There has been considerable work in bioethics addressing injustice and gender oppression in the provision of healthcare services, in the interaction between client and healthcare professional, and in allocation of healthcare services within a particular hospital or health service. There remain several sites of continued injustice that can only be addressed adequately from a broader analytical perspective, one that attends to the social and political contexts framing healthcare policy and practice. Feminist bioethicists have a strong track record in providing this kind of analysis. Using current Australian aged care and welfare policy this paper demonstrates some of the ways in which issues of gender, age, and social inequity shape bioethical debate, policy, and practice in the areas of aged care and welfare provision. The author develops an argument that demonstrates the gender injustice underlying health care and welfare policy. This argument recognises the inevitability of human dependency relations, and questions the adequacy of current political theories to address the requirements for full and equal citizenship. The author shows that an adequate analysis of the ethics of aged healthcare depends on sufficient consideration of the social and political context within which healthcare policy is framed and an adequate understanding of human dependency.
- aged care
- feminist bioethics
- social policy ethics
- health and welfare service provision
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Research for this paper was supported in part by funds from the Institute of Social Change and Critical Inquiry.
Competing interests: none