Is mandatory vaccination ethically justifiable?

Yes — the flow-on harms are too great.

MercatorNet

Margaret Somerville

Is mandatory vaccination ethically justifiable?

What ethical issues do mandatory interventions to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus raise — in particular, mandatory vaccination? Asked another way, what weight should be given to the arguments of “anti-vaxxers” who oppose mandatory vaccination?

I am not addressing here “involuntary vaccination” — namely, rounding up people and vaccinating them against their will, although in highly dangerous infectious disease situations, Public Health authorities can have powers to impose treatment. Rather, I am focussed on what could be described as “non-voluntary vaccination”, the person can avoid vaccination, but only by making a choice they do not want to make. . . continue reading

Submission to the World Medical Association

Public Consultation on a draft devised version of the International Code of Medical Ethics

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is the oldest national bioethics centre in the United Kingdom, established in 1977 by the Roman Catholic Archbishops of England and Wales. It was originally known as The Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics and was situated in London before moving to Oxford. The Centre engages with the moral questions arising in clinical practice and biomedical research. It brings to bear on those questions principles of natural law, virtue ethics, and the teaching of the Catholic Church, and seeks to develop the implications of that teaching for emerging fields of practice. The Centre engages in scholarly dialogue with academics and practitioners of other traditions. It contributes to public policy debates as well as to debates and consultations within the Church.

A key issue: conscientious objection

For the first time this draft Code introduces the idea of “conscientious objection”:

Paragraph 27 reads:

Physicians have an ethical obligation to minimise disruption to patient care. Conscientious objection must only be considered if the individual patient is not discriminated against or disadvantaged, the patient’s health is not endangered, and undelayed continuity of care is ensured through effective and timely referral to another qualified physician.*

* This paragraph will be debated in greater detail at the WMA’s dedicated conference on the subject of conscientious objection in 2021 or 2022. However, comments on this paragraph are also welcome at this time.

Unfortunately, this is deeply problematic as a statement of the rights of conscience in medicine. In the first place it utterly fails to establish the duty of doctors to object to practices and procedures that are unconscionable because harmful, discriminatory, unjust or unethical. The right to conscientious objection is based on the duty to be conscientious which is fundamental to medical ethics. . . continue reading

Comment on the draft International Code of Medical Ethics of the World Medical Association

European Institute of Bioethics

In the context of the International Code of Medical Ethics’ revision, the European Institute of Bioethics (EIB) would like to share some comments with the World Medical Association (WMA) Assembly on paragraph 27 of the draft.

Since 2001, the European Institute of Bioethics has developed an expertise in healthcare ethics, with a special focus on the right of healthcare practitioners to freedom of conscience in their practice.

We acknowledge that the International Code of Medical Ethics (hereafter: the Code) is not a binding instrument for the WMA member states. However, one cannot deny the considerable influence the Code may have on national codes of deontology and even on national laws. Moreover, physicians and healthcare organizations expect from the WMA to promote the highest quality of healthcare relationship between physicians and patients.

Paragraph 27 of the Code is drafted as follows:

Physicians have an ethical obligation to minimise disruption to patient care. Conscientious objection must only be considered if the individual patient is not discriminated against or disadvantaged, the patient’s health is not endangered, and undelayed continuity of care is ensured through effective and timely referral to another qualified physician.

In the following note, we discuss one by one the different parts of this paragraph which we consider, written as such, highly problematic for the physicians’ rights and the patients’ care. . . continue reading

Lack of evidence-based medicine in debate around new MAID law should concern Canadians

CBC News

Dr. Mark Sinyor

I recently had the privilege of testifying before the Senate of Canada in their deliberations about medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation. The specific question before them was whether to allow the practice as a treatment for mental illness, which the Senate voted to recommend following an 18-month “sunset clause,” and the House of Commons says it would support with a two-year phase-in.

I have no personal objection to MAID in principle. But as a doctor and a psychiatrist who believes in evidence-based medicine, I found both the hearing and the result horrifying.

Bill C-7 would extend MAID to those experiencing intolerable suffering and who are not approaching the natural end of their lives, including those with mental illness. . . [Full text]

Is the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Unethical?

Russell Moore

After half a million of our fellow Americans have died to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country seems almost right on the verge of hope. Vaccines were developed with record-setting speed, and have proven both safe and effective. After the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been on the field now for a while, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just authorized a third—by pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. This vaccine has made news—both in terms of the images of trucks headed for parcel distribution hubs for delivery and, less noticed, a denunciation from the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, later joined by the Catholic bishops nationwide, arguing that Catholics, when possible, should take one of the first two vaccines but not the Johnson & Johnson version because, they argue, it is linked to cloned stem cells derived from abortions that took place decades ago. . .

Some have wondered, seeing these headlines, whether taking a COVID-19 vaccine would cause them to be involved, somehow, in abortion or embryonic stem-cell research or in any way the taking of a human life. . . continue reading