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Honoring Our Heroines

In celebration of Mother’s Day 2008, The Women’s Bioethics Project is pleased to honor six outstanding women who have played an important role in establishing the field of bioethics and ensuring that it account for the perspectives, needs, and concerns of women. Their ground-breaking work in the areas of law, medicine, sociology, and philosophy continues to enrich the field of bioethics – we express our awe and gratitude. To honor their legacy, we are awarding six ASBH membership scholarships to part-time or full-time graduates students studying bioethics.

Thank you to all those who submitted nominations for this year’s program—it wasn’t easy to narrow the field. We are establishing this as an annual event, and we look forward to bringing you news of more wonderful accomplishments by women in bioethics.

We are pleased to recognize the following distinguished scholars:

Margaret Pabst Battin, MFA, PhD, is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, and holds an MFA in fiction-writing and a PhD in philosophy from the University of California at Irvine. Dr. Battin has authored, edited, or co-edited no fewer than fifteen books, among them a study of philosophical issues in suicide; a collection on age-rationing of medical care; and a collection of her essays on end-of-life issues, entitled The Least Worst Death. Like many of us, Dr. Battin wears many hats. In addition to being a leading bioethics scholar, she is an accomplished fiction writer and teacher:  in 2000, she was a co-recipient of the Rosenblatt Prize, the University of Utah’s most prestigious award, and was named Distinguished Honors Professor in 2002-03. She is currently at work on a historical sourcebook on ethical issues in suicide, a book on world population growth and reproductive rights, and two multiauthored projects, Drugs and Justice: Seeking a Consistent, Coherent, Comprehensive View, and The Patient as Victim and Vector: Ethics and Infectious Disease, both being published by Oxford University Press.

Rebecca Cook, JD, JSD holds the Faculty Chair in International Human Rights, the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. She is ethical and legal issues co-editor of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and serves on the editorial advisory boards of Human Rights Quarterly and Reproductive Health Matters. Updates to her most recent book written with B.M. Dickens and M.F. Fathalla, Reproductive Health and Human Rights: Integrating Medicine, Ethics and Law (Oxford, 2003) (translated into Chinese, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, and forthcoming in Arabic) are available at www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty/cook/ReproductiveHealth.html.We asked Dr. Cook if there were any thoughts she’d like to share with our readers, and she told us, “I look forward to a Mother’s Day when all women can survive pregnancy and childbirth.” A worthy hope, and certainly one we all can share.

Ruth Faden, MPH, PhD is Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics and Executive Director of The Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. She is also a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University. Dr. Faden is a member of the Institute of Medicine, a Fellow of the Hastings Center, and a fellow of the American Psychological Association. She has served on numerous national advisory bodies and was chair of the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. Her current research interests include bioethics and public policy; ethics and cellular engineering; ethics and neuroscience; ethics and bioterrorism; ethics, genetics and public policy; research ethics; and justice. Dr. Faden is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on biomedical ethics and health policy including A History and Theory of Informed Consent (with Tom L. Beauchamp), AIDS, Women and the Next Generation (co-edited with Gail Geller and Madison Powers), HIV, AIDS and Childbearing: Public Policy, Private Lives (co-edited with Ruth Faden and Nancy Kass).

Patricia King, JD is Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Medicine, Ethics, and Public Policy, Georgetown University and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. A former Deputy Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Special Assistant to the Chairman of the EEOC, Dr. King came to bioethics from the civil rights movement. She has since made important contributions across the fields of law, medicine, ethics, and public policy. Dr. King is the coauthor of Cases and Materials on Law, Science and Medicine and is a member of the American Law Institute, a member of the Institute of Medicine, and a fellow of the Hastings Center. Her public service has included involvement in the HEW-Advisory Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, the President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, and the Ethics, Legal and Social Issues Working Group of the Human Genome Project. She is the current vice chair of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and a former vice chair of the Russell Sage Foundation.

Ruth Macklin, PhD is Professor and Division Head of Bioethics in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Her work in research ethics has been foundational, and her more recent work in international ethics is breaking important new ground. In addition, Dr. Macklin has written about ethics in reproductive health, ethical aspects of research and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and human rights. She has served on many national bioethics panels on issues ranging from recombinant DNA research to HIV/AIDS. Dr. Macklin is an adviser to the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), an elected member of the Institute of Medicine, and past president of the International Association of Bioethics. Among her many books are Double Standards in Medical Research in Developing Countries (2004), Against Relativism: Cultural Diversity and the Search for Ethical Universals in Medicine (1999), and Surrogates and Other Mothers: The Debates over Assisted Reproduction (1994).

Who better to honor on Mother’s Day than Barbara Katz Rothman, PhD? Dr. Rothman is Professor of Sociology at City University of New York. She is the author of In Labor: Women and Power in the Birthplace (1982), a study that helped launch a strong challenge against the medicalization of childbirth and women’s bodily experiences. A later book, The Tentative Pregnancy (1986), focused on how amniocentesis changes the experience of motherhood. Dr. Rothman’s most recent work focuses on race, gender, and families. She says, “As a sociologist who has been in the world of reproductive issues for over 30 years, what I find so sad is that the reproductive communism I looked forward to in my youth—sharing eggs and sperm and pregnancies in communal families—has turned into a reproductive capitalism, with wealthier people buying the ‘services’ and the children of others all over the world.  Familial communism turned to global capitalism in my lifetime.”
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