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

    Forum Posts by
    Nancy Berlinger

    • Social-Change Games Can Help Us Understand the Public Health Choices We Face

      Posted on July 1, 2020

      Before there was the Covid-19 pandemic, there was Pandemic. This tabletop game, in which players collaborate to fight disease outbreaks, debuted in 2007. Expansions feature weaponized pathogens, historic pandemics, zoonotic diseases, and vaccine development races. Game mechanics modelled on pandemic vectors provide multiple narratives: battle, quest, detection, discovery. There is satisfaction in playing “against” disease–and winning. Real pandemic is not as tidy as a game. But can games support understanding about the societal challenges we now face? Yes.

    • Immigrants, Health Inequities, and Social Citizenship in Covid-19 Response and Recovery

      Posted on April 23, 2020

      The novel coronavirus pandemic has starkly revealed the vulnerabilities of low-wage immigrants, immigrant-led households, and immigrant communities to coronavirus infection, severe Covid-19 illness, and economic fallout from pandemic. This public health emergency compounds pre-existing social inequalities and resulting health inequities associated with immigrant status and immigration policy priorities. Structural barriers to health care access and… Read more

    • Immigrant Health in the Public Charge Era: 15 Essential Articles

      Posted on February 25, 2020

      The public charge rule went into effect nationwide yesterday, formalizing the “public charge era” that began when the draft rule was leaked three years ago. The rule jeopardizes eligibility for legal permanent residency if applicants are deemed public charges based on even short-term use of federally funded programs, such as health insurance, housing subsidies, or food stamps. Anticipation of the rule has had chilling effects on the behavior of immigrants, who have avoided or withdrawn from health-related programs for which they are eligible. What follows is a selected bibliography designed to support learning and progress on immigrant health in a complex policy environment.

    • Live-Tweeting About Dying: Last Lessons from Kathy Brandt

      Posted on August 6, 2019

      Kathy Brandt, a leader in the hospice and palliative care movement in the United States, died on August 4. She was 53 and had been diagnosed with a rare, highly aggressive form of ovarian cancer in January. Brandt and her wife regularly posted on social media about their family’s end-of-life experiences.

    • From Outcry to Solidarity with Migrants: What Is the Good We Can Do?

      Posted on June 26, 2019

      Another June. Another public outcry about cruelty as policy harming migrants in United States custody. This summer, the photo of a drowned family, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria, of El Salvador, shocks the conscience. Reporters are documenting the inhumane conditions in a Border Patrol facility where hundreds of children have been held. How should our field respond?

    • Forced from Home: Evicting Immigrants from Public Housing Harms Children’s Health

      Posted on May 16, 2019

      The federal government’s proposed rule to disqualify families from public housing if any member is undocumented will harm children, families, and cities.

    • Immigrant Health and the Moral Scandal of the “Public Charge” Rule

      Posted on August 24, 2018

      A long-anticipated policy change proposed by the Trump administration that would count the use of many federally-subsidized programs against immigrants currently eligible to use them threatens public health and would undermine ethical practice in health professions and systems. The policy would expand the definition of a public charge, someone likely to become dependent on government… Read more

    • Beyond Breaking News: Ways of Seeing Migrants and Their Children

      Posted on July 5, 2018

      Amid the volume of coverage and commentary on the politics of immigration and the consequences of crackdowns and criminalization, here is a selection of recent work – analysis, personal essay, fiction, mixed-media – that can spark the moral imagination.

    • Migrants’ Lives, Immigration Policy, and Ethics Work

      Posted on June 20, 2018

      The Russian poet Anna Akhmatova was a mother separated from her child by a state policy of terror. During the 1930s, she and other mothers would gather outside a Leningrad prison, desperate for information. One day, after 17 months of “waiting in prison queues,” another woman whispered to her, “‘Could one ever describe this?’ And… Read more

    • Shocking the Conscience: Justice Department versus the Health of Immigrant Women and Children

      Posted on June 12, 2018

      In April, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would criminally prosecute migrants who had been apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico. border. An immediate consequence of this announcement, explained in detail here, is the separation of children from their parents. Rather than being allowed to stay with their children in an immigrant detention center while… Read more

    • Gun Violence, Shame, and Social Change

      Posted on March 30, 2018

      The language of shame has been prominent in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. In a March 23 essay in The New Yorker, filmmaker A.J. Schnack, who in 2015 began a video project, “Speaking Is Difficult,” to document initial reports of mass shootings, wrote about Americans’ habits of… Read more

    • New Homeland Security Rules and Health Care Access for Undocumented Immigrants

      Posted on February 27, 2017

      On February 21, the Department of Homeland Security released new policies prioritizing deportation of undocumented immigrants. Will this policy shift affect health care access for this population of 11 million? Two public health studies from Arizona suggest that immigration crackdowns change health-seeking behavior. During and following the 2010 enactment of Arizona SB 1070, a highly controversial… Read more

    • Health Care Access for Undocumented Immigrants under the Trump Administration

      Posted on December 19, 2016

      Health care access is local; creating, financing, expanding, or restricting health care access for a low-income population involves local, state, and federal policies. During the Obama administration, health insurance for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States remained severely restricted by this population’s broad exclusion from federally financed public benefits such as Medicare,… Read more

    • Singapore Case Notes: In the Community, Who is Ethics Education For?

      Posted on March 22, 2016

      For previous posts on the Singapore Casebook project, a collaboration among the Centre for Biomedical Ethics at the National University of Singapore, The Hastings Center, and the Ethox Centre at the University of Oxford, see here and here .The first edition of this public, web-based casebook, “Making Difficult Decisions with Patients and Families,” was published… Read more

    • El agua no es potabo: Immigration and Public Health Policy in Flint

      Posted on February 17, 2016

      The public health catastrophe known as the Flint water crisis is also a textbook case about the consequences of immigration policy, including the federal stalemate concerning reform and state-level policymaking, on the health of undocumented immigrants living in this low-income city. This population is vulnerable under normal circumstances, as well as during public emergencies. They… Read more

    • The Supreme Court and Health Care Access for Undocumented Immigrants

      Posted on January 19, 2016

      The Supreme Court announced that it will hear a legal challenge to President Obama’s 2014 executive action to protect an estimated five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and permit them to work legally. The implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and an expansion of the Deferred Action for… Read more

    • Touching History

      Posted on June 24, 2013

      AIDS in New York: The First Five Years is an exhibit running this summer at The New-York Historical Society, an organization so venerable that its name reflects how the city’s name was originally spelled.  The exhibit works on several levels: historically, as a story about how one city and region awoke to the emerging epidemic; politically,… 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.