Tomlinson and De Vries: “Human Biospecimens Come from People”

Tom Tomlinson photoCenter Professor Dr. Tom Tominson and co-author Raymond De Vries have an article in the March-April 2019 issue of Ethics & Human Research, “Human Biospecimens Come from People.” The issue’s theme is “The Scientific Value and Validity of Research.”

Abstract: Contrary to the revised Common Rule, and contrary to the views of many bioethicists and researchers, we argue that broad consent should be sought for anticipated later research uses of deidentified biospecimens and health information collected during medical care. Individuals differ in the kinds of risk they find concerning and in their willingness to permit use of their biospecimens for future research. For this reason, asking their permission for unspecified research uses is a fundamental expression of respect for them as persons and should be done absent some compelling moral consideration to the contrary. We examine three moral considerations and argue that each of them fails: that there is a duty of easy rescue binding on all, that seeking consent creates a selection bias that undermines the validity of biospecimen research, and that seeking and documenting consent will be prohibitively expensive.

The full text is available online via Wiley Online Library (MSU Library or other institutional access may be required to view this article).

How do health care providers understand the social basis of conscience?

bbag-icon-decWhat people mean when they say “I can’t do that, it violates my conscience”

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“Conscience clause” legislation, first enacted following Roe v. Wade, intends to protect a health care provider’s (HCP) right to refuse services on the basis of conscience. And yet, 40 years later, the precise meaning of conscience is not well understood. When conscience is defined, it is in abstract, theoretical terms that are removed from the meaning of conscience in day-to-day practice. We use a sociological perspective to challenge this asocial depiction: while individuals act on their consciences, one’s conscience has a social basis. Using interviews with 61 care providers we identify the social basis of conscience and how health care providers understand it in their everyday practice, examining the conditions under which conscience is invoked in the process of deciding whether or not to perform a medical procedure. University of Michigan “conscience” research team collaborators: Lisa Harris, MD, PhD; Danielle Czarnecki, MA; Mercedes Dunn, BA; Katie Hauschildt, BA; Renee Anspach, PhD.

apr-15-bbagJoin us for Raymond De Vries’ lecture on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 from noon till 1 pm in person or online.

Raymond G. De Vries, PhD, is Professor and co-Director in the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine ( at the University of Michigan. He is the author of A Pleasing Birth: Midwifery and Maternity Care in the Netherlands (Temple University Press, 2005), and co-editor of The View from Here: Bioethics and the Social Sciences (Blackwell, 2007) and Qualitative Methods in Health Research (Sage, 2010). Dr. De Vries is co-editor of a special issue of Social Science and Medicine that examines how bioethics is shaped by social and cultural forces, and, together with Libby Bogdan-Lovis and Charlotte De Vries, co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Clinical Ethics on the ethics of choice of place of birth.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! View our archive of recorded lectures (over 30 lectures and counting!).

New article from Libby Bogdan-Lovis published in ATRIUM issue “Bad Girls”

bogdanlovis-crop-facElizabeth (Libby) Bogdan-Lovis and Raymond De Vries co-authored the article “The Baddest Births in Town” in Issue 12 (Winter 2014) of ATRIUM, the Report of the Northwestern Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program.

“… [W]hile all pregnant women walk the line between “good girls” (those who eat right, exercise, and put speakers on their bellies to let their future children listen to classical music) and “bad girls” (those smoking, drinking, soft cheese-eating ne’er-do-wells), the ultimate bad pregnant girls—the baddest of the bad—are those who decide to birth their babies at home, turning their backs on the “benefits” offered by hospital-based obstetric technology.”

Read “The Baddest Births in Town” in Issue 12: Bad Girls.

For more information on Bogdan-Lovis’ work in the areas of medicalized childbirth and evidence-based medicine, see her faculty profile.

NIH research grant awarded for project led by Tom Tomlinson and Raymond De Vries

tomlinsonTom Tomlinson, PhD, recently received a research grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH. Titled “Public Preferences for Addressing Donors’ Moral Concerns about Biobank Research,” the project is being led by Tomlinson and co-PI Raymond De Vries, PhD, of the University of Michigan.

To date, the dominant research ethics framework has focused on protecting research participants against the risks to their welfare that might be created by their participation in health research. This 3-year project is concerned with a different kind of “risk”—the risk that donated, de-identified biospecimens and health information might be used in research that is contrary to the donors’ moral, social or religious beliefs or values. How much do such concerns matter to people’s decisions whether to contribute specimens to research biobanks using a “blanket consent,” that gives one-time permission to use the contribution in any way the biobank deems acceptable? How should information about biobank-supported research projects be provided to potential donors? These and other questions will be answered using a nationally representative survey, coupled with a series of democratic deliberations that ask members of the public to develop recommendations for biobank policies regarding these issues. For more information, click here.

This project continues a line of research that Dr. Tomlinson began in 2010.