Course: Health Ethics

January 2016. Health and medicine lie at the intersection of thea/ologies, morals, and our bodies. This course draws from theological, philosophical, and sociological perspectives to examine the foundations of bioethics and the complexities of health, illness and health care. Through analyzing ethical principles, moral questions and clinical cases, the course will address key issues in bioethics, such as death and dying, access to health care, medical research, reproductive justice, and social movements for health. Special attention will be paid to cutting edge discussions of social determinants of health and the perspectives of historically marginalized communities. Through this interactive course that maximizes the use of exciting web and multimedia resources, religious leaders and scholars will equip themselves with the biopolitical knowledge and skills to reflect on the sacred–and the controversial–with their faith communities.

A live, in-person or web-based, seminar, in which we:

  • center the perspectives of historically marginalized people;
  • disrupt the boundaries of ethics and ministry;
  • redefine and define again the multiple terms of “life or death” issues;
  • build supportive community of religious leaders concerned about health, illness, and bodies
  • connect bioethics to public ministry, social movements for health, and what we value

This course is offered through Starr King School for the Ministry, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

Conference Paper: “‘The Story Can Be Told Another Way:’ The Contributions of Womanist Ethics to…Bioethics”

On Monday, March 28, 2011, I presented a paper on the Womanist/Pan-African section’s panel at WECSOR, entitled “New Womanist, Religious and Theological Lenses in the Study of the African Diaspora,” in Whittier, California.  My paper will be one of three on the panel and is entitled: “‘The Story Can Be Told Another Way:’ The Contributions of Womanist Ethics to the Principle of Respect for Autonomy in Bioethics.” The paper presentation represents a project very much in-progress.

I enter the dialogue between womanist ethics and bioethics through a very recent and very public example of the intersection of race, health and ethics: the ant-choice billboard campaign protesting Planned Parenthood: “The Most Dangerous Place for an African American is in the Womb.”  In many ways, this destructive ad campaign, which has been featured in Illinois, Texas, Florida and NY, represents the need for bioethics to be responsive to womanist theo-ethical lenses in new ways: invoking the African American woman’s womb as a place of danger has an unsettling history to say the least. Where is the principle of respect for autonomy and its underlying framework for morality now? How does womanist analysis of the fantastic hegemonic imagination help illuminate how “the story” of Black women’s wombs (and even Planned Parenthood) “can be told another way?”

Tomorrow, I hope to show that it is in life experiences and historical consciousness where discussion of principles, particularly a respect for autonomy, should begin.

Stay tuned for a posting of my presentation along with (hopefully) a podcast.