COVID-19 raises urgent ethical issues for each of us. Our experts shape real-time responses.

    Forum Posts by
    Dena S. Davis

    • Before We Turn to Digital Contact Tracing for Covid, Remember Surveillance in the Sixties

      Posted on July 10, 2020

      Is it unrealistic to believe that phone apps for digital Covid contact tracing can be designed and regulated in ways that prevent the information they collect from being misused? It’s worth remembering surveillance of Vietnam War protesters and Martin Luther King Jr.

    • CRISPR in China: Why Did the Parents Give Consent?

      Posted on December 7, 2018

      The global scientific community has been unanimous in condemning Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who announced last week that he used the gene-editing technology called CRISPR to make permanent, heritable changes to the genes of two baby girls who were born this month in China. Criticism has focused on Dr. He’s violation of worldwide acknowledgement that… Read more

    • Avoiding Dementia, Causing Moral Distress

      Posted on September 3, 2018

      In “Avoiding Deep Dementia,” an essay in the current issue of the Hastings Center Report, legal scholar Norman Cantor explains why he has an advance directive that calls  for voluntary stopping of eating and drinking as a means of ending his life if he develops dementia and reaches a particular state of decline. Cantor’s essay… Read more

    • Being Poor Is a Full-Time Job

      Posted on March 14, 2018

      An article in the Hastings Center Report asks whether it is ethical to ration health care by inconvenience and red tape. In other words, given that all societies must ration health care in one way or another, is it ever ethical to push people away from an unpreferred health care option by making it more… Read more

    • Neil Gorsuch, Aid in Dying, and Roe v. Wade

      Posted on March 24, 2017

      Given the chance, would Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch vote to overturn Roe v Wade? Challenge state “death with dignity” laws?

    • Vaccine Exemptions and the Church-State Problem

      Posted on February 23, 2015

      The current measles outbreak has brought public attention to the ease with which vaccine exemptions are available. As the media continually inform us, 48 states allow for religious exemptions, while 19 states also offer exemptions based on some sort of personal philosophy. The New York Times featured a snarky column by Ginia Belafonte dismissing most religious… Read more

    • Two Cheers for Choosing Wisely

      Posted on December 18, 2014

      The Choosing Wisely campaign is one of the most exciting experiments in health care in quite a while. If it lives up to its potential, Choosing Wisely could prevent some of the harm caused by unnecessary tests and treatments, while helping to bring down medical costs. But the real challenge to the campaign is whether it actually… Read more

    • How Brittany Maynard Changed the Conversation about Aid in Dying

      Posted on December 1, 2014

      Brittany Maynard, the courageous 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer, ended her life a month ago today. She and her husband had moved to Oregon so that Maynard could take advantage of that’s state’s Death with Dignity law. Although Maynard fit squarely into Oregon’s criteria and her death was not controversial, it did change the conversation… Read more

    • A Blood Test to Predict Alzheimer’s Disease: What’s the Elephant in the Room?

      Posted on April 7, 2014

      I recently gave a talk about Alzheimer’s disease and asked people to imagine two individuals, Manny and Sue. Manny died at 85; he was showing signs of age but living independently and was mentally “all there.” Sue lived until 99. From the time she was 88, she began a slow cognitive decline. By 93, she… Read more

    • Ritual Circumcision: Ban Metzitzah b’peh

      Posted on September 5, 2012

      Male newborn circumcision has been much in the news of late. In Germany, the procedure was criminalized in the Cologne Regional Court, and on August 21 the firstmohel(Jewish traditional practitioner) was charged with the offense. In Denmark, the prime minister initiated an investigation into whether the procedure violates the health code. A Swedish law requires that a medical… Read more

    The Hastings Center has never shied away from the toughest ethical challenges faced by society.


    The Hastings Center has never shied away from the toughest ethical challenges faced by society.