluctant to cede control of what they consider proprietary information. Continue reading…


Kolata, Gina. DNA Test for Rare Disorders Becomes More Routine. New York Times. 18 February 2013.
A few years ago, advanced genetic testing was so difficult and expensive that it was generally only available to participants in research projects like those sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. But the price has plunged in just a few years from tens of thousands of dollars to around $7,000 to $9,000 for a family. Baylor College of Medicine and a handful of companies are now offering it. Insurers usually pay. Continue reading…


In the Journals 

Chan, Tuck Wai. Buddhism and Medical Futility. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. December 2012.
Religious faith and medicine combine harmoniously in Buddhist views, each in its own way helping Buddhists enjoy a more fruitful existence. Health care providers need to understand the spiritual needs of patients in order to provide better care, especially for the terminally ill. Using a recently reported case to guide the reader, this paper examines the issue of medical futility from a Buddhist perspective. Important concepts discussed include compassion, suffering, and the significance of the mind. Compassion from a health professional is essential, and if medical treatment can decrease suffering without altering the clarity of the mind, then a treatment should not be considered futile. Suffering from illness and death, moreover, is considered by Buddhists a normal part of life and is ever-changing. Sickness, old age, birth, and death are integral parts of human life. Suffering is experienced due to the lack of a harmonious state of body, speech, and mind. Buddhists do not believe that the mind is located in the brain, and, for Buddhists, there are ways suffering can be overcome through the control of one’s mind. Continue reading…

Heavey, Patrick. The Place of God in Synthetic Biology: How will the Catholic Church respond? Bioethics. January 2013.
Some religious believers may see synthetic biology as usurping God’s creative role. The Catholic Church has yet to issue a formal teaching on the field (though it has issued some informal statements in response to Craig Venter’s development of a ‘synthetic’ cell). In this paper I examine the likely reaction of the Catholic Magisterium to synthetic biology in its entirety. I begin by examining the Church’s teaching role, from its own viewpoint, to set the necessary backround and context for the discussion that follows. I then describe the Church’s attitude to science, and particularly to biotechnology. From this I derive a likely Catholic theology of synthetic biology. The Church’s teachings on scientific and biotech research show that it is likely to have a generally positive disposition to synbio, if it and its products can be acceptably safe. Proper evaluation of, and protection against, risk will be a significant factor in determining the morality of the research. If the risks can be minimized through regulation or other means, then the Church is likely to be supportive. The Church will also critique the social and legal environment in which the research is done, evaluating issues such as the patenting of scientific discoveries and of life. Continue reading…

Kermit, Patrick. Enhancement Technology and Outcomes: What Professionals and Researchers Can Learn from Those Skeptical About Cochlear Implants. Health Care Analysis. December 2012.
This text presents an overview of the bioethical debate on pediatric cochlear implants and pays particular attention to the analysis of the Deaf critique of implantation. It dismisses the idea that Deaf concerns are primarily about the upholding of Deaf culture and sign language. Instead it is argued that Deaf skepticism about child rehabilitation after cochlear surgery is well founded. Many Deaf people have lived experiences as subjects undergoing rehabilitation. It is not the cochlear technology in itself they view as problematic, but rather the subsequent rehabilitation process. Because they themselves have experienced what they describe as harmful effects which relate above all to the idea of normalization, they have articulated worries for the new generations of deaf children in need of rehabilitation following cochlear implant surgery. These insights have attracted little attention, but could represent relevant ethical questions of which both practitioners and researchers in the field of implantation might be aware. Continue reading…

Morrisey, Barbara. Ethics and Research Among Persons With Disabilities in Long-Term Care. Qualitative Health Research. July 2012.
In this article, I reveal the arguments used to gain ethics approval to do research among persons with disabilities in adult residential care in New Brunswick and the specific ways I planned to act in their best interests. I also discuss the unexpected dilemmas encountered in the field and my efforts to resolve them. These dilemmas included determining the capacity of the persons in care to assent to be interviewed, addressing the propensity for acquiescence, dealing with anonymity and confidentiality issues, finding the optimum contexts for interviews, preparing participants for when I would leave the field, negotiating full disclosure as the mother of an adult with disabilities in long-term care, and ensuring that no persons under the auspices of the Office of the Public Trustee in New Brunswick participated in this research. I conclude that specific efforts should continue to be made to include persons with disabilities in future research. Continue reading…



Ars Technica

Mullin, Joe. Farmer’s supreme court fight to limit Monsanto seed patents looks bleak. February 19, 2013.
In 1994, Monsanto patented a type of genetically modified soybean that was able to resist its Roundup herbicide. The company called the soybeans Roundup Ready, and the seeds grew wildly popular, and today, Roundup Ready soybeans account for more than 90 percent of soybeans sold in the US. The crop is “probably the most rapidly adopted technological advance in history,” said Monsanto’s lawyer, Seth Waxman, arguing the Bowman v. Monsanto case at the Supreme Court today. Continue reading…

Mullin, Joe. Australian court says genes can be patented. February 15, 2013.
A major legal battle is underway over gene patents in the US and is now headed to the Supreme Court, with oral arguments scheduled for April. A similar battle is taking place in Australia, and proponents of gene patents have just won a major victory in that nation. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. Raju’s risk. February 21, 2013.

Dr. Ram Raju, the chief executive of the Cook County health system, announced an ambitious restructuring of the system’s operations and top managers on Wednesday. Continue reading…

Editorial. The truth about teen sex. February 20, 2013.
American teenagers are awash in temptation, particularly the kind that involves pleasures of the flesh. They are exposed to racier images on television than ever before. Popular music celebrates carnal passion with unceasing gusto. And the Internet offers an endless array of graphic sexual fare. From watching “Glee” or “Gossip Girl,” you get the idea that high school is just one hookup after another. Continue reading…

Editorial. The Medicaid leap. February 17, 2013.
Last May, Illinois lawmakers made a wrenching decision to pare back the state’s Medicaid program because the state is dead broke. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Welch, H. Gilbert. The mammogram dilemma. February 21, 2013.
There is growing evidence that screening mammograms aren’t all they’ve been cracked up to be. This month it was “More mammograms, more problems” — a study showing that screening every year (instead of every other) didn’t produce any benefit but did produce twice as many false alarms and twice as many biopsies. A few weeks earlier, another study (which I coauthored) suggested that roughly one-third of breast cancers diagnosed under current screening guidelines would never cause problems and didn’t actually need to be diagnosed. Continue reading…

Kimbrell, George & Barker, Debbie. Should Monsanto own patent rights on the elements of life? February 19, 2013.
On Tuesday, attorneys for the largest agrochemical corporation in the world, Monsanto, will present arguments before the Supreme Court asserting the company’s rights to the generations of seeds that naturally reproduce from its genetically modified strains. Bowman vs. Monsanto Co. will be decided based on the court’s interpretation of a complex web of seed and plant patent law, but the case also reflects something much more basic: Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life? Continue reading…

New York Times

Editorial. Reproductive rights in New York. February 19, 2013.
New York State once led the nation in advancing women’s rights. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to re-establish that pre-eminence with an omnibus agenda on women’s equality. The most important piece of that agenda would essentially enshrine in state law existing federal protections for abortion rights. Continue reading…

Editorial. Finding out who pays your doctor. February 18, 2013.
The Obama administration issued a new rule this month that requires the makers of prescription drugs and other medical products to disclose what they pay doctors for various purposes, like consulting or speaking on behalf of the manufacturer. This overdue rule adds much-needed weight to previous, more limited disclosure requirements. Continue reading…


McWilliams, James. Beastly Justice. February 21, 2013.
In the fall of 1457, villagers in Savigny, France witnessed a sow and six piglets attack and kill a 5-year-old boy. Today, the animals would be summarily killed. But errant 15th-century French pigs went to court. And it wasn’t for a show trial—this was the real deal, equipped with a judge, two prosecutors, eight witnesses, and a defense attorney for the accused swine. Witness testimony proved beyond reasonable doubt that the sow had killed the child. The piglets’ role, however, was ambiguous. Although splattered with blood, they were never seen directly attacking the boy.  The judge sentenced the sow to be hanged by her hind feet from a “gallows tree.” The piglets, by contrast, were exonerated. Continue reading…

Washington Post

Editorial. Health premiums for smokers should be tweaked. February 20, 2013.
When venerable anti-tobacco groups such as the American Cancer Society and cigarette makers such as Altria align in opposition to a policy, it’s got to be pretty bad, right? But, when it comes to whether health-insurance companies can charge higher premiums from smokers, the fact that these mortal enemies oppose the idea doesn’t mean policymakers should throw it out. Continue reading…

Editorial. Americans’ mental health. February 16, 2013.
With the Sandy Hook shootings still in the public mind, it seems as though every legislator, from the NRA-friendly to the anti-gun, is paying attention to mental health care in America. But lawmakers must also keep an eye on the bigger transformation of the country’s mental health system that is already in the works. Continue reading…

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