Timeline of medical ethics

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This is a timeline of medical ethics.

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Year Event type Details Location
1588 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.[1]
1775 – 1780 Field development German philosopher Immanuel Kant in his lectures on ethics argues against the sale of human body parts.[2]
1779 German physician Johann Peter Frank writes strict ethical guidelines for public health and sanitation to improve the quality of life. Germany
1794 English physician Thomas Percival writes first modern code of medical ethics.[3][4] United Kingdom
1847 The American Medical Association adopts its first code of ethics, with this being based in large part upon the work of Thomas Percival.[5] United States
1874 "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, fell into a coma and died a few days after the experiment."[6]
1897 Italian bacteriologist Giuseppe Sanarelli injects the yellow fever bacteria into five patients without their consent. All the patients develop the disease and three die.[7][8][9] Italy
1900 "Walter Reed experiments to determine the cause of yellow fever. Thirty-three participants, including eighteen Americans and six Cubans, were exposed to mosquitoes infected with yellow fever or injected with blood from yellow fever patients. Six participants died, including two researcher-volunteers. The participants all signed consent forms, some of which were translated into Spanish."[10][11][12]
1920 Policy (reproductive rights) Vladimir Lenin legalizes all abortions in the Soviet Union[13][14] Soviet Union
1932–1945 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.[15] China
1943–1944 Nazi human experimentation. "German scientists conducted morally abominable research on concentration camp prisoners, including experiments that exposed subjects to freezing temperatures, low air pressures, ionizing radiation and electricity, and infectious diseases; as well as wound-healing and surgical studies. " "The central leader of the experiments was Josef Mengele, who from 1943 to 1944 performed experiments on nearly 1,500 sets of imprisoned twins at Auschwitz. About 200 people survived these studies."[16]
1947 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.[17] Germany
1948 The Declaration of Geneva is adopted by the World Medical Association.[18][19] Switzerland
1954 Literature 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.[20][17]
1964 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.[17][21] Finland
1966 Organization The Schlesinger Institute for Medical-Halachic Research is founded.[22][23] Israel
1966 Organization The first medical ethics committees in Europe emerge in the United Kingdom and Sweden.[24] United Kingdom, Sweden
1966 Field development 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.[25][26][27] United States
1974 Policy The United States Congress passes the National Research Act, which authorizes federal agencies to develop human research regulations.[28] United States
1975 Literature (journal) American Journal of Law & Medicine[29] United States
1975 Literature (journal) The Journal of Medical Ethics is launched.[30][31]
1975 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.[32] United States
1978 Louise Brown becomes the world’s first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization.[33][34][25] United Kingdom
1978 Organization The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors is formed.[35]
1979 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.[36][37]
1979 Literature IRB: Ethics & Human Research[38]
1979 Organization The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences officially establishes its own private central ethical committee.[24] Switzerland
1979 Organization Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics[39][40] United States
1979 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.[25][41] United States
1980 Literature (journal) Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics[42]
1981 Organization Japan establishes its first ethics committee, at the Medical Institute of Tokyo University.[24] Japan
1981 Organization MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics[43][44] United States
1973 Literature (journal) The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics is first issued.[45]
1985 Literature 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.[46] 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.[47]
1988 Literature Zhao-xiong He's History of Chinese Medical Morality is published, providing material on medical ethics from ancient to current China.[46] China
1989 Literature (journal) Accountability in Research[48]
1990 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.[49][50] United States
1990 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.[51][52] United States
1991 "The 1991 Patient Self-Determination Act passed by the US Congress at the request of the financial arm of Medicare does permit elderly Medicare/Medicaid patients (and by implication, all "terminal" patients) to prepare an advance directive in which they elect or choose to refuse life-extending and/or life-saving treatments as a means of shortening their lives to shorten their suffering unto certain death. The treatment refused in an advance directive under US law, because of the 1991 PSDA, does not have to be proved to be "medically futile" under some existing due-process procedure developed under state laws, such as TADA in Texas."[53] United States
1992 Literature (journal) Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics[54] United Kingdom
1993 Journal The Indian Journal of Medical Ethics is launched.[55] India
1993 Scientific development Researchers successfully clone human embryos.[25]
1994 The United States Government declassifies information about secret human radiation experiments conducted from the 1940s-1980s and issues an apology.[25] United States
1994 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.[56][57] United States
1994 European Journal of Health Law[58]
1994 Nursing Ethics[59]
1994 Literature 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".[60] United States
1997 United States President Bill Clinton formally apologizes on behalf of the United States to victims of the syphilis study at Tuskegee.[61][62] United States
1997 Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights[63][64]
1997 "The Constitutional Court of Colombia decriminalised 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 urged Congress to regulate voluntary euthanasia "in the shortest time possible"."[65] Colombia
1997 "As the health of citizens is considered a police power left for individual states to regulate, it was not until 1997 that the US Supreme Court made a ruling on the issue of assisted suicide and one's right to die. That year, the Supreme Court heard two appeals arguing that New York and Washington statutes that made physician-assisted suicide a felony violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."[66] United States
1998 Literature (journal) Medicine Health Care and Philosophy is launched by the European Society For Philosophy Of Medicine And Healthcare.[47]
1998 Scientific development Methods for growing human embryonic stem cells are perfected. Some countries ban the research; others promote it.[25][67][68][69]
1998 Scientific development American biotechnologist Craig Venter forms Celera Genomics and begins a private effort to sequence the human genome, using dozens of automated sequencing machines.[25]
1998 Literature (journal) Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy[70]
1999 Organization Human Genetics Alert is founded in London.[71] It advocates against uses of reproductive technology and human genetics research that it considers harmful.[72]
1999 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.[25] 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.[25] United States
2000 Organization The Office for Human Research Protections is established.[73] United States
2001 The United States Government announces that the National Institutes of Health will fund research on approximately 64 embryonic stem cell lines created from leftover human embryos.[25] United States
2001 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics[74] United States
2001 Field development The United States Congress starts debating legislation on human cloning.[25] United States
2001 "Congress debates legislation on human cloning."[75][76][77] United States
2001 "The Bush Administration announces that the NIH will only fund human embryonic stem cell research on approximately 64 cell lines created from leftover human embryos."[78][79]
2002 The Netherlands legalizes voluntary euthanasia.[80][81] Netherlands
2003 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.[82][83]
2003 Organization The Regenerative Medicine Institute[84][85] Ireland
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.[86]
2004 Literature (book) Nicholas Agar publishes Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement[87][88]
2004 eTBLAST is established. It is a search engine designed to search similar texts within the MEDLINE database. eTBLAST would lead to research involving plagiarism and duplicate publications of articles in academic journals.[89][90]
2005 The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights is adopted by UNESCO.[91][92]
2006 Literature Quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal Clinical Ethics is launched.[93] United States
2006 Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics[94]
2008 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.[95][96][97]
2008 Neuroethics[98]
2008 Public Health Ethics[99]
2009 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.[25][100] United States
2010 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.[101]
2016 The United States National Institutes of Health places a temporary moratorium on funding for experiments involving human-animal chimeras.[102] United States
2018 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.[103][104] India
2018 "In October, He Jiankui, a scientist of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, announces the birth of the world’s first gene edited babies, both girls. He claims that he used CRISPR-Cas 9 technology to modify the CCR5 gene to give the girls immunity to HIV. The announcement generates outrage around the world and many scientists and policymakers call for a ban on human germline, genome editing."[105][106][107] China

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