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Lectures to Address Medical Ethics Issues

October 29, 1996|JASON TERADA

The ethical issues raised by new medical developments for conceiving babies, and the role of personal responsibility in the rationing of health-care resources will be the focus of two public lectures at Cal Lutheran University on Monday.

The free lectures, in Cal Lutheran's Samuelson Chapel, 60 W. Olsen Road, will be presented by Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Both presentations comprise the university's 12th annual Harold Stoner Clark Lecture Series.

Caplan has published 19 books and more than 350 articles and reviews on the subject of medical ethics. He is also a member of the president's commission on Gulf War illnesses.

The first lecture, titled "Making Babies," at 10 a.m., will discuss the moral and legal climate for assisted reproduction in the United States.

Caplan believes that recent scandals involving in vitro fertilization and other methods to assist couples in conceiving children could give rise to a social backlash if steps are not taken to make doctors more accountable for their actions.

Caplan will offer different perspectives on balancing the development and use of new technologies for conceiving babies with the rights, dignity and interests of patients undergoing treatment for fertility problems and children created with medical assistance.

At 8 p.m., Caplan will discuss whether one's behavior, lifestyle and bad habits should affect access to scarce medical resources, such as donor organs, during a lecture titled "Sinners, Saints and Health Care."

Caplan believes that celebrities, such as Mickey Mantle, who are able to quickly get liver or other organ transplants despite decades of alcohol or drug abuse, while others are left waiting for years, bring on questions about the wisdom and fairness of the health-care system.

Caplan, focusing on recent disputes over the distribution of donor organs, and other issues, such as prison inmates' free access to better health care, will illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of using personal behavior as a factor for determining who gets medical treatment.

The lectures are sponsored by Amgen and the philosophy department at Cal Lutheran.

For more information, call Eloise Cohen at (805) 495-4470 or Xiang Chen at (805) 493-3235.

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