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Response to Mary Rowell
  1. F Baylis
  1. Correspondence to:
 F Baylis
 Department of Bioethics and Department of Philosophy; Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4H7; Francoise.BaylisDal.Ca

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In responding to Ms Rowell’s commentary on her original paper the author points out that the job of all bioethicists, namely, speaking truth to power, is a daunting task which is unlikely to succeed “if we do not learn to ask for and to accept, to offer and to provide, moral support and meaningful help.”

In my article “The Olivieri debacle: where were the heroes of bioethics?”1 I make four comments about Ms Rowell’s involvement in the case. In my first comment relating to Ms Rowell, I suggest that a careful reader of the Naimark report could reasonably conclude “that the role of bioethics in helping to resolve the controversy was, at best, very limited”. In reaching this conclusion, I relied on the findings of the two official reports/inquiries about this case. Though the two reports reach different conclusions about the case, there appears to be agreement on the very limited role of bioethics. As noted in my original article, in the 160 page Naimark report there are but a few paragraphs about bioethics and Ms Rowell’s role in the Olivieri case. This is surprising, and I say as much in my article. In the 540 page report of the Committee of Inquiry, which Ms Rowell describes as “a review that I believe to provide a public report of integrity”, little more detail is provided regarding Ms Rowell’s role. I included all references to Ms Rowell from the first report in the original article. I did not do so with the second report. This was not done to diminish any contribution(s) Ms Rowell might have made. In my view, no new evidence germane to the points I wanted to make was provided in the text that I did not include in my article.

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