10th Annual Bioethics at the Movies

This spring, the 10th Annual Bioethics at the Movies series was co-sponsored by the Student Health Law Association and the Center for Law, Health & Society. One of the most popular health law events, the series is open to all students at the College of Law as well as members of the health law community. The series features clips from movies and television and discussion on a wide range of topics in bioethics guided by health law faculty and guest speakers. Past years have addressed themes such as vaccination, human cloning, genetic enhancement, surrogacy and medical tourism.
Professors Jonathan Todres and Emily Suski kicked off the series with Mean Girls: A Case Study on Childhood Bullying. The movie takes a humorous but realistic look at the bullying in American high schools and students’ navigation of social groups and cliques. Todres and Suski discussed the indicia of bullying, its effects on victims, such as isolation, reduced academic success, poor physical and mental health and suicide, and possible opportunities for prevention, including state anti-bullying statutes.
Next, Professors Courtney Anderson, Erin Fuse Brown, and Patti Zettler co-hosted Dallas Buyers Club: Dollars, Drugs, and Disparities. The film follows the story of a newly diagnosed HIV patient in the mid-1980s who fought to obtain medication that the FDA had not yet approved. The professors engaged students in discussion about social disparities and discrimination, pharmaceutical research and development process, and factors involved in drug pricing and access to approved as well as unapproved drugs.
To conclude the series, Professor Yaniv Heled reprised the Monty Python Bioethics Corpus, with no shortage of clips of this infamous comedic group. A scene of medieval plague provided fodder for debate of the definition of death in various countries, cultures and time periods. Other clips spurred discussion on gender issues, organ transplants, obesity and chronic disease.
“Bioethics at the Movies is a favorite among students,” said SHLA member Jessica Hobbs (J.D./M.S.H.A. ’16). “The movie clips provide a unique platform to engage students in discussion of important issues.”