Return to Home Page Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Follow us on Youtube Rockefeller Institute of Government
Skip Navigation

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Health Care: Bioethics


Stem Cell Policy as Bar-Room Brawl: A Round in the Courts

The latest punch in the ongoing stem cell policy brawl has landed in federal court over the interpretation of a law restricting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. This round’s winners: advocates of such research. But the fight’s far from over.
James W. Fossett and Michelle N. Meyer, August 2011

Against One-Size-Fits-All Research Ethics

When the federal government funds research on human beings, researchers must follow regulations known as the “Common Rule” intended to protect their human subjects. Many observers believe the range of activities covered by the Common Rule under the label “human subjects research” has become unwieldy. Recent increases in methods of conducting research such as biobanking (research on stored biological samples) and Internet-based research (in which investigators recruit and interact with subjects online) have renewed objections to the Common Rule’s one-size-fits-all approach to research ethics. In this short column written for a technical audience, Rockefeller Institute Fellow Michelle N. Meyer argues that a more nuanced approach to research ethics is overdue.
Michelle N. Meyer, Hastings Center Report, September-October 2010

Bioethics at the Institute

The Institute's work in bioethics focuses on stem cell research, assisted reproductive technologies and more. In this series of interviews, our experts discuss this emerging field, and the role federal-state relations play in its development.
Democracy, Federalism and Moral Issues, May 2010
Ethical Issues in the Stem Cell Debate, June 2010
Politics and the Stem Cell Debate, June 2010
Regulating ART, July 2010
James W. Fossett and Michelle N. Meyer

The More Things Change:
The New NIH Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research

Many assumed that the Obama administration would usher in a sea change from the previous administration by expanding support from the National Insitutes of Health for human embryonic stem cell research and reducing the patchwork of state and federal regulations that currently governs it. In this article, Michelle N. Meyer and James W. Fossett of the Rockefeller Institute's Health Policy Research Center conclude that changes in stem cell research from the Bush era are actually likely to be limited in scope.
Michelle N. Meyer and James W. Fossett, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Fall 2009

States’ Regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technologies

This paper addresses the extent to which the rights of privacy and reproductive liberty protected by the United States Constitution prevent states from regulating assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). It concludes that under the best interpretation of the Supreme Court's existing case law, states have ample room to regulate individuals' decision to procreate, including decisions to use ARTs. States, pursuant to their police powers, may regulate ARTs in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens. However, courts will strictly scrutinize any regulation of procreation that distinguishes socially disfavored groups for different treatment. Similarly, even where a regulation would apply equally to all citizens, it must serve a legitimate governmental interest, rather than merely reflect “outmoded taboos.”
Michelle N. Meyer, July 2009

Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit:
Stem Cell Research Policy in an Obama Administration

This paper examines the current and likely future funding picture for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. It outlines the Bush administration’s regulatory and funding policies, inventories current state and private funding for stem cell research, and evaluates the factors likely to shape future stem cell funding. The author, who directs health and Medicaid studies at the Rockefeller Institute, concludes that while it seems likely the federal government may well harvest low-hanging legislative fruit that has already passed Congress by substantial margins, the odds of a major shift in federal stem cell policy, at least in the short run, are low.
James W. Fossett, Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, May 2009

Federalism & Bioethics: States and Moral Pluralism

Bioethicists are often interested mostly in national standards and institutions, but state governments have historically overseen a wide range of bioethical issues and share responsibility with the federal government for still others. States ought to have an important role. By allowing for multiple outcomes, the American federal system allows a better fit between public opinion and public policies.
James Fossett, Alicia R. Ouellette, Sean Philpott, David Magnus, and Glenn McGee, Hastings Center Report, November-December 2007

Federalism by Necessity:
State and Private Support for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

States and private foundations are spending substantial amounts on human embryonic stem cell research and are likely to continue to do so, according to James W. Fossett of the Rockefeller Institute's Federalism and Bioethics Initiative. In response to a political gridlock in Washington over federal funding for this research, states and private foundations have devoted unusually large amounts of money to support this research in a number of ways. It seems likely that this situation will continue even past the elections of 2008, no matter who wins.
James W. Fossett, August 9, 2007

Bioethics and Politics: Past, Present, and Future

Presentation at a conference on Politics and Bioethics sponsored by the Center for American Progress.
James Fossett and Dr. Glenn McGee, John A. Balint Professor of Medical Ethics and director, Alden March Bioethics Institute, Albany Medical College, April 21, 2006

Lessons from Across the Pond: Assisted Reproductive Technology in the United Kingdom and the United States

This article from the American Journal of Law and Medicine examines the regulation of assisted reproduction in England and the United States.
Alicia Ouellette, Arthur Caplan, Kelly Carroll, James W. Fossett, Dyrleif Bjarnadottir, Darren Shickle, and Glenn McGee, American Journal of Law & Medicine, 2005