Resource expenditure not resource allocation: response to McDougall on cloning and dignity.
Journal of Medical Ethics 2009 May; 35(5): 330-334
This paper offers some comments on bioethical debates about resource allocation in healthcare. It is stimulated by Rosalind McDougall's argument that it is an affront to the human dignity of people with below "liberties-level" health to fund human reproductive cloning. McDougall is right to underline the relevance of resource prioritisation to the ethics of research and provision of new biomedical technologies. This paper argues that bioethicists should be careful when offering comments about such issues. In particular, it emphasises the need to represent accurately the reality of the situation-especially when we are passing judgement on technologies that are in their infancy and whose practical application is yet to be confirmed. The paper also emphasises the importance of the actual context to bioethical debate, and note that it would be better to talk about resource expenditure rather than resource allocation when it comes to discussing the rights and wrongs of how money is spent. It also reiterates the claims made by other writers that social and political philosophy need to have a transparent and considered role in debates about resources.
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McDougall, R. (2008-04)The claim that human reproductive cloning constitutes an affront to human dignity became a familiar one in 1997 as policymakers and bioethicists responded to the announcement of the birth of Dolly the sheep. Various ...