Category Archives: Health Care

After a brief (Spring) break, the SLACE Archive has returned. The most recent episode of the BBC’s Moral Maze radio programme, lived up to its name–tackling the vexing issue of physician assisted suicide.

Here is a description of the show from the Moral Maze website:

There are few more emotive subjects than assisted dying. It captures both the hopes and the fears of the age in which we live. Advances in medical technology have been a triumph, extending our life expectancy almost exponentially. 33% of babies born today can expect to live to 100. 80 years ago the figure would have been less than 4%. But along with the undreamt of levels of longevity have come the nightmares of a lingering death; robbed of our humanity by the indignity and pain of diseases. The government has just announced that it will give MP’s a free vote on the latest legislative attempt to allow people to get help to die and campaigners believe that decision will give the bill a strong chance of becoming law. It will allow adults to ask a doctor to help them die if they’ve been given no more than six months to live. But it won’t go as far as some campaigners would like. Why is it morally acceptable to help someone to kill themselves if they’re already close to death, but not to help someone who might have many years of pain and suffering ahead of them? And if it’s right to allow adults assisted suicide, why not children? After all is it moral to expect them to endure the suffering we would not? At the heart of this issue is personal choice and moral agency – it’s my life and my death. But is the brutal truth that in almost every circumstance we already have that choice, it’s just that we want someone else to administer the coup de gras? Or is that point? Assisted dying – a very compassionate and humane answer to help people when they are at their most desperate or a law that will in reality help only a small number, but put many more vulnerable people at risk? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser.

Witnesses are Graham Winyard, Colin Harte, Gerlant van Berlaer and Ruth Dudley Edwards.

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March 18, 2014 · 5:46 pm

Obamacare: Answers and Explanations

With key parts of the Affordable Care Act going into effect  in less that two months, NPR’s Morning Edition answers some common questions about the Act. 

Here is a description of the segment: 

The Oct. 1 launch of the new health insurance exchanges is now less than two months away, and people are starting to pay attention to the changes these new marketplaces may bring to the nation’s health care system.

We know it’s confusing, so we’re spending part of the summer and fall answering at least some of your questions about the law. You can see earlier pieces in our series here and here.

Today we’re answering questions regarding two of the more frequent topics raised: student health plans and possible penalties for failing to obtain health insurance.

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August 24, 2013 · 8:53 am

Intelligence Squared Debate Retrospective: Health Care

The most r recent episode of NPR’s Intelligence Squared podcast featured a retrospective of its past debates relating to health care policy. 

Here is a description of the episode: 

Since 2006, Intelligence Squared US has been hosting debates on the most divisive issues facing America, and in that time, the country’s political landscape has changed dramatically. Yet, despite these political transformations, the country’s most hotly contested topics have remained the same. Among the most divisive is health care. For this health care retrospective, Intelligence Squared has mined its vast archive of debates and created a program that illuminates the key political and philosophical differences on each side.

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August 18, 2013 · 8:11 pm

Bioethicist and Her Quadriplegic Husband

Recently, Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross interviewed bioethicists Margaret Battin. Battin, a right to die advocate, now navigates the intersection between theory and practice has she attends to her quadriplegic husband.

Here is a description of the interview:

After writing books and essays about end-of-life issues, and advocating for the right to die, bioethicist Margaret Battin is wrestling with the issue in her own family. Her husband, Brooke Hopkins, an English professor at the University of Utah, where she also teaches, broke his neck in a bicycle accident in 2008, leaving him with quadriplegia and dependent on life support technology. In order to breathe, he requires a ventilator some of the time and a diaphragmatic pacer all the time. He receives his nutrition through a feeding tube.

Hopkins’ living will gives him the right to decline this technology, and although he’s chosen to keep living, there have been times he’s told his wife he wants to die, and she’s had to decide how literally to interpret his words.

In her academic life, Battin has also had to reflect on the positions she’s taken in the past to see if she still believes in them. She and her husband are in their early 70s. She’s a distinguished professor of philosophy and still teaches full time. When Hopkins is doing well, and not suffering from one of the many infections that have plagued him since the accident, he’s able to do some teaching from his home, talk with friends who come to visit, go in his wheelchair on walks with his wife and even occasionally get taken to a concert or museum.

Battin and Hopkins were profiled in the cover story of last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Battin tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross about what happened right after the accident, and the responsibility of deciding if someone is genuine in their wish to die.

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July 27, 2013 · 7:58 pm

What is Viability?

Radio Lab recently ran a story about a child that was born at 23 weeks and 6 days about halfway through a typical pregnancy.  Although this program isn’t explicitly about the abortion debate in the United States, I have included it because I believes it has implications in the debate. Here is a description of the story: 

When Kelley Benham and her husband Tom French finally got pregnant, after many attempts and a good deal of technological help, everything was perfect. Until it wasn’t. Their story raises questions that, until recently, no parent had to face… and that are still nearly impossible to answer.


This hour, we spend the entire episode on the story of Kelley and Tom, whose daughter was born at 23 weeks and 6 days, roughly halfway to full term. Their story contains an entire universe of questions about the lines between life and death, reflex and will, and the confusing tug of war between two basic moral touchstones: doing no harm…and doing everything in our power to help. Kelley has written about her experience in a brilliant series of articles in the Tampa Bay Times.

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May 16, 2013 · 11:36 am

“When Contraception Was a Crime”

Constitutional Law Professor Geoffrey Stone (University of Chicago) discusses the history of the legal battles in the US regarding contraception.  The talk lasts 58:04 minutes. However, Professor Stone’s lecture runs approximately 30 minutes (the rest being questions from the audience) and was part of the Chicago’s Best Ideas lecture series.


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March 31, 2013 · 11:49 pm

Should Genetically Engineered Babies Be Banned?

That was the proposition being debated Intelligence Squared (approximately 50 minutes). Sheldon Krimsky (Professor, Tufts University and Chair, Council for Responsible Genetics) and Lord Robert Winston (Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor, Fertility Studies, Imperial College) argue for prohibition, Dr. Nita Farahany (Professor of Law and Philosophy and Professor of Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University) and Lee Silver (Professor, Princeton University and Author) argue against it. 

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March 24, 2013 · 7:54 pm