Skip navigation

Holly Fernandez Lynch

Holly Fernandez Lynch is Executive Director at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School and a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics.

Titles by This Author

An Institutional Compromise

Physicians in the United States who refuse to perform a variety of legally permissible medical services because of their own moral objections are often protected by “conscience clauses.” These laws, on the books in nearly every state since the legalization of abortion by Roe v. Wade, shield physicians and other health professionals from such potential consequences of refusal as liability and dismissal.

Titles by This Editor

Ethics and Policy Implications

Advances in medicine often depend on the effective collection, storage, research use, and sharing of human biological specimens and associated data. But what about the sources of such specimens? When a blood specimen is drawn from a vein in your arm, is that specimen still you? Is it your property, intellectual or otherwise? Should you be allowed not only to consent to its use in research but also to specify under what circumstances it may be used? These and other questions are at the center of a vigorous debate over the use of human biospecimens in research.

Perspectives on the Future

The current framework for the regulation of human subjects research emerged largely in reaction to the horrors of Nazi human experimentation, revealed at the Nuremburg trials, and the Tuskegee syphilis study, conducted by U.S. government researchers from 1932 to 1972. This framework, combining elements of paternalism with efforts to preserve individual autonomy, has remained fundamentally unchanged for decades.