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Organ Donors and Imprisoned People

photograph of jail cell with man's hands hanging past bars

Should people who are in prison – even on death row – be allowed to donate their organs? Sally Satel has recently made the case. After all, there is a “crying need” for organs, with people dying daily because they do not receive a transplant. But, as Satel points out, the federal prison system does not allow for posthumous donations and limits living donations to immediate family members.

Imprisoned people, whether they want to donate a kidney whilst alive or all their organs after an execution, are rarely able to do so.

There seem to be a couple of practical justifications for this. For one, it might interfere with the date of execution; secondly, the prison system might have to bear some of this cost. I want to address these two issues before moving on to some of the other ethical issues involved.

It’s important to see that the actual date of execution has no ethical significance – it is not a justice-driven consideration. If it turns out that an execution is delayed two weeks to enable a kidney transplant, so what? Executions are delayed by stays all the time, and if there is some good to come out of changing the date then keeping it fixed doesn’t seem particularly important.

Secondly, there may well be costs to the prison system in, say, medical care for a patient who has donated a kidney (or for the removal of organs post-execution). But the prison system is part of the state. Given there is a nationwide shortage of organs, we might expect the state to play a role in addressing this, and if it has to bear some cost, why should it matter that the prison system – not the health system – must pay? After all, the criminal justice system is meant to help broader society. (That is not to mention that there might be other ways of funding these transplants that don’t increase costs for the prison system.)

There are further explanations for why states do not permit donations. Christian Longo – who sits on death row in Oregon for murdering his wife and children – asked to posthumously donate his organs and was told that the drugs used in executions destroy the organs. But Longo points out that other states use drugs that do not cause such destruction. Still, the specific drugs used in executions brings up an ethical concern: how painful these drugs are is not clear, and there seem to be some incredibly distressing executions.

Fiddling around with these drug cocktails in order to ensure the viability of organs may introduce major risks to the condemned.

Longo asked to donate his organs, so too did Shannon Ross, who is serving a long prison sentence. The fact that people are requesting to donate means that there seems to be more than mere consent here, there is an eagerness to donate. But this might hide some deeper worries, and to see this we need to investigate why inmates wish to donate.

We might also worry that Longo wants to get some “extra privileges” or to somehow improve his own situation. Perhaps an appeals or parole board would look more favorably upon somebody who has given up a kidney. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for Longo, who is resigned to death (though he has not yet been killed, Oregon has a moratorium in place). Yet others might volunteer to donate in the mistaken belief that this will help their case. This might make the expressed consent less voluntary than it seems, since they don’t fully understand the risks and benefits of what they are consenting to.

And this leads to what I think the most difficult moral issue here is: whether prisoners can autonomously consent. Longo points out that consent can sometimes be exploited: prisoners in the 60s and 70s were paid to volunteer for “research into the effects of radiation on testicular cells.”

That, even if it is seemingly voluntary, is unacceptable – prisoners are in a vulnerable position and we shouldn’t exploit them for medical research.

Both for prisoners who will be released and those on death row, I think we can find a useful parallel with cases of voluntary euthanasia. The key similarity is that both are in a desperate situation and are offered a chance that seems to help them improve their position.

David Velleman, for example, poses this challenge to defenders of voluntary euthanasia: perhaps even offering somebody the choice to die is coercive. To simplify a very complex argument, if someone thinks they might be a drain on their family, then offering them the chance to be euthanized might not actually help them do what they would autonomously choose. They want to carry on living, and they regret that this burdens their family. But once confronted with the option to die, they are called upon to provide a justification for continued existence and might, then, feel compelled to take an option they might otherwise not. And we can see how a prisoner on death row might similarly feel compelled to donate – lacking a suitable justification to refuse – once confronted by the choice.

In addition to these concerns about mistaken beliefs and the coerciveness of choice, there might be another deep temptation to donate. Longo notes that he has little opportunity to give back to society in any way – a society that he recognizes he has wronged and harmed. Giving away his organs seems to be a way of giving back. Donation, then, provides a way of atoning, if only to a limited extent.

The worry here is that the prospect of atonement is a bit like the worry of being a burden on your family.

When you’re given the option – donate your organs in the one case, end your life in another – this prospect burns too brightly.

It might be that the prospect of atonement blots out an individual’s proper concern with, say, their own future health (or, if they are on death row, with objections they might have to organ donation).

Yet I think that – powerful and troubling as this concern might be – this is only a worry. In offering his argument, Velleman notes that he isn’t opposed to a right to die, just that this is a (perhaps defeasible) argument against an institutional right to die. Likewise, the argument in our domain only goes so far. Many people have no objection to organ donation, so there is no such concern that they, if on death row, are making the wrong choice for themselves. Plenty of people who are under no pressure at all choose to donate a kidney – why can’t we allow prisoners to make that choice, too?

If we worry too much about the possibility of letting prisoners make a bad choice, we might be paternalistic and also take away from them the free choice to selflessly help others.

Content Moderation and Emotional Trauma

image of wall of tvs each displaying something different

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been raging violently since February 24th of 2022, Facebook (now known as “Meta”) recently announced its decision to change some of its content-moderation rules. In particular, Meta will now allow for some calls for violence against “Russian invaders,” though Meta emphasized that credible death threats against specific individuals would still be banned.

“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” spokesman Andy Stone said.

This recent announcement has reignited a discussion of the rationale — or lack thereof — of content moderation rules. The Washington Post reported on the high-level discussion around social media content moderation guidelines: how these guidelines are often reactionary, inconsistently-applied, and not principle-based.

Facebook frequently changes its content moderation rules and has been criticized by its own independent Oversight Board for having rules that are inconsistent. The company, for example, created an exception to its hate speech rules for world leaders but was never clear which leaders got the exception or why.

Still, politicians, academics, and lobbyists continue to call for stricter content moderation. For example, take the “Health Misinformation Act of 2021”, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) in July of 2021. This bill, a response to online misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, would revoke certain legal protections for any interactive computer service, e.g., social media websites, that “promotes…health misinformation through an algorithm.” The purpose of this bill is to incentivize internet companies to take greater measures to combat the spread of misinformation by engaging in content-moderation measures.

What is often left out of these discussions, however, is the means by which content moderation happens. It is often assumed that such a monumental task must be left up to algorithms, which can scour through mind-numbing amounts of content at a breakneck speed. However, much of the labor of content-moderation is performed by humans. And in many cases, these human content-moderators are poor laborers working in developing nations for an extremely small salary. For example, employees at Sama, a Kenyan technology company that is the direct employer of Facebook’s Kenya-based content moderators, “remain some of Facebook’s lowest-paid workers anywhere in the world.” While U.S.-based moderators are typically paid a starting wage of $18/hour, Sama moderators make an average of $2.20/hour. And this low wage is their salary after a recent pay-increase, which happened a few weeks ago. Prior to that, Sama moderators made $1.50/hour.

Such low wages, especially for labor outsourced to poor or developing nations, is nothing new. However, content moderation can be a particularly harrowing — in some cases, traumatizing — line of work. In their paper “Corporeal Moderation: Digital Labour as Affective Good,” Dr. Rae Jereza interviews one content moderator named Olivia about her daily work, which includes identifying “non‐moving bod[ies]”, visible within a frame, “following an act of violence or traumatic experience that could reasonably result in death.” The purpose of this is so videos containing dead bodies can be flagged as containing disturbing content. This content moderator confesses to watching violent or otherwise disturbing content prior to her shift, in an effort to desensitize herself to the content she would have to pick through as part of her job. The content that she was asked to moderate ranged over many categories, including “hate speech, child exploitation imagery (CEI), adult nudity and more.”

Many kinds of jobs involve potentially traumatizing duties: military personnel, police, first responders, slaughterhouse and factory farm workers, and social workers all work jobs with high rates of trauma and other kinds of emotional/psychological distress. Some of these jobs are also compensated very poorly — for example, factory and industrial farms primarily hire immigrants (many undocumented) willing to work for pennies on the dollar in dangerous conditions. Poorly-compensated high-risk jobs tend to be filled by people in the most desperate conditions, and these workers often end up in dangerous employment situations that they are nevertheless unable or unwilling to leave. Such instances may constitute a case of exploitation: someone exploits someone else when they take unfair advantage of the other’s vulnerable state. But not all instances of exploitation leave the exploited person worse-off, all things considered. The philosopher Jason Brennan describes the following case of exploitation:

Drowning Man: Peter’s boat capsizes in the ocean. He will soon drown. Ed comes along in a boat. He says to Peter, “I’ll save you from drowning, but only if you provide me with 50% of your future earnings.” Peter angrily agrees.

In this example, the drowning man is made better-off even though his vulnerability was taken advantage of. Just like this case, certain unpleasant or dangerous lines of work may be exploitative, but may ultimately make the exploited employees better-off. After all, most people would prefer poor work conditions to life in extreme poverty. Still, there seems to be a clear moral difference between different instances of mutually-beneficial exploitation. Requiring interest on a loan given to a financially-desperate acquaintance may be exploitative to some extent, but is surely not as morally egregious as forcing someone to give up their child in exchange for saving their life. What we demand in exchange for the benefit morally matters. Can it even be permissible to demand emotional and mental vulnerability in exchange for a living wage (or possibly less)?

Additionally, there is something unique about content moderation in that the traumatic material moderators view on any given day is not a potential hazard of the job — it is the whole job. How should we think about the permissibility of hiring people to moderate content too disturbing for the eyes of the general public? How can we ask some people to weed out traumatizing, pornographic, racist, threatening posts, so that others don’t have to see it? Fixing the low compensation rates may help with some of the sticky ethical issues concerning this sort of work. Yet, it is unclear whether any amount of compensation can truly make hiring people for this line of work permissible. How can you put a price on mental well-being, on humane sensitivity to violence and hate?

On the other hand, the alternatives are similarly bleak. There seem to be few good options when it comes to cleaning up the dregs of virtual hate, abuse, and shock-material.

‘Squid Game,’ Class Struggle, and the Good Life

image of Korean Squid Game logo

[SPOILER WARNING: This article discusses several plot details of Netflix’s Squid Game.]

Throughout the fall months of 2021, the Korean series Squid Game was a top ten listing on Netflix. It shares elements in common with movies such as the 2005 Eli Roth film Hostel and the entire Hunger Games franchise — the suffering of the poor and downtrodden serves as perverted entertainment for the incomprehensibly and unconscionably wealthy. By situating the class struggle in a 9-episode hypothetical thought experiment, the series distances the viewer from the reality behind the metaphor and prevents their analysis from being clouded by pre-existing political commitments.

The main idea of the series is that participants compete for a growing pile of cash, contained in a giant transparent piggy bank, hanging over the room in which contestants spend most of their time. Every time one of the players dies, more money is added to the bank. They participate in a variety of traditional children’s games. The winners live another day to compete for the whole pot, while the losers are exterminated and become for the others simply more money in the pile. Often the contestants are put in a position to kill one another and are frequently more than eager to do so.

Hundreds of players choose to participate in the Squid Game, all of them down and out in some way or another. The word “choose” is used loosely here. The candidates enter the competition, are allowed to leave, and then when given the option to participate again, almost all of them do. The common line of reasoning is that life is worse outside of the game — intense suffering is bound to happen, but at least in the game that suffering is more ordered and predictable. In the world outside, a person can follow all of the “rules” or, in any case, the set of norms that we’ve come to expect will point the direction of their lives away from misery and toward happiness. They can do all that and still be hit in the face with the absurdity of lived experience — with the machinations of an indifferent universe that doesn’t care about the rules and deals out misery, suffering, and death indiscriminately to rule followers and rule breakers alike. In the game, players don’t know who will go first or last, nor do they know which skills and abilities will be useful for success in the highly contingent circumstances in which they find themselves. The recognition of the absurdity of their condition is clear to the viewer from the very beginning. As the series highlights throughout and stresses in the final episode, the condition of the human person surviving in the real world is different only in the respect that it is worse while masquerading as better. We have no control over the circumstances into which we are born: whether our parents are kind and supportive or cruel and destructive, whether they have wealth to pass along, whether we are born into environments with stable and fair political systems, whether those environments have sufficient resources, whether we are born a member of an oppressed group, or whether we have skills and abilities that will make us well positioned to survive in the environments into which we are born (to name just a few). If this is what we can expect out of life, why not sign up for a game one stands a fighting chance of winning?

The idea that the characters “choose” to participate in the game motivates reflection on the nature of coercion. To how much misery and manipulation can a person be subjected before their decisions no longer count as truly free? If you think playing a game is your only way to survive another day, or your only chance to protect your mother or your child, odds are that you will end up playing. To do otherwise is to select an alternative that is not a reasonable second option. The viewer knows what is at stake in the game, and we can empathize with the fact that the players end up back inside. No one is likely to think that the characters that finance and run the competition are heroes — they are exploiting the dire circumstances of desperate people. In the real world, the losers of life’s socioeconomic lottery, like the players in the Squid Game, are often trapped in a state of unfreedom. While powerful people wearing the masks of representatives and leaders enact policies to make the rich richer on the backs of the poor, the least well off are often left, through no fault of their own, to “choose” between only bad options. Then we blame them for it. Rather than recognizing the contingency of all of the facts of our existence, we tend to treat those that suffer as if they do so purely as a result of their own life choices.

There is no justice in the game — wrongdoers engage in selfish and harmful acts with impunity. Far from being punished, such people are actually rewarded. The kindest and most empathetic people gain nothing from their good works. If people choose compassion and fellow-feeling, they’ll have to do so in recognition of the intrinsic value of those things rather than because of what they hope to get out of them. In this way, Squid Game is another manifestation of Glaucon’s challenge from Plato’s Republic. In Book Two of this most famous of Plato’s dialogues, the conversants attempt to answer the question “why be moral?” Glaucon makes the argument that, if people could get away with it and avoid the consequences, they would behave selfishly to the point of doing terrible things. He provides the fictional case of a man who is given a ring — the Ring of Gyges — that renders him invisible. Glaucon claims that the man would use it to steal all of the king’s riches and to rape his wife. Why should he care, if he will never be caught? Similarly, participants in the Squid Game either die or live to tell the tale exactly as they prefer with no one to correct them on the more gruesome details. Why shouldn’t participants behave in exactly the way they think will help them win?

Socrates’s rejoinder is that being good is valuable for its own sake, and the main character of Squid Game — Seong Gi-hun — is a Socratic hero. With one notable exception, he refuses to harm or kill other participants and seems to keep the humanity of others in full view throughout the proceedings. When he feels an impulse to deviate from this norm, he is quickly reminded by a friend, “that’s not you.” Though he seems blind to his own virtuous character, his behavior demonstrates an unwillingness to give up on virtue for virtue’s sake or on the inherent value of life and friendships. The game concludes with the Socratic hero as the winner; all of the money is now his and all he wants to do is use it to improve the lives of the people he cares about. Unfortunately, when he emerges from the game, they are all gone. His mother lies dead on the floor of the squalid apartment that they once shared. His daughter has moved to the United States with her mother and stepfather. He is left alone with more money than he ever imagined having in his wildest dreams. Under these conditions, it’s all worthless. What constitutes the good life? Even if we allow (as we should) for a pluralism of views on this topic, most well-considered accounts will agree that it involves delight in knowledge, awe in beauty, joy in hobbies, and the contentment that comes with spending substantial and meaningful time with the people we care about.

Material comfort is not identical to the good life, but economic stability is a necessary condition for people to have the freedom to participate in the goods of life. We can’t spend time with our loved ones if we’re constantly pushing a rock up a hill or, what amounts to the same thing, working for exploitation wages. Squid Game provides us with a hypothetical thought experiment to help us to recognize that what’s true in this fictional universe is no less true in the actual world. If we think just conditions of human life require providing a structure in which everyone has reasonable access to the basic goods of life, then we desperately need to make modifications to our current socioeconomic systems. Otherwise, we’re all just playing a rigged game.

Should College Football Be Canceled?

photograph of footbal next to the 50 yard line

On August 11, the Big Ten conference announced it would be postponing its fall sports season to Spring 2021. This decision shocked many, as it was the first Division I college football conference to cancel its fall season.  After the announcement, Vice President Mike Pence took to twitter to voice his disapproval and to declare that, “America needs college football” and President Donald Trump simply tweeted, “Play College Football!” Trump and Pence weren’t the only politicians to express this belief, though they are certainly the highest-ranking members of government to express a moral position in favor of continuing the college sports season amidst the pandemic.

Questions surrounding America’s 2020 college football season make up a few of the many ethical dilemmas surrounding higher education during the pandemic. Canceling this season means further economic loss and the potential suppression of a labor movement, while playing ball could have dire consequences for the safety of players and associated colleges. Navigating this dilemma requires asking several questions about both the economic importance and cultural significance of college football.

Do schools have an ethical duty to cancel their football season? What values do athletic programs hold in college education? And what is at stake for the players, the schools, and Americans at large?

Is a sports season, in and of itself, dangerous to attempt during the pandemic? The official CDC guidance on playing sports advises that participants should wear masks, keep a 6-feet distance, and bring their own equipment. They also rank sports activities from low to high risk, with the lowest risk being skill-building drills at home and the highest being competition with those from different areas. While the CDC does not necessarily advocate against the continuation of athletic programs during the pandemic, can the same be said for other medical professionals? After VP Mike Pence’s tweet, several prominent health professionals “clapped back” on Twitter, pushing back against the need for football, and even suggesting that continuing fall sports is of least priority during the pandemic. Some medical professionals have even ranked football as one of the most dangerous sports for COVID-19 transmission.

Despite the physical dangers, cancelling football season has serious economic consequences for colleges. It is estimated that there is at least $4 billion at stake if college football is cancelled. While losing one year’s worth of revenue on sports might not seem like a big deal, many colleges rely on athletic revenue to cover the costs of student scholarships and coaching contracts. In fact, a 2018 study by the NCAA found that overall, Division I athletic programs were operating at a deficit, and their revenues were helping them scrape by. Without revenues this season thousands of professors and staff members could face the risk of job loss, due to colleges’ lack of money to cover athletic investments. Small businesses that see large profits from the influx of fans during football season face a huge decrease in revenue. Even sports bars and restaurants, which draw in customers by airing current games, face significant economic losses.

Additionally, college sports serve as a primary form of entertainment for millions of people. In 2019 alone, over 47 million spectators attended college football games and an average of over 7 million people watched games on TV. College football clearly holds large cultural value in American society. During a time which is already financially, emotionally, and mentally troubling, losing one’s hobby, or ties to a community of like-minded people, might worsen the growing mental health crisis spurred by the pandemic.

The question of whether or not college football season should continue is also further complicated by the existing ethical debates within the sport itself. NCAA football teams have had a wide-ranging history of corruption, from academic violations to embezzlement schemes. Even more disturbing are the several sexual abuse scandals that have rocked major college football teams in recent years, both involving athletes and athletic officials. The clear racial divides in the makeup of players and athletic officials, has stirred debates about the haunting similarities between college football and slavery.

Over the past decade, there has been a growing movement in favor of instituting labor rights for college athletes. Several lawsuits against the NCAA, primarily on behalf of football players, have argued that widespread lack of compensation violates labor laws. Movements to unionize college football have become even more common during COVID, with some arguing that recent league debates about canceling the football season are more about controlling players’ ability to organize than it is about players’ health and safety. In an op-ed in The Guardian, Johanna Mellis, Derak Silva, and Nathan Kalman-Lamb argue that the decision to cancel the college football season was motivated by fear of the growing movement demanding widespread reform in the NCAA. They assert that if colleges really cared about the health and safety of their players, they would not have “compelled thousands of players back on to campus for workouts over the spring and summer, exposing them to the threat of Covid-19.” The argument is especially strong when one considers the fact that a growing movement of athletes, using the hashtags #WeAreUnited and #WeWantToPlay, have been threatening to refuse to play without the ability to unionize.

Despite potentially ulterior motives for cancelling the college football season, it still might arguably be the most ethical decision. Nearly a dozen college football players have already suffered life-threatening conditions as a result of the spread of COVID. The continuation of a fall sports season will endanger athletes, athletic officials, spectators, and also non-athlete students. Even if in-person spectators are prohibited, the continuation of fall sports requires cross-state team competition, which is ranked as the highest risk sports activity by the CDC. Several outbreaks have already occurred during fall training at colleges across the nation. Outbreaks on teams have not only the potential to harm athletes, but also students at the universities which they attend.

While two Division I conferences across the country have canceled their season, others appear unwavering in their desire to play football. Fortunately, the NCAA has developed a set of regulations aimed to protect players from retaliation if they choose not to play. With human lives, the economic survival of colleges, and a labor organization movement at stake, America’s 2020 college football season is set to be the most ethically confuddling in history.

Moral Distinctions between Crisis Capitalizers

photograph of hands exchanging a one hundred dollar banknote

After announcing an expectation-exceeding fiscal quarter, Apple CEO Tim Cook unabashedly stated that despite “uncertain times, this performance is a testament to the important role our products play in our customers’ lives and to Apple’s relentless innovation.” Cook’s statement comes amidst waves of criticism due to Big Tech’s apparent invincibility to the pandemic-driven economic crisis. News of unprecedented profits and increasing stock shares is often juxtaposed to highlight the giant disparity between a few lucky corporations and billionaires with the majority of Americans and businesses financially suffering. While some activists and politicians have proclaimed the gross immorality of those continuing to profit during the pandemic, there has been little discussion surrounding the moral distinction between these so called “crisis capitalizers.” Is there something inherently immoral about profiting from the pandemic? And is there significant moral distinction between profiting off of a crisis rather than profiting during it?

The sheer inequality of the current economy might be enough to argue that anyone still profiting during this time has an obligation to help those suffering. Since March, 51 million Americans have filed for unemployment. The United States just reported its worst economic drop ever recorded in one quarter, with US GDP collapsing by 32.9%. To make matters worse, over 40 million Americans are at risk for eviction, after relief programs expired on July 31 with no economic safety net in place. Meanwhile, the profits of businesses and individuals in the tech industry have been soaring. The Guardian reported that Amazon’s profit over the past quarter was $5.2 billion, shockingly higher than this time last year. Both Facebook’s and Apple’s quarterly revenue have also exceeded projections. This stark economic inequality between the majority of Americans and the “1%” might be immoral in itself. When one considers the fact that these very same corporations have notoriously been exempt from paying taxes in recent history, it is troubling to witness their general lack of action in contributing to alleviating the economic crisis fueled by the pandemic. In terms of the billionaire individuals at the helm of these tech corporations, only about 1 in 10 billionaires worldwide have verifiably contributed monetary donations to COVID-19 relief efforts. The moral obligation for wealthy individuals to act is even more pertinent considering the underwhelming response to both the health and economic crisis by the United States government.

However, others have argued that profiting during the pandemic is not immoral, and should in fact be celebrated as a sign of adaptation and resilience. In an article on Medium, Bloomberg Beta head Roy Bahat argues that it is important to acknowledge the difference between taking advantage of the pandemic and adapting to it. He considers it “okay, even noble for businesses to thrive right now,” since companies are “helping to keep people employed.” Bahat makes a point, especially considering the fact that the US is facing one of its worst unemployment crises in history.

Is there something to be said for businesses’ ability to adapt? Many independent entrepreneurs have adapted to the crisis such as those on popular small business website Etsy, which is projected to double its quarterly income. The success of Etsy has also meant the success of “anyone with creativity and 20 cents.” Additionally, the profits of many of the thriving corporations are the product of their sales revenue, reflecting consumption of products. One might argue that if we all stopped buying products from Amazon and Apple, and stopped using Facebook, perhaps the revenue of these organizations would not have increased during the pandemic. If we consider current corporate profits are simply a reflection of consumer demand, it appears as though these companies have adapted to fill an economic niche. In fact, some might argue these very corporations are actually filling a crucial role in ensuring access to necessities during a crisis.

While the morality of profiting during the pandemic might be considered up for debate, can the same be said for profiting off of the pandemic? Profiting off of a crisis can be considered immoral from many different ethical perspectives. While profiting during the pandemic clearly requires the participation in an inequitable economy, profiting off of the pandemic could be considered more sinister in both its proximity to the crisis itself and in its willingness to use suffering for personal gain. If one believes healthcare to be a human right, the entire concept of private industry profiting off of medical assistance is potentially immoral. Those who identify strongly with Kantian ethics would be most disturbed by instances during the pandemic where access to goods and services is limited to use people’s need to survive as a means to an end. Profiting off of crisis also is potentially immoral because it might showcase inherent selfishness, which reflects a corrupted internal character. Lastly, profiting from the pandemic might even be considered wrong on consequentialist grounds if withholding goods and services necessary for survival leads to further sickness and economic suffering. This is especially true if individuals are unable to afford/access healthcare to treat or prevent COVID, or if an individual/company is attempting to profit off of phony healthcare products which arguably endanger the general public.

Alternatively, some might argue that though the medical/pharmaceutical industry is directly profiting from the pandemic, it is more consequentially balanced than its critics paint it to be. Take the widespread demand for masks for instance. Masks have been prescribed by public health officials to slow the spread of coronavirus, yet masks remain a for-profit industry. While some politicians, like Senator Bernie Sanders, have argued masks should be subsidized and free for all, there remains a giant market for masks — both from large medical companies and small independent businesses using their skills to make decorative or high-end masks. From a utilitarian perspective, the market for medical supplies to combat COVID is promoting good as widespread mask use has been projected to save lives. Cheap medical masks are largely accessible, protecting those who wear them and profiting the companies that sell them. Higher end customizable ones arguably encourage more people to wear them and give satisfaction both to those selling them and those buying them. Similarly, pharmaceutical companies profiting off of test kits — and potentially vaccines in the future — could be argued to be a net positive (from a consequentialist perspective) if these products are largely available to the general public. Perhaps it is especially important that private industry take a role in developing a vaccine for COIVD-19 considering the fact that most medical research in the US is already privately funded.

Perhaps even more complicated are those who are less clearly profiting directly off of the pandemic. Large department stores, like Walmart and Target, sell PPE and important cleaning products, but also reportedly resulted in an uptick in sales items related to quarantine and work-from-home. For Target, the sales bump in April actually exceeded its typical holiday profits. Whether or not to categorize such organizations and profits within the “profit off of” or “profit during” category depends largely on what types of products we consider necessities, how those goods get marketed to consumers, and who benefits.

Whether or not we believe profiting during the pandemic is immoral depends largely on if we interpret these profits to reflect adaptation or exploitation. And that perception likely rests on whether or not we believe the sale of those products tends to produce the most good for the most amount of people. Our answers to these questions go a long way in determining if we truly believe there exists a moral distinction between these “crisis capitalizers.”

COVID-19 and Food Justice

photograph of meat-packing workers crowded around conveyor belt

Despite the widespread effects of COVID-19 in the food industry and the centrality of that industry to everyone’s existence food and agriculture systems have not made their way to the forefront of the public conversation about the virus. Yet, the pandemic and the federal government’s bungled response to it reveals starkly how broken our food system is, and how standard responses to the virus threaten simply to maintain the status quo in the food system. The situation illuminates the inflexibility of a consolidated, industrialized food sector dominated by monopolistic companies, and the unethical consequences of such a system, whether under pandemic conditions or not. It highlights even more strikingly the untenable situation in which we find ourselves when it comes to industrialized animal agriculture.

Even as food waste has proliferated, for instance, with unpicked produce rotting in fields and eggs and milk deliberately destroyed, food banks struggled to keep up with the demand for their services. Food supplies have not been systematically redirected to meet the needs of the growing number of people experiencing food insecurity, but neither was production reduced or redirected. This issue is especially troubling with respect to animal agriculture, as farmers are forced to “depopulate” (i.e., cull) animals they cannot bring to slaughter, often using grisly methods. These disturbing problems are not merely the result of the pandemic, however, but are the natural consequence of conventional methods of raising, growing, producing, and distributing food. Closing or reducing the capacity of slaughterhouses threw off the chain of production because of the mechanical, systematic way animal products are produced: animals are continuously reproduced, bred to grow rapidly on a predictable, shortened schedule to maximize output, and raised in crowded confinement.

Our dependence on animals for food is also a direct contributor to the spread of the virus. Like bird flu, H1NI, SARS, MERS, West Nile Fever, Zika, Yellow Fever, and Ebola, which all have proven or suspected transmission via domesticated animals, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is a zoonotic disease that moves between humans and nonhuman animals. Although some of these diseases did not originate in domesticated animals, their spread is often amplified, in various ways, through humans’ close contact with them. In a recent report on preventing pandemics, the UN Environment Programme explained that, “The frequency of pathogenic microorganisms jumping from other animals to people is increasing due to unsustainable human activities. Pandemics such as the COVID-19 outbreak are a predictable and predicted outcome of how people source and grow food, trade animals, and alter environments.” Among the worrisome trends that the report addresses are increasing human demand for animal protein and unsustainable agricultural intensification, including factory farming. The UNEP recommends shifting from “short-term political responses to long-term political commitments to secure human, animal and environment health” as a way to reduce the risk of zoonoses.

A prime example of such a misguided and short-term political response to the pandemic’s effect on our food system is the Trump administration’s decision in April to invoke the Defense Production Act to force meat processing plants to remain open to “ensure a continued supply of protein for Americans.” Meat-processing plants rank among the top hotspots for COVID-19 and, to date, over 16,200 meatpacking workers have been infected with the virus and at least 86 have died. Not only is social distancing impossible given production speeds in such plants, but experts also hypothesize that normal working conditions in the plants encourage the spread of the virus. Despite continued assurances that workers’ lives and health are valued, this use of the DPA highlights the overall disregard for working-class, migrant, immigrant, and refugee workers that is a persistent feature of the food industry. Following this order, and receiving much less publicity, the USDHS removed limitations on the H-2B Visa program, making it easier for meat companies to hire guest workers. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union criticized both decisions as “a betrayal of America’s meatpacking workers, giving companies free pass to ignore safety.” The safety guidelines delineated by OSHA are voluntary and not enforceable, and companies are defying the state and local authority and law that could be used to protect workers, claiming that the federal mandate takes precedence. In addition, most people doing this work do not have the financial freedom not to return to work; the DPA order means that they can no longer utilize unemployment compensation, so they must choose to put their lives (and those of their families and members of their communities) at risk to make ends meet.

Designating meat-processing facilities as “critical infrastructure” through the DPA is a destructive decision, but is also a logical conclusion of the existing, exploitative system of agriculture and food production in the US, which involves farming so intensively as to deplete the soil, pollute the water, bolster antibiotic resistance, and harm the health of people in surrounding communities. Animals are treated as mere raw materials. Workers are devalued as replaceable and disposable, especially as the burden of farmwork shifted onto migrant laborers, people of color, and disempowered contract farmers. These kinds of exploitative relationships are at the heart of the system of industrialized, intensive agriculture because profit and efficiency, narrowly understood, are valued above all else. Through our food system, we have cultivated dependency on exploited labor, tortured animals, and powerful and monopolistic corporations, all in exchange for cheap, plentiful, and readily available food. The proliferation of COVID-19 outbreaks in meat-processing facilities is consistent with those values, revealing yet again that companies like Tyson are “… worried more about getting chicken on the shelves than the people who put the chicken on the shelf,” as one worker noted. While food corporations are adjusting to the new normal, they aim to go about business as usual by implementing testing regimes, which may foster the perception of safety in lieu of actually creating safe working conditions. But testing is not failsafe since it only identifies but does not prevent infection, and lag times as well as gaps between the administration of tests mean that workers could unknowingly be exposed to the virus before anyone realizes there’s a problem. Invoking the DPA to keep meat-processing facilities open thus clearly exposes the perverse logic of the dominant way of producing and consuming food.

Another looming global crisis, climate change, indicates how shortsighted and counterproductive it is to preserve the status quo with respect to food production and animal agriculture in particular. According to the UNFAO, animal agriculture is a significant driver of global climate change, contributing at least 18% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. By promoting the increased production and consumption of meat, the U.S. continues to ignore both the dangerous and intensifying consequences of climate change as well as the clear connections between animal husbandry and the spread of zoonoses. In fact, the frequency and transmission of zoonotic diseases are worsened by climate change: many disease vectors and the pathogens themselves tend to thrive in warmer, wetter climates, and in places where biological diversity is threatened. Thus, the more we depend on intensive animal agriculture for food, the more we commit ourselves to dangerous climate change, and, in light of both, the more likely we are to catalyze the outbreak of another deadly zoonotic disease like COVID-19. This risk is increased by both close and unnatural contact with animals as well as the changing environmental conditions brought on by climate instability. Yet, the approach of food companies and the federal government, along with many state governments, has been to uphold the status quo in our food system at all costs and, so, to declare that meat is so important that we will sacrifice human lives and climate stability to secure it.

The pandemic should be an occasion to call for changes to our food systems that genuinely bolster food security and protect human health by reducing reliance on a fragile, harmful, and overly centralized system of production. Yet, loosening the hold of industrialized animal agriculture on our system of food production is challenging because of the belief that meat is essential to both diet and the economy. It is unquestionable, however, that meat is not necessary, that there are various different sources of protein, and that alternative agricultural and food production enterprises could sustain the economy.

Still, we struggle to detach ourselves from the pervasive cultural narrative that we need meat. The standard American diet is synonymous with huge portions of meat, and many Americans consider a meal without it un-thinkable. This perception is unsurprising given that the USDA dietary guidelines do more to promote corporate interests than human health, and messaging campaigns funded by the government via check-off programs have been wildly successful in convincing Americans to increase consumption of animal products. Perhaps there’s no stronger evidence of the success of these efforts than the aforementioned use of the DPA, which fortifies the myth of the necessity of animal protein into law.

The pandemic has revealed our food and agricultural system to be cumbersome, unadaptable, unsafe, and unethical. The responses to the impact of COVID-19 on that system have been mere mitigation measures, simply shoring up the existing state of affairs. The current crisis, however, presents us with the opportunity to rethink how we relate to, produce, and consume food, and then to transform our food system radically. Such an examination should start with redefining what is truly “essential” regarding food and taking stock of all the costs of intensively raising animals for food. Meat, especially in the vast quantities produced in the US, is not essential. What is essential is a resilient, sustainable, and democratic food system that provides healthful food, offers safe and meaningful work, treats animals as sentient beings, and involves agricultural practices that conserve and sustain natural resources. The forms that such a system can take are myriad and no one agricultural model is a cure-all.

Likewise, in the face of global climate change, we must acknowledge that our real needs are radically different from how we have been accustomed to think of them. We need food systems that are flexible and responsive, that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that foster human health, that cultivate ecological, biological, and socio-cultural diversity, and that restore environmental integrity, especially in anticipation of climate instability and the resultant serious environmental problems. The work of organizations like Soul Fire Farm, which not only farms in ecological regenerative ways that sequester carbon but also prioritizes racial justice through mentorship and care for the local community, is a model. Policy changes are also necessary to address structural injustice and support the work of such organizations. One key move is to redirect agricultural subsidies from agribusiness, especially commodity crops and animal agriculture, to farmers using carbon neutral and carbon negative practices.

The global pandemic has highlighted all the ways in which our current food system is failing: instead of pouring more resources into a harmful food system and bolstering the profits of big agribusiness, we need a food system that serves the interests of the people from farm and factory to the table.

The Jezebel Stereotype and Hip-Hop

photograph of Lil' Kim on stage

Back in the day, black people were depicted in media through a series of racist caricatures that endured the majority of the 20th century. These caricatures became popularized in films, television, cartoons, etc. There was the classic sambo–the simple minded black man often portrayed as lazy and incoherent. Then, there was the mammy–the heavyset black woman maid who possessed a head-scratching loyalty to her white masters. The picaninny depicted black children as buffoons and savages. The sapphire caricature was your standard angry black woman, a trope that is still often portrayed in media today. But perhaps one of the most enduring caricatures is that of the jezebel. This caricature had an insatiable need for sex, so much so that they were portrayed as predators. One of the ways that this stereotype has endured time is through hip-hop. It could be argued that some black women in the rap game today reflect some of the attributes of the jezebel due to the promiscuity in their music. Therefore, are black women in rap facilitating the jezebel stereotype and, in turn, adversely affecting the depiction of black women in general?

Before we get any further, it should be noted that rap music has never been kind to women, especially black women (see “Hip-Hop Misogyny’s Effects on Women of Color”). You wouldn’t have to look far to confirm this. After all, Dr. Dre’s iconic album The Chronic has a song called “Bitches Ain’t Shit” with uncle Snoop Dogg singing the hook. It’s become a staple in rap music to disregard women in some form or fashion. But perhaps a line from Kanye West’s verse on The Game’s song “Wouldn’t Get Far” best embodies treatment of women and black women in the rap genre. West raps “Pop quiz how many topless, black foxes did I have under my belt like boxers?” In the music video, a bunch of black women in bikinis dance around West while he raps. Black women in rap are presented as objects of sexual desire–they’re arm candy. It’s the updated version of the jezebel. Before, as a racist caricature, the jezebel stereotype was used by slave masters to justify sex with female slaves. But even prior to that, Europeans traveled to Africa and saw the women there with little to no clothing and practicing polygamy. To Europeans, this signaled an inherently promiscuous nature rather than a social tradition. To them, it meant sexual desire.

Now, there’s a narrative of black women rappers in hip-hop who are embracing their sexualization in media. Junior M.A.F.I.A rapper and the Notorious B.I.G. femme fatale Lil’ Kim started this trend, spitting verses that your parents definitely would not have let you listen to as a kid. For example, on her song “Kitty Box,” Kim raps,

“Picture Lil’ Kim masturbatin in a drop

Picture Lil’ Kim tan and topless on a yacht

Picture Lil’ Kim suckin on you like some candy

Picture Lil’ Kim in your shirt and no panties.”

Fast forward from Lil’ Kim, and there’s Nicki Minaj with her song “Anaconda,” where the music video features her and several other black women twerking. But even past Nikki Minaj, there’s new rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who, although having developed an original sound, seems to have traces of Kim and Minaj in her music. On her song “Big Ole Freak,” Megan raps,

“Pop it, pop it, daydreaming ‘bout how I rock it.

He hit my phone with a horse so I know that mean come over and ride it.”

Posing a compelling contrast to “Big Ole Freak,” is another MC, Doja Cat. In the music video for her song “Juicy,” Doja dances to her lyrics that sound like a mash up of Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj, rapping,

“He like the Doja and the Cat,

yeah, He like it thick he like it fat,

Like to keep him wanting more.”

Though Doja’s music has traces of that jezebel stereotype with sexual desire, there’s a positive aspect to it as well. With all of the sexual innuendos in “Juicy,” at its core, the song is about body positivity. While rapping about that “natural beauty,” Doja features women of all shapes and sizes in her music video and is unapologetic about her figure–it’s as if her message is more about empowerment than it is sex. Megan Thee Stallion also incorporates empowerment for women in her raps with the term she coined “Hot Girl Summer,” which to Megan, is where women are unapologetic about their sexuality and simply enjoying life. At the same time, women in rap have also always put forth some positive sentiment in their music. One of the pioneering rap artists for women were MC’s like Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, and MC Lyte. For example, in her song U.N.I.T.Y., Queen Latifah begins her verse by rapping,

“Every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a ho,

Tryna make a sister feel low, You know all of that gots to go.”

So, are the rappers today merely facilitating the jezebel stereotype and sexualization of black women? True, the messages in their music are reminiscent of some aspects of the jezebel trope, but there’s an aspect of positivity that challenges this reductionist view. It could also be that rappers like Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion are just smart entrepreneurs who understand that sex sells and are simply capitalizing on an opportunity. But these rappers might also be changing the sexualization of black woman by taking over the narrative for themselves.

But what does this mean for the rest of us? How does this help the black women who have to endure that stereotype everyday? They don’t have the platform like Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion do to start trends and see its impact. But maybe that’s where trends like “Hot Girl Summer” come in handy here. While the music and image from rap artists like Doja and Megan seem negative to some, it’s a form of empowerment for black women. Perhaps listening to “Juicy” lets some black women feel proud about their bodies and trends like “Hot Girl Summer” let them feel unapologetic about their bodies. Simultaneously, it’s important to understand that as time passes, stereotypes–how we define people–change meaning or lose meaning completely. But with that said, it’s still important to not forget the history of where those ideas came from.

Some Hospitals Sue Their Delinquent Patients. Should They?

photograph of coin jar spilling out on top of medical bills

Despite the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — i.e., Obamacare — in 2010, health care reform remains a contentious political issue. Costly procedures and huge medical bills still pose insurmountable financial burdens for many Americans — even those who are insured; thus, the appetite to ameliorate the pain remains. As reported in a recent CNBC article, a recent study concluded that 66.5% of all bankruptcies were related to medical issues. Whatever the positive effects of health insurance reform have been, it has not provided full protection for people from the threat of financial ruin because of unpaid medical bills.

Are there policies that healthcare systems and hospitals have instituted that may be exacerbating this problem? Indeed. Some hospitals will sue their patients for these unpaid medical bills, thus subjecting some patients to the additional expenses and stresses of navigating the legal system. Now, not all hospitals do this, and some hospitals sue their patients much more than others. A recent NPR article covered a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that showed that 36% of hospitals in Virginia sued patients and garnished wages in 2017. What’s more, just 5 hospitals accounted for more than half of the lawsuits, and all but one of these hospitals were non-profit institutions. As such, it is important to recognize this as a choice made by certain hospitals, rather than a widely accepted and unavoidable practice. In fact, hospitals have other choices to make regarding unpaid debts. These debts could be passed to collection agencies or written off as “bad debt.”

Hospitals, of course, face financial pressures of their own, and suing and garnishing to recoup unpaid medical debt is one strategy for easing these pressures. Hospitals defend the practice as both legal and transparent. Detractors claim that the practice violates the ethos of hospitals, understood as institutions that exist for the community benefit. We can approach the underlying divide in this debate in terms of whether healthcare is morally special. If health care is not special — if it is a normal consumer good just like other consumer goods — then it is fitting and proper to treat trade in healthcare goods as subject to contract law, where the courts play a vital role in ensuring fairness in economic relations. On the other hand, if health care is morally special — if it is not just like other consumer goods because it has some essential connection to the concerns of justice — then different rules governing economic conflicts in the exchange of health care goods ought to apply.

Presume that we are treat healthcare like any other good. By receiving healthcare services, customers implicitly agree to pay for them. By refusing to pay, they have broken this implicit contract. The courts exist as a transparent, politically legitimate, and unbiased enforcer of these contracts, ensuring that what debts have legally and properly been incurred do get paid. If service providers are not given the public assurance that they will be paid for the services they provide, then they would have to take on the extra risk of either losing out on payments or the extra burden of trying to collect on their own. Hospitals, thus, have a legal right to sue their patients, and it is fitting that they do.

If healthcare is a different kind of good — if healthcare is considered somehow special — then the above standard analysis of why service providers ought to have a right to sue no longer applies so neatly. Two observations can be made to suggest healthcare ought to be treated as special. First, healthcare exists to protect, maintain, and enhance a person’s health. Though through most of human history, our abilities to significantly affect the course of diseases had been limited, technological and social advances of the 20th and 21st century have produced a healthcare system that indeed can prolong the length and enhance the quality of lives. Having a life, of course, is a precondition of living a good life. Sickness and premature death limit the opportunities of living a life according to one’s life-plan. If justice entails the principal that society ought to foster equal opportunity, then healthcare has special moral significance because of its connection to health and, therefore, life opportunities. This is the basic argument made by Norman Daniels in his 1985 book Just Health Care.

Healthcare’s special status may also be rooted in vulnerability. The instinctive value we place on protecting our own health and well-being makes us vulnerable to exploitation when our health is threatened. The standard model outlined above presumes that the consumer will act rationally and take into consideration things like price and need when purchasing a product. And yet for the need of prolonging one’s own life and health, there is often no price we wouldn’t accept. This is not to say that reforms to the healthcare system that would force hospitals to be more transparent about price wouldn’t be a welcome change. Rather, I doubt that this change alone would significantly protect patients’ vulnerability to exploitation on this matter.

Considering these observations, one may argue, healthcare should be given a special status, and standard norms of contract law ought not to define the rights and responsibilities of providers in attempting to collect on medical debts. If we follow this line of argument, we are still stuck with the obvious rejoinder that providers deserve to be compensated for their vital labor. We should not expect them to work for free. I think this quite quickly pushes us down the path of envisioning publicly funded schemes to finance health care, whether that be a single-payer model or some other mixed system. If healthcare’s moral importance undercuts the private rights of economic actors in the healthcare market, then public obligations ought to step in to ensure a scheme that distributes care to those in need and adequately compensates the caregivers central to the system.

Commodification and Exploitation in Egg Donation

image of ovarian follicles

Egg donation is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which a woman donates eggs to equip another woman to conceive a child. The process of egg donation usually involves in vitro fertilization technology, as the eggs undergo fertilization in a laboratory, or alternatively, the unfertilized egg can be frozen and stored to be used at a later time. Regulated according to guidelines set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, this form of ART has gained momentum in the US and around the world since the first child was born from egg donation in Australia in 1983. In the US today, egg donation accounts for about 18% of IVF births.

While the allowance of compensation for egg donors varies by the country, egg donors in the US are compensated up to $8,000 on average for the retrieval of eggs. While egg donation is a sought-after fix for those unable to conceive and stands to provide real benefits to donors and recipients alike, this form of IVF can be a sensitive subject as it raises a number of medical ethics questions.

A common concern raised by medical ethicists regarding egg donation is the type of consent obtained in the process of donating eggs. Although most donor recruiting agencies cite altruism and reliability as the most desirable qualities in a donor, the incentive of monetary compensation could hinder a donor’s capacity to make coherent and informed decisions. Studies have shown that donors motivated by financial incentives suffer more emotional trauma from the process and have a higher probability of regretting their decision than women who express altruistic motivations. In part to avoid risking the commodification of motherhood, nations such as the UK and Australia have ruled any form of monetary compensation to the egg donor to be illegal.

However, Lori Andrews (1992) notes that more often than not, “when society suggests that a certain activity should be done for altruism rather than money, it is generally a woman’s activity.” In agreement with Andrews, sociologist Anna Curtis argues, in her 2010 article Giving ‘Til It Hurts: Egg Donation and the Costs of Altruism, that women should be sufficiently compensated if egg donation is to remain legal in the US, due to the health risks the procedure poses, the emotional strain a donor is subjected to by donating an egg, and the time spent going through and recovering from the procedure.

Due to the technical and invasive nature of egg donation, donors may lack a complete understanding of all the potential short-term as well as long-term risks associated with donating eggs. Curtis also argues that the donors’ emotional investment can cause them to downplay the risks of the procedure. Curtis’ research suggests that not only did donors experience joy over a successful donation, but they also felt guilty when the procedure failed. When Curtis questioned donors regarding their knowledge of health risks associated with egg donation, she found that the women claimed to give “little or no thought to the possible short- or long-term risks involved in donating, despite their ability to list many of these very risks,” demonstrating that even if the donors are aware of the risks, they may not seriously consider the likelihood of these risks affecting them in the future, possibly because of their emotional investment in the egg donation process.

Furthermore, egg donation is a costly process — not only in terms of the emotional and physical strain put on the donor, but also in terms of the financial expenses for the recipient. The inequality of access to ART means that reproductive technology is a viable option exclusively to the wealthy. The feasibility of egg donation must therefore be analyzed recognizing that there may be a large demographic of infertile individuals who would choose ART to conceive a child had they the financial means, but are not able to so due to the high cost of reproductive technology.

The eugenic commodification of egg donors is an additional ethical concern regarding egg donation. Advertisements directed towards egg donors usually depict specific racial, physical, and intellectual characteristics as desirable, making it clear that the agencies are recruiting a certain type of woman whether it be based on ethnicity, height, or even scores obtained on standardized tests. This emphasis on eugenics perpetuates the commodification and exploitation of women’s bodies, reducing the female body to a product with reproductive value.

With these ethical concerns in mind, infertility specialists, agencies that recruit egg donors, as well as recipients of the donated egg must consider the multifaceted implications of egg donation when assessing regulations regarding egg donation. By doing so, individuals and agencies alike can make equitable and informed decisions concerning the emotional, physical, and monetary costs of egg donation to both the donors and the recipients.

The Shifting Ethical Landscape of Online Shopping

An image of an abandoned mall.

Throughout the course of 2017, after a disappointing bottom line during the 2016 holiday season, Macy’s department store closed 100 of its locations nationwide.  Gap Inc. announced last year that it would close 200 underperforming Gap and Banana Republic locations, with an eye toward shifting greater focus to online sales.  Shopping malls across the country resemble ghost towns—lined with the empty façades of the retail giants that once were.

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Genetic Research in the Navajo Nation

A photo of Native Americans marching along a highway with flags.

In 2002, the Navajo Nation placed a moratorium on genetic research within its territorial jurisdiction.  Among the motivations were concerns about the misuse of data and the potential for privacy violations.  Many members of the Navajo Nation were opposed to the moratorium, primarily because of the medical benefits of genetic testing.  This month, the Navajo Nation announced that they are considering lifting the moratorium.

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