Jun 14 • 31M

Professor Larry Churchill Discusses "Bioethics Reenvisioned, A Path Toward Health Justice"

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David Introcaso, Ph.D.
Podcast interviews with health policy experts on timely subjects. The Healthcare Policy Podcast website features audio interviews with healthcare policy experts on timely topics. An online public forum routinely presenting expert healthcare policy analysis and comment is lacking. While other healthcare policy website programming exists, these typically present vested interest viewpoints or do not combine informed policy analysis with political insight or acumen. Since healthcare policy issues are typically complex, clear, reasoned, dispassionate discussion is required. These podcasts will attempt to fill this void. Among other topics this podcast will address: Implementation of the Affordable Care Act Other federal Medicare and state Medicaid health care issues Federal health care regulatory oversight, moreover CMS and the FDA Healthcare research Private sector healthcare delivery reforms including access, reimbursement and quality issues Public health issues including the social determinants of health Listeners are welcomed to share their program comments and suggest programming ideas. Comments made by the interviewees are strictly their own and do not represent those of their affiliated organization/s.
Episode details

Professor Larry R. Churchill, Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics at Vanderbilt, discusses “Biotethics Reenvisioned,” a just-published book he co-authored with Wake Forest Professor Nancy M. P. King and UNC Professor Gail E. Henderson. The authors, appropriately, argue “bioethics needs an expanded vision” or beyond one that has predominately focused on patient autonomy, beneficence and nonmaleficence.  The field needs to take “a more robust role” they write and begin to address upstream issues including social determinants, health disparities, structural racism, or in sum begin to meaningfully address social or distributive justice.  The field needs to move beyond what the authors’ term “lifeboat ethics” or “lifeboat framing” where issue beyond the bedside are largely if not completely ignored. The impetus for their thinking is largely, no surprise, the COVID pandemic that according the CDC has to date been responsible for 1.35 million excess deaths. 

During this 31-minute interview Professor Larry Churchill begins by defining “lifeboat ethics.” He discusses the harm or damage caused by the failure by the bioethics filed to address upstream justice issues resulting from social determinants, He briefly discusses scholars, e.g., Charles Taylor and Norman Daniels, who have productively commented on the social dimensions of justice and his sense of how their lifeboat framework criticism been received by the profession. We discuss at some length the book’s last and lengthiest chapter “Bioethics and the Global Warming Crisis” and what bioethicists working on issues of social justice can do to educate, improve public literacy and inform policy.

Larry R. Churchill is Professor of Medical Ethics Emeritus, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Prior to Professor Churchill taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was Chair of the Department of Social Medicine. Professor Churchill is a member of National Academy of Medicine and a Fellow of The Hastings Center. He is the author of seven books, including Ethics for Everyone: A Skills-Based Approach (2020, Oxford University Press). Churchill’s work has been featured in popular media such as USA Today, The New York Times, Bill Moyers’ Journal, and the Alex Gibney documentary Money-Driven Medicine.

Information on the book is at: https://uncpress.org/book/9781469671581/bioethics-reenvisioned/.