When the news of Freddie Gray’s death became public, I was greeted by a surprising but familiar bioethical silence. Surprising because I thought that the relationship between Freddie Gray’s death and bioethics was rather obvious: here was a man who requested health care numerous times but was refused it — the justification being that he was a criminal and either faking his pain or self-inflicting it. While there are likely numerous reasons why Freddie Gray died, do bystanders have moral responsibilities when they witness an injured person? There’s often debate about whether a bystander has a moral responsibility to intervene. However, as public servants, police officers surely have some ethical responsibility to ensure that even criminals receive medical treatment when badly injured.
It is ethically troubling that individuals charged with protecting the public ignored a man who was begging for and needed immediate medical treatment. The dimensions of the situation also intrigued me: even incarcerated individuals are entitled to receive “adequate” healthcare, so on what moral grounds does a police officer stand when he/she ignores the cries for treatment of someone who has been seriously injured? While other aspects of the case concern me, these were questions I was able to ask purely as a student of bioethics— questions I thought bioethicists should have opinions about and be interested in discussing. Yet, while bioethicists have had no issue condemning genetic experimentation they seem to sew their mouths shut on the matter of black lives.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Bioethical Silence & Black Lives