In 1974 the first federal bioethics commission was created to examine the ethics and policies on biomedical research with human subjects. The idea of having a federal bioethics commission has continued since, with new presidents creating new commissions to replace their predecessor's commission. Six years before the first commission was created, Senator Walter Mondale proposed for the first time the idea of such a commission, which would examine the ethics and social implications of a wide range of biomedical research topics in an interdisciplinary manner. This dissertation specifically examines how the federal government became an influential venue for discussing bioethics and identifying ethical, social, and legal issues with research, and how social implications concerns developed and became part of bioethics. It reveals how during the 1960s those inside and outside biomedical research identified bioethical issues and debated their social responsibility, and how Congress become increasingly interested in the research that they were funding as well as in its implications on society. Throughout the chapters this dissertation follows the development of the field of bioethics, adding on to it with the history of the government's role in bioethics and with the details of social implications concerns that were distinct from concerns over medical ethics or human experimentation ethics. I argue that three key senators, Walter F. Mondale (D-MN), Fred Harris (D-OK), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA), worked with and also challenged the assertions of physicians and researchers on the need to examine social consequences of biomedicine, and in that process they dramatically reshaped the involvement of non-scientists and non-physicians in discussions of biomedical research. These Senators also brought public attention to difficult issues in biomedicine and established a public realm for bioethics discussions.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2012. Major:History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Advisor: Sally Gregory Kohlstedt. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 248 pages, appendices p. 247-248.
Biomedical advances confront society:congressional hearings and the development of bioethics, 1960-1975.
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