A Letter To A Bioethicist



Dear Sir,

What is it about bioethics that keeps me coming back for more?  It continues to emerge as something that I feel compelled to explore so that I may understand it better.   If often surfaces as something I wish to apply to a situation that seems unresolved or incomplete, to a process or to life choices which I think I could do better.  It is something of which I consider returning to academia in order to dig deeper.  It feels that it is the answer to my question: “what next?”   I notice it often, because it’s not even there.

Perhaps the best place to start is to truncate the word to “ethics”.

In my experience as a participant in making recommendations for which drug therapies should be listed on the formulary for the Ontario Public Drug Program (which is accessed by persons living with a disability and by seniors) I believe ethics  should be the touchstone which guided the committee through the deliberative dialogue, which was often neither deliberative, not dialogue.  Nevertheless, we were in command of making difficult decisions on how to utilize public dollars.

I believe a meaningful inclusion of ethics should be included in decision making and policy making regarding access to any element of health care.

I also believe that the priority of a publicly funded healthcare system should be to protect the vulnerable.  By allowing the social determinants of health to guide health care policy in order to promote wellness where it is less likely to be, then I am confident that the public would achieve the greatest net benefit in improving population health.  I think there is a link between the social determinants of health and ethics.

From my personal experience, when I didn’t have food, I didn’t have access to health benefits because of an administrative error, I believe that ethics should have overridden the hierarchy of signatures and dignity should have been restored immediately.

Ethics, it seems I notice it most when it’s not there.

To me, ethics should be the thread that weaves all things together.

Yours sincerely,

Harlon Davey


3 thoughts on “A Letter To A Bioethicist

    • I think that would make for a fascinating exercise. I remember when I was in Junior School, my favourite course (but probably the hardest to teach) was French Class. Perhaps it is the philosophical nature of the French or the fact that since it was a foreign language that it created a sort of buffer between the words we were trying to use and the thoughts we were trying to capture. I remember we took on heavy topics like capital punishment, abortion, nuclear power. It was a great way to learn because we weren’t being marked on our competency of the subject but our willingness to try to express ourselves. I have been asking myself what are “ethics” and wonder if I have waded into dark waters, but I think it would be exciting to talk about ethics. What are they? It could be a provocative and fascinating discussion, to think about right and wrong without the context of the state of the church. If you do decide to launch a discussion, let me know how it goes. Oh how I would love to be a fly on the wall! Thanks for your comment and for the encouragement to continue to explore “ethics”.


      • It would be a different topic for younger people to talk about, perhaps I will wait for that elusive captive audience before I launch into the debate.
        Ethics is well worth exploring and emphasizing

        You are welcome


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