The Year in Bioethics That Was - 2015


Craig Klugman

Publish date

January 1, 2016

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Happy New Year. As has become a tradition at the blogs, the ending of one year and beginning of another is a time for reflection, for reviewing that year that has passed and planning for the year to come.

In 2015, is pleased to have had 18 bloggers contribute to our 99 posts. A very big thank you to these insightful scholars: Alison Bateman-House, Jennifer Blumenthal-Barby, Arthur Caplan, Nanette Elster, Joseph Fins, Bela Fishbeyn, Ellen Fox, Macey Henderson, Lisa Kearns, Jenna Lillemoe, Kayhan Parsi, Keisha Ray, Jeanie Sauderland, Charles Seife, Adil Shamoo, Christopher Thomas Scott, and Amanda Zink. Their insights, reporting, and reflection on the big topics and ideas of this past year helped enrich the bioethics conversation.

While most of our blogs are complex, covering multiple topics, for the purposes of looking at the themes in the 2014 blogs, each post was placed in only one category.

  • Politics/Policy/Law – 11 posts
  • Research Ethics – 9 posts
  • Public Health – 8 posts
  • Media – 8 posts
  • Medical Professionalism – 7 posts
  • End of Life – 6 posts
  • Bioethics Professionalism – 5 posts
  • Philosophy – 5 posts
  • Children – 4posts
  • Data Science – 4 posts
  • Transplants/Donations – 4 posts
  • Education – 4 posts
  • Sports – 3 posts
  • Clinical Ethics – 2 posts
  • Planned Parenthood – 2 posts
  • Torture/War – 2 posts
  • Genetics – 2 posts
  • Drugs/Pharma – 2 posts
  • Race/Discrimination – 2 posts
  • AJOB Editorial – 1 post
  • Beginning of Life – 1 post
  • Disability – 1 post
  • Guns – 1 post
  • Obituary – 1 post
  • Technology – 1 post
  • Parenthood – 1 post
  • Year in review – 1 post

In a year that saw the launch of the 2016 Presidential campaign it is no surprise that Politics/Policy/Law were the most popular topics. This is similar to 2013 though in 2014 end-of-life issues was number one, whereas that topic is 6th in 2015.

In last year’s 2014 wrap-up, I made several predictions as to what would be the hot issues in the following year. This included abortion, court and Congressional challenges to the Affordable Care Act and a focus on a right to health. I also said that minimum wage and guns ought to be on the agenda but that likely there would be little movement in these areas. Sadly, I turned out to be right with nearly as many gun shootings incidents as days of the year there is still no political will to take on this lethal issue. And although there have been many changes to the minimum wage such as $15 in some cities and protests across the country, data this year shows that the middle class is disappearing and the gap between wealthy and everyone else has widened. I also predicted a growth in fitness trackers, which I am proud to say I still do not own, but that seems to have been the number one gift for the 2015 holiday season.

Given that 2016 is a Presidential election year and that all but one candidate has said he would repeal the ACA, that issue will be discussed widely but not passed, yet. Tracking of our bodies will continue and grow. A Wall Street Journal article I read this week talked about the joys of tracking your ration of lean body mass to fat by large corporations bringing in vans to their campuses and making available x-ray scanning of people’s bodies. One quoted person in the piece said that he gets the scans every 2 months. This may be a year of advance care planning as the Medicare benefit kicks in and some health plans follow suit. The revised human subjects regulations will be released this year. Technology will go further this year with nanobots and human gene editing while issues of social justice are unfortunately little discussed.

This reflection and counting is hardly a scientific look at the major bioethics topics in the year. Topics are not assigned to bloggers and do not come from a random topic generator. This analysis reviews one blog site and thus shows more the interests of the bloggers, the stories that were in the public mind, and reports issued by government and professional agencies.

From all of the bloggers at, we wish you a happy and healthy new year.

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