Policy & Ethics

Oregon’s Measure 110, which decriminalized drug use and ramped up harm reduction, took effect in 2021 at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. After barely giving it a chance to have any effect, lawmakers got cold feet and decided to return to the tried – and failed – approach that has made the war on drugs America’s longest and most disastrous war.
In this segment, we seek answers for ethical quandaries posed by Pre-Natal Genetic Testing (which of necessity involves use of IVF) from legal doctrine, exploring the procedures’ impact on individual choices, informed consent, and the ownership of genetic information.
NPR recently lost its nerve over the realization that some men are giving up internet porn, fearing this "masturbation abstinence" trend is a gateway to radical right-wing politics. The media should be more interested in the potentially serious health impacts of porn itself.
The sci-fi world of Gattaca promised parents the option of selecting genetically bespoke children. Now you can buy a menu of tests prophesing your kids’ health risks – even before the embryo is implanted. Soon, we can expect tests for brains, brawn, and beauty. How do we even make that decision?
Two federal courts have ruled that the Biden Administration unduly influenced social media moderation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some public health and legal experts have argued that these efforts were necessary and did not constitute censorship. They are downplaying the extent of the government's efforts and overlooking their serious consequences.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will determine the extent of permissible federal interactions with private-party decision-making – namely, by social media platforms. The issue is portrayed as a clash between First Amendment rights and public health. This is not a new conundrum, but the involvement of social media is upping the ante. Further complicating the issue is the fact that the platforms acquiesced and voluntarily cooperated with governmental involvement, and while they are the object of the federal “incursions,” the social media platforms are not the aggrieved parties in the case.
In a world grappling with the complexities of climate change, while a majority (85%) believe it exists, words – especially doom and gloom on social media – speak louder than actions. A study sheds light on the challenges of bridging the gap between what we believe and how we act.
The EPA recently announced stronger standards for fine particulate matter, described as reducing pollution by airborne "soot." However, an examination of its supporting documentation reveals a lack of focus on particulate composition, neglect of actual exposures – as well as no mention of any health effects of soot. Here we explore the implications of these shortcomings.
With rare exceptions, the right to free speech is exceptionally broad. Exceptions focus on imminent and irremediable harm, like shouting fire in a crowded theater or child pornography. You are even allowed to lie – as long as no one’s reputation is injured. But what if the feds want to constrain those attacking government actions because those attacks are dangerous and endanger public health? The Fifth Circuit said no go. The Supreme Court weighs in this March.
Oregonians are having second thoughts about their decision to decriminalize drugs three years ago. They blame it for the state’s recent rise in overdose deaths. But a closer look at the data shows that Oregon has fared no worse than other states did when the fentanyl wave breached its borders.
Drug development can be hazardous. Recently, a California court held that product users could sue the drug manufacturer, Gilead, for negligence in failing to commercialize a product different from the one they used. Two conditions are yet to be proven to sustain their claim: that Gilead had actual knowledge the new product was safer and that the decision was solely financially driven. But, even if those facts are proven, they are still not enough to sustain a lawsuit.
Lawmakers think they can stem the flow of illicit fentanyl and its analogs into our country by seizing the assets of organizations trafficking the drug and its precursors. If that approach worked, organized crime would be a relic of the past. What they don’t understand is that even worse, that approach may make the nitazene crisis arrive ahead of schedule.