Medical Ethics and Human Rights

17 Nov 2016
Author: Robert Precht

This morning I spoke to students at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem on the issue of medical ethics, drawing on recent controversies in China -- organ harvesting, head transplants, and forced abortions.

Students made many valuable points. Are medical ethics a variety of human rights? If medical ethics are not a species of human rights, where do they come from? As one student pointed out to me, the Latin derivation of ethics is "mores" or "customs." Are ethics no more than customs which may change over time?  Is the use of the bodies of executed Chinese prisoners for commerical displays unethical, a violation of human rights, both or neither?  

There are no easy answers. Below is the PowerPoint that was used as a springboard for the discussion.