Cloning humans. Legalized euthanasia. Stem-cell research. Patient privacy in the IT age. These and other issues touching on bioethics have flooded the news in recent weeks, highlighting how far society has had to stretch its definition of moral values in the face of advancing technology. In all their variation, bioethics lie at the core of the medical profession. Here are a few online sites that can open the doors to discussion on this wide-ranging subject.
AMA's Ethics Standards page
This portion of the AMA's Web site is home to the Code of Ethics and discussions of ongoing ethical interest. A section of the page titled Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs links to the code itself. Another heading links to the Ethics Resource Center, which contains the "Virtual Mentor" section and a further link to a report on ethics for the delivery of healthcare by organizations. Other links include the Institute for Ethics, which conducts AMA research on ethical concerns, and the End-of-Life Care section, which provides a curriculum to teach doctors how to care for their dying patients.
This Web site, sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, provides a combination of educational material and expanded discussion on current topics of interest, like providing drugs for African AIDS patients. It contains a good, general introduction to bioethics. Current news is provided by links to The American Journal of Bioethics and MSNBC, and users can navigate to information on assisted suicide, cloning and a discussion on "Who Owns Life?" Admittedly elementary for practitioners, the site nevertheless provides good background for the layperson or student just getting involved in the topic.
American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics
The American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics maintains a Web site that serves as a membership forum and also as a portal to other sites that merge the disciplines of law and healthcare with ethics. The society publishes the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics and the American Journal of Law & Medicine, and its Web site has a similar scholarly bent toward providing policy input. It offers extensive information on the society's research projects, which include pain management and relief, as well as audio programs on genetics and end-of-life care. Links to other bioethics sites, as well as genetics and government sites, abound.