Several bioethical topics received a great deal of news coverage here in Scotland in 2009. Three important issues with transatlantic connections are the swine flu outbreak, which was handled very differently in Scotland, England, and America; the U.S. debate over healthcare reform, which drew the British National Health Service (NHS) into the controversy; and the release to Libya of the Lockerbie bomber, which at first glance might not seem particularly bioethical, but which actually hinged on the very public discussion of the prisoner’s medical records. On a national level, there have been attempts in both Scotland and England to change the law on assisted suicide, where success looks more likely than ever. This paper discusses each of these issues and hopefully will raise awareness of how these issues were dealt with in the United Kingdom and its component countries.
David M. Shaw, D.Lett., is Lecturer in Ethics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Glasgow and an associate of the Centre for Applied Ethics and Legal Philosophy. He is the author of the book Genetic Morality, sits on university and National Health Service research and clinical ethics committees, and has edited several medical journals.