Public Bioethics Forums and Special Events

The Center regularly sponsors and hosts public and special events on timely topics in bioethics, with the goal of advancing understanding and collaboration on some of society’s most pressing ethical issues. Forums provide an opportunity for educators and students, faculty and clinicians, and local, national and global stakeholders to provide input, convene in conversation, and develop partnerships that advance the common good.

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Past Public Forums

  • Criminalizing the Emergency Room

    March 24, 2022

    For the poor, mentally ill, uninsured, homeless, and racial minorities, emergency rooms play a crucial "safety net" function. Yet even though the ER receives people at particularly vulnerable moments, courts do not sufficiently protect patients who come under law enforcement scrutiny. In this talk, Professor Song described how courts have viewed policing in the emergency room as an extension of street policing. In doing so, courts ignore the medical vulnerability of patients and undervalue medical professionals' duties to patients. As a result, a space where medical professionals are tasked to heal injured and sick people has become a site for policing and surveillance. This session was part of the Contemporary Issues in Health, Law, and Bioethics series hosted by Michele Bratcher Goodwin, SJD, LLM. Support provided by the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund at Harvard University.

    Watch the event recording on our YouTube channel here.

    Guest Speaker:
    Host:
    • Michele Bratcher Goodwin, SJD, LLM
      Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine Founding Director, Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice: The Supreme Court and Beyond

    March 10, 2022

    A conversation about the Supreme Court's blockbuster abortion decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, and what comes next if Roe v. Wade is reversed—legally, medically, and politically. This session was part of the Contemporary Issues in Health, Law, and Bioethics series hosted by Michele Bratcher Goodwin, SJD, LLM. Support provided by the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund at Harvard University.

    Watch the event recording on our YouTube channel here.

    Guest Speaker:
    • Mary Ziegler, JD
      Daniel P.S. Paul Visiting Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School
    Host:
    • Michele Bratcher Goodwin, SJD, LLM
      Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine Founding Director, Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • Ethical and Workforce Considerations in Abortion Care Provision

    February 24, 2022

    This session provided an overview of the ethical and workforce considerations that impact and influence abortion care provision. Conscientious provision and objection of abortion were discussed in addition to ambivalence and uncertainty with a specific focus on health service providers. This session was part of the Contemporary Issues in Health, Law, and Bioethics series hosted by Michele Bratcher Goodwin, SJD, LLM. Support provided by the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund at Harvard University.

    Watch the event recording on our YouTube channel here.

    Guest Speaker:
    • Monica McLemore, PhD, RN, FAAN
      Associate Professor, Family Health Care Nursing Department, University of California, San Francisco
      Clinician-Scientist, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health
      Member, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health
    Host:
    • Michele Bratcher Goodwin, SJD, LLM
      Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine Founding Director, Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • Recent Progress in iPS Cell Research and Application with Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD

    June 9, 2021

    Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka presented "Recent Progress in iPS Cell Research and Application" on June 9, 2021. This forum launched Harvard's Annual Bioethics Conference (ABC). The annual conference included access to this forum and two additional days of programming. Support provided by the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund at Harvard University. Please note, there is no video recording of this event available.

    In 2006, Shinya Yamanaka discovered that adult somatic cells can be reprogrammed into an embryonic-like pluripotent state by delivering transcription factors. These reprogrammed cells, known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, have the potential to develop into every cell type in the body and are invaluable tools for disease modeling, drug screening, and cell therapy. iPS cells also provide an unprecedented opportunity for discovery in life science, and in Yamanaka’s lab today, researchers continue to use them to investigate the mechanisms for cell fate determination, the reprogramming process, and pluripotency. Yamanaka is the 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

    Guest Speaker:
  • Changing the Record: How Bioethics Ought to Address Racism and Bias in Health Care and Beyond

    December 3, 2020

    Yolonda Yvette Wilson, PhD is a 2019-2020 fellow at the National Humanities Center and a 2019-2020 Encore Public Voices fellow. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests include bioethics, social and political philosophy, race theory, and feminist philosophy. She is broadly interested in the nature and limits of the state's obligations to rectify historic and continuing injustice, particularly in the realm of health care, and is developing an account of justice that articulates specific requirements for racial justice in health care at the end of life.

    Watch the event recording on our YouTube channel here.

    Guest Speaker:
  • Ethical Dilemmas in Mask and Equipment Shortages: Health Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    April 22, 2020

    Personal protective equipment or PPE has been a major topic of discussion across the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed major shortages of PPE and health care workers are being asked to take care of patients with what some would argue is inadequate protection. The guidelines set by the CDC have changed and recommendations have even gone so far as to approve bandannas as a means for respiratory protection. Some have argued that it is unethical for health care workers to not have adequate protection, while others think it's their duty, protected or not. Adding to this debate has been theft, hoarding and disparate distribution of these critical supplies. Panelists explored the ethics of PPE in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Watch the event recording on Petrie-Flom Center's YouTube channel here.

    Panelists:
    Moderator:
  • Making Bioethics More Inclusive

    September 10, 2020

    Justice is a foundational tenant in bioethics, yet the field of bioethics has not prioritized addressing structural racism and systemic inequalities deeply rooted in our system. The Center for Bioethics needs to lead the field in this movement toward equity in every aspect of human difference. Now is a crucial time for our community to direct our focus in affirming and building an anti-racist culture in our student and faculty recruiting, clinical care and consults, and in our research. This panel event—the first in a series of explorations—informed how the field of bioethics and the Center can better support anti-racism and health inequalities work and nurture diversity, and create practices of inclusion in the places we study, work, and teach in. Panelists shared their experiences and lead discussion about the work to be done at the Center and how our community can create a more just path forward. Please note, there is no video recording of this event available.

    Panelists:
    • LaShyra "Lash" Nolen, BS, HMS '23
    • Matthew Riley III, MBE '19, MDiv
    • Keona Wynne, MBE '20
    Moderator: