89 e-Letters

published between 2011 and 2014

  • Re:The evidence demand protection of children from circumcision.
    Stephen Moreton

    Case against circumcision overstated.

    In his eLetter George Hill asserts, of circumcision, that "The evidence of injury to the child's sexual function is now conclusive". However, this view is not supported by the literature he cites. He tells us that Podnar found that the penilo-cavernosus reflex is harder to elicit in circumcised men (or those with their foreskins retracted)1. So it is harder to elicit a co...

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  • Sloppy scholarship and the anti-circumcision crusade.
    Stephen Moreton

    By Stephen Moreton Ph.D.

    Whilst it is right and proper that the circumcision issue be debated, it is disturbing that many of those who oppose circumcision rely heavily upon selective literature citations, untested speculations about foreskin function, fear-mongering aimed at making circumcised males feel they have been sexually damaged, and denialism about the proven benefits of the procedure, while ignoring pub...

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  • The Health Hazards of Safety Legislation
    The paper by Hooper & Spicer and some of the responses to it raise an important debate about the hazards of safety legislation. It is wrong to assume that safety legislation will cause no harm and in line with principles of medical ethics public health professionals are obliged to take such harm into account. The first level of harm may arise when the legislation actually mandates an unsafe act because all the consequences of...
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  • American law does not support parental "right to circumcise".
    George Hill

    Dear Editor:

    The otherwise excellent paper by German law professors Merkel and Putze1 fails to sufficiently emphasize the prohibition against using Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) to support physical injury to a child in the name of religion.

    Then Chief Justice Burger wrote the majority opinion for the court and specifically exempted the case from application to physical harm. In his opinio...

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  • The evidence demand protection of children from circumcision.
    George Hill

    Dear Editor:

    Benetar argues:

    "If circumcision is a net benefit to a child, parents do not violate his rights to bodily integrity or self-determination by circumcising him. Careful attention to (the evidence for) the costs and benefits of circumcision to the child himself is thus essential."1

    The evidence of injury to the child's sexual func...

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  • Censorship of media and scholarly debates and avoiding collateral damage to public confidence in organ donation
    Michael Potts

    We read with great interest Daoust and Racine's contribution to the ongoing debate about brain death and its ethical and medical implications [1]. The authors argue that little is known about how the public understands the concept of death determined by neurological criteria (DNC). They set out to trace common sources of public confusion about DNC and seek to "better define the relationship between expert and lay views...

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  • Beyond the half-truths about placebos and placebo effects
    Pekka Louhiala

    We would like to thank Professor Stewart Justman for his thoughtful paper "Placebo: the lie that comes true", in which he highlights the often neglected deception in research on placebos and points out the potential harms related to half-truths or exaggerated claims about the "power of the placebo" (1). We agree strongly with his conclusion that "it is necessary to root the placebo effect in the attentive practice of me...

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  • Do Bioconservatives Really Have an "Untenable Ambiguity" Regarding Human Perfectibility?
    Jokim Schnoebbe
    For full disclosure, I should begin by saying that I read this paper because I am personally acquainted with one of the authors, Johann Roduit, with whom I had a brief exchange about the paper and who encouraged me to submit my few critical thoughts to this site. Also, I should say that I am not an expert in bioethics, but simply an interested layman.

    As a layman, I read the paper with pleasure. The thoughts were clearl...
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  • Re:"Ahsan v University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust" does not legitimize antemortem organ preservation in end-of-life care.
    John Coggon

    I am grateful for the response to my paper.

    For clarity's sake, however, I would like to point out in reply that I do not cite Ahsan to 'legitimize' any claim. Rather I present it as legal authority for a claim about legal principle. The principle is clear, though the respondents to my paper seem not to understand it quite.

    I would therefore emphasise that the idea of best interests applies to patients...

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  • What's wrong about "what makes killing wrong?"
    Joshua C. Briscoe

    In a recent article by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Franklin G. Miller, the argument is made that ability should be the metric of value among human life and thus the determining factor on what constitutes moral harm when killing. Someone who has permanently lost all abilities no longer has value and killing them would not only fail to add more harm and it would also fail to take away any more value.

    In the author...

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