Manipulating Fate: Medical Innovations, Ethical Implications, Theatrical Illuminations

78 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2012 Last revised: 24 Feb 2014

Karen H. Rothenberg

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Lynn Wein Bush

Columbia University Medical Center, Center for Bioethics

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Transformative innovations in medicine and their ethical complexities create frequent confusion and misinterpretation that color the imagination. Placed in historical context, theatre provides a framework to reflect upon how the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging technologies evolve over time and how attempts to control fate through medical science have shaped -- and been shaped by -- personal and professional relationships. The drama of these human interactions is powerful and has the potential to generate fear, create hope, transform identity, and inspire empathy -- a vivid source to observe the complex implications of translating research into clinical practice through the lens of other individuals.

As the scientific landscape shifts at an ever increasing pace, it becomes even more essential to search for creative approaches to better understand the issues and to place them in historical and societal context. This article is structured in the format of a play with six Acts representing the evolution of societal issues raised by attempts to manipulate fate by advances in medical science. Excerpts from forty-six plays are integrated chronologically to reflect the ethical and legal context of their era -- and the analysis of the themes that reoccur over the centuries. Even though the power of technology continues to increase dramatically, raising more ethical implications, the urge to use medical innovations to manipulate our fate and those of others remains constant.

This article is part of a broader bioethical and legal research project to stimulate interdisciplinary discourse on the implications of emerging medical technologies and to enhance the health policy process.

Keywords: genomics, bioethics, medical humanities, medical education, science & technology, ELSI, health law & policy, genetics, AIDS, infectious disease, psychology, psychiatry, neurology, history of medicine, history of science, medical technology, plays, vignettes, theatre

Suggested Citation

Rothenberg, Karen H. and Bush, Lynn Wein, Manipulating Fate: Medical Innovations, Ethical Implications, Theatrical Illuminations (2012). Houston Journal of Health Law and Policy, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2012; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-70. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2180999

Karen H. Rothenberg (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

Lynn Wein Bush

Columbia University Medical Center, Center for Bioethics ( email )

College of Physicians and Surgeons
630 West 168th Street, 3rd Floor, Suite 3-470
New York, NY 10032
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
79
Rank
254,279
Abstract Views
781