Timeline of medical ethics

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This is a timeline of medical ethics. This timeline is closely related to Timeline of bioethics.

Sample questions

The following are some interesting questions that can be answered by reading this timeline:

  • What are some of the multiple topics and sub–fields related to the field of medical ethics covered in this timeline?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Main topic".
    • You will see a variety of topics within or highly related to the field of medical ethics.
  • What are some notable or illustrative codes of ethics having been adopted by governments and institutions?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Adoption".
    • You will see a number of codes of ethics and guidelines being adopted. You will also see some notable amendments.
  • What are some notable cases related to various subfields of medical ethics?
  • What are some notable and illustrative publications related to the field of medical ethics?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Literature".
    • You will see a variety of books and journals specialized or highly related to the field.
  • What are some organizations focused or highly related to medical ethics?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Organization".
    • You will mostly see a number of organizations established by governments with aims to address the topic, as concern increases along with the progress in medicine.
  • Other events are described under the following types: "Field development", "Legal", "Notable statement", "Program launch", "Research", "Statistics", "Service launch", and "Social movement".

Big picture

Time period Development summary More details
Before 1970s Prelude The term medical ethics first dates back to the early 19th century, when English author and physician Thomas Percival publishes a document describing the requirements and expectations of medical professionals within medical facilities. The Code of Ethics is adapted in 1847, relying heavily on Percival's words.[1] In the 1960s, the Hippocratic Oath is changed to require "utmost respect for human life from its beginning", making it a more secular obligation, not to be taken in the presence of God or any gods, but before only other people. By this time, however, a wide range of new ethical problems emerge, all of them driven by spectacular advances in medicine and biology.[2]
1970s Field emergence The field of applied ethics emerges from debate surrounding rapid medical and technological advances in the early decade.[3][4][5] A notable aspect of the emergence of more systematic and theoretically sophisticated medical ethics and bioethics in the 1970s was the ground-breaking application óf broad-based ethical theories like utilitarianism and Kantian ethics directly to issues in medical practice, such as paternalism and end-of-life decision-making.[6]
1980s Increased awareness More attention is payed ethical issues, revealing some excesses of medical research and medical paternalism conflicting with ethical principles.[7] The United Nations Principles of Medical Ethics is adopted.
1990s Continued changes The field of medical ethics undergoes changes. Individual clinical issues, especially those related to death and dying, continue to create conflict and preoccupy hospital staffs. But professional ethicists focus on social concerns more frequently than they have in the past. Clinical practice and the law move toward less demanding standards of proof regarding the withdrawal of treatment from patients who are no longer competent.[8]
2000s Particular focus In this decade, euthanasia becomes the most active area of research in bioethics.[9]

Numerical and visual data

Google Scholar

The following table summarizes per-year mentions on Google Scholar as of August 10, 2021.

Year "medical ethics" "bioethics"
1900 50 12
1910 57 11
1920 29 21
1930 43 33
1940 38 25
1950 126 30
1960 163 74
1970 300 218
1980 945 1,460
1990 2,420 3,740
2000 5,910 8,780
2010 13,400 16,300
2020 28,000 28,200
Medical ethics google schoolar.png

Google Trends

The image below shows Google Trends data for Medical ethics (Topic), from January 2004 to March 2021, when the screenshot was taken. Interest is also ranked by country and displayed on world map.[10]

Medical ethics gt.png

Google Ngram Viewer

The chart below shows Google Ngram Viewer data for Medical ethics, from 1700 to 2019.[11]

Medical ethics ngram.png

Wikipedia Views

The chart below shows pageviews of the English Wikipedia article Medical ethics, on desktop, mobile-web, desktop-spider, mobile-web-spider and mobile app, from July 2015 to February 2021.[12]

Medical ethics wv.png

Full timeline

Year Main topic Event type Details Location
275 AD Ethical code Adoption The oldest partial fragments of the Hippocratic Oath date to around this time.[13] Greece (ancient)
1588 Contraception, abortion Adoption Pope Sixtus V adopts a papal bull adopting the position of Thomas Aquinas that contraception and abortion are crimes against nature and sins against marriage.[14] Italy (Papal States)
1775 – 1780 Organ trade Field development German philosopher Immanuel Kant in his lectures on ethics argues against the sale of human body parts.[15] Germany (Kingdom of Prussia)
1779 Ethical code Literature German physician Johann Peter Frank writes strict ethical guidelines for public health and sanitation to improve the quality of life.[16] Germany
1794 Ethical code Literature English physician Thomas Percival writes the first modern code of medical ethics.[17][18] United Kingdom
1796 Unethical human experimentation Notable case English physician Edward Jenner inoculates eight-year-old James Phipps with fluid from a cowpox pustule to immunize him against smallpox.[19][20] United Kingdom
1847 Ethical code Policy The American Medical Association adopts its first code of ethics, with this being based in large part upon the work of Thomas Percival.[21] United States
1874 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Robert Bartholomew inserts electrodes into a hole in the skull of Mary Rafferty caused by a tumor. He notes that small amounts electric current caused bodily movements and that larger amounts caused pain. Rafferty, who was mentally ill, falls into a coma and dies a few days after the experiment.[22]
1885 Unethical human experimentation Notable case French biologist Louis Pasteur administers an experimental rabies vaccine to nine-year-old Joseph Meister without testing it on animals first.[23][24][25] France
1897 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Italian bacteriologist Giuseppe Sanarelli injects the yellow fever bacteria into five patients without their consent. All the patients develop the disease and three die.[26][27][28] Italy
1900 Unethical human experimentation Notable case United States Army scientist Walter Reed gathers volunteers in Cuba willing to be bitten by mosquitoes to see whether the insects carried yellow fever.[29] Thirty-three participants, including eighteen Americans and six Cubans, are exposed to mosquitoes infected with yellow fever or injected with blood from yellow fever patients. Six participants die.[30][31][32] Cuba
1907 Blacklisting Notable case The Transvaal Medical Union in South Africa blacklists patients if they can not pay cash in advance.[33] South Africa
1918 – 1922 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California are subjected to numerous medical procedures, including receiving transplanted testicles from recently executed prisoners. During the research, headed by Dr. Leo L. Stanley, many men receive transplanted sex organs from rams, goats, and boars.[34] United states
1920 Abortion Policy (reproductive rights) Vladimir Lenin legalizes all abortions in the Soviet Union[35][36] Soviet Union
1932 Unethical human experimentation Notable case The Tuskegee syphilis experiment begins. Carried out by the Public Health Service at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, the experiment would last 40 years. Nearly 400 hundred of the 600 poor, rural sharecroppers taking part would never be told they had syphilis, nor be treated for it. Instead, they would be given “free healthcare,” meals, and burial money as researchers study how untreated syphilis progress.[34][37][38][39] United States
1932 Literature (journal) Peer-reviewed academic journal The Linacre Quarterly is established. It primarily focuses on the relationship between medicine and spirituality, and in particular on medical ethics.[40] United States
1932–1945 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Japanese scientists working at Unit 731 conduct abominable experiments on thousands of Chinese war prisoner. Experiments include biological and chemical weapons experiments, vaccination experiments, and wound-healing and surgical studies, including vivisections.[41] China
1937 Literature Scottish novelist A. J. Cronin publishes The Citadel, which becomes notable for its treatment of the contentious theme of medical ethics.[42] It is credited with laying the foundation in Great Britain for the introduction of the NHS a decade later.[43] United Kingdom
1938 Ethical code Adoption The Osteopathic Oath is first used in the United States.[44] United States
1939 Unethical human experimentation Notable case The Monster Study, as it is known, is conducted as a stuttering experiment performed on 22 orphan children in Davenport, Iowa, and led by Wendell Johnson at the University of Iowa. In the experiment, half of the children receive positive speech therapy, praising the fluency of their speech, and the other half, negative speech therapy, belittling the children for speech imperfections. Many of the normal speaking orphan children who received negative therapy in the experiment would suffer negative psychological effects, with some retaining speech problems for the rest of their lives.[45] United States
1940s Unethical human experimentation Notable case Scientists test mustard gas by compelling U.S. Navy men to enter gas chambers. One goes temporarily blind. When nitrogen mustard is discovered, doctors inject it into a patient dying of lymphosarcoma and notice that his tumors recede, sparking the beginning of chemotherapy. United States
1943–1944 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Nazi human experimentation, with Josef Mengele as central leader, is conducted in this period, consisting in morally abominable research on concentration camp prisoners, including experiments exposing subjects to freezing temperatures, low air pressures, ionizing radiation and electricity, and infectious diseases; as well as wound-healing and surgical studies.[46] German-occupied Europe
1945 Unethical human experimentation Notable case In an experiment, 829 pregnant women at a health clinic run by Vanderbilt University are administered drugs that they were told were good for them and their babies. The drugs actually contain radioactive iron. A follow-up study during the 1960s would conclude that three children born to women who took the pills likely died because of the tests.[47][48] United States
1946 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology conduct experiment consisting in feeding oatmeal that includes radioactive iron and calcium to 74 mentally deficient and disabled boys at the Walter E. Fernald State School in Massachusetts.[49] United States
1946 – 1948 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Guatemala syphilis experiment is conducted by the United States, during the administration of U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Guatemalan President Juan José Arévalo with the cooperation of some Guatemalan health ministries and officials. A team of U.S. doctors infect 700 Guatemalans with syphilis to test penicillin.[29] Guatemala
1947 Ethical code Adoption The Nuremberg Code is adopted as a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation. It is set as a result of the Subsequent Nuremberg trials at the end of the Second World War.[50] Germany
1948 Ethical code Adoption The Declaration of Geneva is adopted by the World Medical Association.[51][52] Switzerland
1949 Literature (publication) The Seven Sins of Medicine are published by British endocrinologist Richard Asher in The Lancet as a perspective on medical ethics.[53] United Kingdom
1949 Organization The Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences is established.[54][55]
1949 Ethical code Adoption The International Code of Medical Ethics is adopted by the third General Assembly of the World Medical Association (WMA) at London.[56] United Kingdom
1951 Medical privacy Notable case Doctors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore take samples of patient Henrietta Lacks' cancerous cells while diagnosing and treating the disease. They give some of that tissue to a researcher without Lacks’s knowledge or consent. The product derived, called HeLa would become the cornerstone of an industry. In the laboratory, her cells would prove to have an extraordinary capacity to survive and reproduce; they were, in essence, immortal.[57] United States
1953 Unethical human experimentation Notable case The Project MKUltra is officially sanctioned as a program of experiments on human subjects designed and undertaken by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, some of which would be illegal. Experiments on humans would be intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations in order to weaken the individual and force confessions through mind control.[58] United States
1954 Ethical code Adoption A new version of the Osteopathic Oath is adopted in the United States.[44][59] United States
1954 Literature (book) Joseph F. Fletcher publishes Morals and Medicine: The Moral Problems of the Patient’s Right to Know the Truth, Contraception, Artificial Insemination, Sterilization, and Euthanasia.[60][50]
1956–1980 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Research team led by Saul Krugman and Joan Giles conducts hepatitis experiments on mentally disabled children at The Willowbrook State School. The subjects are intentionally infected with the disease and researchers ovserve its natural progression. The experiments are approved by the New York Department of Health.[61][62] United States
1956 – 1970 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Mentally retarded children held at the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, New York are infected with hepatitis so that doctors there could track the spread of the viral infection and how it responds to gamma globulin injections. More than 700 children are infected. The school closes later in 1987 after public outcry about overcrowding and the filthy conditions.[34] United States
1959 Jewish medical ethics Literature (book) Immanuel Jakobovits publishes Jewish Medical Ethics: A Comparative and Historical Study of the Jewish Religious Attitude to Medicine and Its Practice.[63]
1960s Unethical human experimentation Notable case Experimentation in prisons become widespread in the United States, which becomes the only Western country that runs tests on inmates after World War II.[29] United States
1961 Unethical human experimentation Notable case The Milgram Experiment is conducted to test how far a subject would go to earn approval of an authority figure. The experiment is thought to violate many ethical standards due to extenuating emotional conflict and stress.[64][65] United States
1964 Ethical code Adoption The Declaration of Helsinki is created in order to provide researchers and physicians with ethical guidelines. It is developed for the medical community by the World Medical Association.[50][66] The document comprises a set of ethical principles regarding human experimentation.[67] It is widely regarded as the cornerstone document on human research ethics.[67][68][69] Finland
1964 Ethical code Adoption American physician Louis Lasagna writes a modernized version of the Hippocratic Oath, which emphasizes a holistic and compassionate approach to medicine. The "Lasagna Oath" would be adopted by many medical colleges, and is still in use today in the United States.[70] United States
1966 Jewish medical ethics Organization The Schlesinger Institute for Medical-Halachic Research is founded.[71][72] Israel
1966 Organization The first medical ethics committees in Europe emerge in the United Kingdom and Sweden.[73] United Kingdom, Sweden
1966 Literature American anesthesiologist Henry K. Beecher publishes an article in The New England Journal of Medicine exposing 22 unethical studies in biomedicine, including the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and the Willowbrook hepatitis study.[74][75][76] United States
1968 Ethical code Adoption The International Code of Medical Ethics (adopted in 1949) is amended by the twenty-second World Medical Assembly at Sydney.[56] Australia
1970 Literature (book) Paul Ramsey publishes The Patient as Person: Explorations in Medical Ethics.[77][50]
1973 Literature (journal) The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics is first issued. It is published by the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics.[78] United States
1974 Policy The United States Congress passes the National Research Act, which authorizes federal agencies to develop human research regulations.[79] United States
1975 Literature (journal) The American Journal of Law & Medicine is launched.[80] United States
1975 Literature (journal) The Journal of Medical Ethics is launched.[81][82]
1975 Right to die Social movement The right to die movement begins in the United States with the case of Karen Quinlan, an American woman who was in persistent vegetative state for ten years.[83] United States
1975 Medical torture Adoption The Declaration of Tokyo is adopted by the 29th World Medical Assembly as a set of international guidelines for physicians concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in relation to detention and imprisonment.[84][85] Japan
1978 In vitro fertilization Notable case Louise Brown becomes the world’s first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization.[86][87][74] United Kingdom
1978 Unethical human experimentation Notable case Medical torture is performed on political prisoners held at the infamous prison Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh under the Khmer Rouge.[88] Cambodia
1978 Organization The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors is formed.[89]
1979 Organization The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences officially establishes its own private central ethical committee.[73] Switzerland
1979 Literature The Belmont Report is published by the U.S. National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. It provides the conceptual foundation for a major revision of the research regulations in 1981 in the United States.[90][91] United States
1979 Literature Peer-reviewed academic journal IRB: Ethics & Human Research is launched. It covers bioethical aspects of research using human subjects. It is published by The Hastings Center.[92] United States
1979 Organization The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences officially establishes its own private central ethical committee.[73] Switzerland
1979 Organization The Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics is established in Saint Louis, Missouri.[93][94] United States
1979 Literature The Belmont Report is released by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. The Report becomes a key document in human research ethics regulations in the United States.[74][95] United States
1979 Literature (book) Tom Beauchamp publishes Principles of biomedical ethics.[96]
1980 Literature (journal) Bimonthly peer-reviewed medical journal Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics is first issued.[97]
1981 Organization Japan establishes its first ethics committee, at the Medical Institute of Tokyo University.[73] Japan
1981 Clinical Medicine Organization The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics is founded. Founded by Mark Siegler, it is a non-profit clinical medical ethics research institute promoting research in the field.[98][99] United States
1982 Ethical code Adoption United Nations Principles of Medical Ethics is adopted by the United Nations as a code of medical ethics relating to the "roles of health personnel in the protection of persons against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."[100][101]
1983 Ethical code Adoption The International Code of Medical Ethics is amended by the thirty-fifth World Medical Assembly at Venice.[56] Italy
1985 Literature (book) Zhi-zheng Du's Outline of Medical Ethics is published in China as the first systematic textbook of medical ethics after the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.[102] China
1987 Organization The European Society for Philosophy of Medicine and Health Care is founded by an international company of philosophers, physicians, ethicists and other interested professionals in the field.[103]
1987 Ethical code Concept development Benjamin Freedman introduces the term clinical equipoise (also known as the principle of equipoise), which provides the ethical basis for medical research that involves assigning patients to different treatment arms of a clinical trial.[104][105]
1988 Literature (book) Zhao-xiong He's History of Chinese Medical Morality is published, providing material on medical ethics from ancient to current China.[102] China
1989 Literature (journal) Peer-reviewed academic journal Accountability in Research is established.[106]
1990 Human genome research Program launch The Human Genome Project is launched by the United States as a US$20 billion effort to map and sequence the human genome.[107][108] United States
1990 Notable case American physician William French Anderson begins the first human gene therapy clinical trial on patients with adenosine deaminase deficiency, a genetic disease that affects the immune system.[109][110] United States
1992 Ethical code Adoption The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief is drawn up by the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) to set ethical standards for organizations involved in humanitarian work.[111]
1992 Literature (journal) Peer-reviewed academic journal Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics is established.[112] United Kingdom
1993 Literature (journal) The Indian Journal of Medical Ethics is launched.[113] India
1993 Human cloning Notable case Researchers successfully clone human embryos.[74]
1993 Literature (journal) Peer-reviewed law review Medical Law International is established. It covers issues in medical law, bioethics, and health governance.[114] United States
1994 Data fraud Notable case Montreal surgeon Roger Poisson admits to fabricating and falsifying patient data in NIH-funded breast cancer clinical trials in order allow his patients to qualify for enrollment and have access to experimental treatments.[115][116] Canada
1994 Unethical human experimentation Notable case The United States Government declassifies information about secret human radiation experiments conducted from the 1940s-1980s and issues an apology.[74] United States
1994 Unethical human experimentation Organization The Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments is formed to investigate questions of the record of the United States government with respect to human radiation experiments.[117][118] United States
1994 Health law Literature (journal) The European Journal of Health Law is first issued.[119] Netherlands
1994 Nursing ethics Literature (journal) Peer-reviewed academic journal Nursing Ethics is first issued.[120] United Kingdom
1994 Literature (book) American philosophers Tom Beauchamp and James Childress publish The principles of biomedical ethics, in which they state their basic principles of bioethics as "the principle of respect for patient autonomy, which has grounded, in particular, the concept of informed consent; dates back to the Hippocratic principle of “do no harm,” which requires minimization of damage to the patient during the medical intervention; the principle of “do good” (beneficence), emphasizing the physician’s responsibility to take positive steps to improve the condition of the patient; and the principle of justice, emphasizing the need for fairness and equal treatment of patients, and equitable distribution of resources (which are always limited) in the provision of medical care".[121] United States
1997 Unethical human experimentation Notable case United States President Bill Clinton formally apologizes on behalf of the United States to victims of the syphilis study at Tuskegee.[122][123] United States
1997 Human Genome research Adoption The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights is issued by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its 29th session. It is perhaps best known for its statement against human cloning and abuse of human genome against human dignity.[124][125]
1997 Euthanasia (assisted suicide) Policy The Constitutional Court of Colombia decriminalises piety homicide, for terminally ill patients, stating that "the medical author cannot be held responsible for the assisted suicide of a terminally ill patient" and urges Congress to regulate voluntary euthanasia "in the shortest time possible".[126] Colombia
1997 Education Service launch The first research ethics consultation (REC) service is established at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center. REC describes a formal way for researchers to solicit and receive expert ethical guidance related to biomedical research.[127] United States
1998 Biomedical research Literature (book) American bioethicist Baruch Brody publishes The Ethics of Biomedical Research.[128] United States
1998 Literature (journal) Medicine Health Care and Philosophy is launched by the European Society For Philosophy Of Medicine And Healthcare.[103] Europe
1998 Literature (book) Allen M. Hornblum publishes Acres of Skin, which documents clinical non-therapeutic medical experiments on prison inmates at Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia from 1951 to 1974, conducted under the direction of dermatologist Albert Kligman.[129] United States
1998 Stem cell controversy Notable case Methods for growing human embryonic stem cells are perfected. Some countries ban the research; others promote it.[74][130][131][132]
1998 Literature (journal) Quarterly peer-reviewed medical journal Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy is launched.[133]
1999 Reproductive technology, human genetics Organization Human Genetics Alert is founded in London.[134] It advocates against uses of reproductive technology and human genetics research, which it considers harmful.[135] United Kingdom
1999 Education Policy The National Institutes of Health and the Office for Human Research Protections require all people conducting or overseeing human subjects research have some training in research ethics.[74] United States
1999 Policy The United States National Institutes of Health and the Office for Human Research Protections require all people conducting or overseeing human subjects research to have training in research ethics.[74] United States
2000 Organization The Office for Human Research Protections is established.[136] United States
2000 Ethical code Adoption The Declaration of Helsinki is revised.[137] This revision requires monitoring of scientific research on human subjects to assure ethical standards are being met.[138] Finland
2000 Literature (book) American lawyer and author Wesley J. Smith publishes Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America, which describes medical ethics as a field in crisis. This book would be named Best Health Book of the Year at the 2001 Independent Publishers Book Awards.[139][140] United States
2000 Medical error Literature (report) The Institute of Medicine releases "To Err is Human," which asserts that the problem in medical errors is not bad people in health care but it is that good people are working in bad systems that need to be made safer.[141] United States
2001 Literature (journal) Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics is launched.[142] United States
2001 Human cloning Notable case The United States Congress starts debating legislation on human cloning.[74][143][144][145] United States
2001 Embryonic stem cell research Policy United Sates President George W. Bush introduces a ban on federal funding for research on newly created human embryonic stem cell lines. He also announces the creation of a special council to oversee stem cell research.[146] United States
2001 Philosophy of healthcare Program launch The United States federal government takes up an initiative to provide patients with an explicit list of rights concerning their healthcare. The political philosophy behind such an initiative essentially blends ideas of the Consumers' Bill of Rights with the field of healthcare. It is undertaken in an effort to ensure the quality of care of all patients by preserving the integrity of the processes that occur in the healthcare industry.[147] United States
2002 Euthanasia Notable case The Netherlands legalizes voluntary euthanasia.[148][149] Netherlands
2003 Adoption The International Bioethics Committee issues a second global instrument, the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data, which may be regarded as an extension of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights.[150][151]
2003 Notable case The Greenberg v. Miami Children's Hospital Research Institute takes place as a decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida which rules that individuals do not own their tissue samples when researchers take them for testing.[152] This case sets a precedent for determining ownership of donated tissue samples.[153][154] United States
2003 Literature (book) Tony Hope publishes Medical Ethics and Law: The Core Curriculum, a short textbook of medical ethics and law primarily aimed at medical students.[155]
2004 Literature Medical ethicist James Hughes publishes Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future, which argues that technologies pushing the boundaries of humanness can radically improve our quality of life if they are controlled democratically.[156] United States
2004 Literature (book) New Zelander ethics professor Nicholas Agar publishes Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement[157][158] New Zeland
2004 Military medical ethics Literature (book) Edmund D. Pelegrino and Anthony E. Hartle publish Military Medical Ethics, which addresses medical ethics within a military context.[159]
2004 Ethical code Adoption Poland publishes its medical ethics code Kodeks Etyki Lekarskiej.[160] Poland
2005 Adoption The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights is adopted by UNESCO.[161][162]
2006 Literature (journal) Quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal Clinical Ethics is launched.[163] United Kingdom
2006 Euthanasia Research By this time, euthanasia becomes the most active area of research in bioethics.[164]
2006 Literature (journal) The Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics is launched.[165] United States
2007 Unethical human experimentation Literature (book) Harriet A. Washington publishes Medical Apartheid, which recounts the history of medical experimentation on African Americans.[166] United States
2007 Ethics of circumcision Notable statement The World Health Organization states that provision of circumcision should be consistent with "medical ethics and human rights principles." They state that "[i]nformed consent, confidentiality and absence of coercion should be assured. ... Parents who are responsible for providing consent, including for the circumcision of male infants, should be given sufficient information regarding the benefits and risks of the procedure in order to determine what is in the best interests of the child."[167]
2008 Literature The Catholic Church publishes a document entitled Dignitas Personae, about a range of bioethical issues related to the areas of assisted reproduction and human genetics. The paper analizes and comments the bioethical thinking of the Catholic Church.[168][169][170]
2008 Literature (book) Candace C. Gauthier and John E. Snyder publish Evidence-Based Medical Ethics: Cases for Practice-Based Learning, which aims to address ethical and legal guidelines essential to the everyday practice of medicine.[171]
2008 Neuroethics Literature (journal) Triannual peer-reviewed academic journal Neuroethics is launched.[172]
2008 Policy The United States FDA publishes its decision to abandon the Declaration of Helsinki as a guide for clinical research ethics.[173] This allows the pharmaceutical industry to run international clinical trials in which patients in the control group can be treated with placebos instead of the best standard medical care.[174] United States
2008 Public health Literature (journal) Triannual peer-reviewed academic journal Public Health Ethics is launched.[175]
2009 Embryonic stem cell research Policy The Obama Administration announces it will significantly expand National Institutes of Health funding of human embryonic stem cell research which was restricted under the Bush Administration.[74][176] United States
2009 Ethical code Adoption Brazil publishes its Medical Ethics Code (Código de Ética Médica).[177] Brazil
2010 Human enhancement Literature (book) Nicholas Agar publishes Humanity's End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement. The book argues against the doctrine of radical enhancement sometimes identified with the transhumanist movement.[178] New Zeland
2011 Ethical code Adoption Spain publishes its medical ethics code Código de Deontología Médica. Guía de Ética Médica.[179] Spain
2016 Chimeras Legal The United States National Institutes of Health places a temporary moratorium on funding for experiments involving part-human and part-animal organisms known as chimeras.[180] United States
2016 Medical error Statistics According to a study from Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.[181] United States
2016 Medical torture Notable case A group consisting of 71 British medical doctors urge that Israel's membership in the World Medical Association should be revoked, alleging that Israeli doctors perform state-endorsed "medical torture" on Palestinians.[182] Israel
2016 Medical malpractice Legal A survey in the United States finds that 8.2 percent of physicians under the age of forty reported having been sued for malpractice during their careers, with 49.2 percent of physicians over the age of 54 reporting having been sued.[183] United States
2018 Euthanasia Policy The Supreme Court of India legalizes passive euthanasia in the country during a case involving Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who spent 37 years in a vegetative state as a result of sexual assault.[184][185] India
2018 Genome editing Notable case The birth of the world’s first gene edited babies, both girls, is announced by He Jiankui, a scientist of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China. Jiankui claims having used CRISPR-Cas 9 technology to modify the CCR5 gene to give the girls immunity to HIV. The announcement would generate outrage around the world and many scientists and policymakers would call for a ban on human germline, genome editing.[186][187][188] China

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