Category: 2020

2020, Journalistic Reporting

Maryland Blocks Proposed Off Campus Solar Project


This is a news story about the Maryland Department of the Environment’s decision to block Origis Energy’s solar project in La Plata, Maryland, which would have provided the university with around half of its electricity needs. The project faced push back from local environmental activists because to make room for the solar installation, over 200 acres of forest would have been cut down. Ultimately it was blocked because the state would not grant it a Wetlands and Waterways permit because it felt that Origis’s runoff mitigation plans were not sufficient for protecting the quality of the streams that crossed the property and ran into the Potomac and down to the Chesapeake Bay.


2020, Rhetoric + Argumentation

Organ Allocation: A Loaded Process


Given that the demand for organs far exceeds the supply available for donation, a system of organ allocation is necessary to determine how to distribute the scarce resource. In designing such a system, it is essential that certain principles central to the field of bioethics, such as utility and justice, are considered. In this paper, I imagine one potential system for organ allocation. In this system, the probability of success, medical need/urgency, waiting time, pediatric status, and exhaustion of alternative treatments are the five criteria used to determine how people should be ranked on organ waiting lists. While each of these criterion seems like an objective measure, I argue that the process of ranking an organ waiting list is a process that is far from objective. Choosing how to order and apply these objective criteria involves making explicit and implicit claims about what it means to live, and how life derives its value. I illustrate this point using sample iterations of a few possible systems. This piece highlights the prevalence of bioethical considerations in seemingly objective medical decisions.


2020, Academic Paper

A Medical Examination of Humanitarian Aid


The necessity of international relief is unending, as new crises continue to emerge across the world, whether from war, natural disaster, or hostile political or social environments. International aid plays a crucial role that often shapes the way in which the community begins to rebuild itself. While the ultimate goal is to lessen the burden of suffering nations and peoples, humanitarian aid can often have a variety of unanticipated consequences, leading to negative outcomes. In terms of medical humanitarianism, this disparity poses a bioethical issue because it results in ineffective or inefficient treatment of patients. Furthermore, inadequate aid often leaves behind substantial and foundational problems that the local community or healthcare system is not equipped to handle. Providing international medical aid should be done with the purpose of furthering the development and efficacy of foreign healthcare systems. This in turn empowers the community and lessens the burden of future crises by providing them with the tools and knowledge to move forward independently. There are several areas of improvement that must be addressed in the provision of international medical aid to achieve this goal consistently. This academic paper examines several sources of error in international medical aid, including medical pluralism, the challenges of short-term aid, lack of coordination, ethical decision-making and distributive justice, political and social structures, and misguided motivation. Finally, several recommendations for best practice are made based on lessons learned from previous endeavors. These include clustered coordination approaches, training in context-appropriate care, education in local healthcare systems and epidemiology, training of local providers in necessary procedures, and developing a meaningful relationship with the community. With deliberate effort, medical humanitarianism can be conducted in a purposeful way that will not only benefit the community in need, but contribute to a world-wide growth of justice and peace that benefits all people.

Note: At the author’s request, the full paper is not published online.

2020, Academic Paper

A Call for Commercial Payment Parity for Telehealth Services


The growth of telehealth services in the U.S. has increased access to clinical care, enabling practitioners to remotely diagnose, treat, and monitor patients. Recently, a heightened urgency for health organizations to utilize “at-a-distance” treatment solutions has been felt across the country due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This surge in demand for telemedicine and telehealth services, especially to ensure the safety of “at-risk” populations, has brought underlying issues with these services to the attention of the large body of healthcare practitioners, many who are family physicians, now providing virtual care. Currently, commercial payer reimbursement statutes for telehealth and other digital health services lack clarity and possess major limitations. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) supports federal legislation that would nationally synchronize reimbursement parity laws for telehealth services. A meaningful and consistent reimbursement statute will better enable our physicians to continue to adopt and use virtual care services, improving patient access to care.


2020, Academic Paper

Ethics of the Fast Fashion Industry as it Relates to Climate Change


The fast fashion industry is infamous for its massive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental damage. Although it is clear that the environmental problems of fast fashion need to be addressed, it is not so clear who ought to do what to address this issue. Can consumers be completely to blame for the mass consumption and detriment to the environment? Or is it more just for the fast fashion companies to be held accountable? And what role does/should the federal government play in creating and enforcing policies for the fashion industry in terms of environmental harm and environmental justice? In this paper, I outline ethical concerns in the fast fashion industry, the points of contention for the existence of fast fashion, and my own suggestions for the most ethical allocation responsibilities to combat this issue while referring to existing principles of ecojustice.


2020, Rhetoric + Argumentation

Access to Basic Healthcare: a Privilege or a Right? A Case Analysis


This paper evaluates a case presented in a Washington Post article entitled “Superintendent charged with fraud after passing off sick student as her son for treatment, police say” and works to determine if the superintendent’s choices can be deemed ethically correct after examining the case through various bioethical lenses. It also examines the broader issue of access to healthcare and whether or not all people are entitled to some form of baseline healthcare. The goal of this paper is to highlight the existing inequities that people are facing, now more than ever, in access to healthcare and to provide an informed voice that argues for those who are unable to do so.


2020, Literary + Creative

What Am I? The Invisible Riddle


The concept of invisible disability is foreign to some. It is confusing, much like a riddle. For many individuals, their disability goes unseen until forced to prove it. This poem strives to challenge the notion of what defines disability. Inspired by ideas from Eli Claire’s Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure, alternative possibilities to our ideology of cure are proposed. Current ideas tell a harmful narrative that puts overcoming on a pedestal and fixing ourselves as the priority. Disability is not the enemy. Disability is all of us, both seen and unseen.