This brief post concerns a short section of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, broadcast on January 7th 2009. The clip itself is approximately 4.5 minutes long and features interviews with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, of the Autism Research Centre, and Joy Delhanty, professor of human genetics at University College London, who prospectively discuss the ethical issues involved in prenatal testing for autism. It was broadcast alongside the corresponding edition of the BBC News’ weekly column Scrubbing Up, in which leading clinicians and experts give their perspectives on various issues in health and bioethics.
Leave a Comment » | Abortion, Gene testing, Genetic screening, News story, Online clips, Radio, Streamed audio | Tagged: autism, BBC Radio 4, prenatal diagnosis, prenatal screening, prenatal testing, Scrubbing Up, Simon Baron-Cohen, Today programme | Permalink
Posted by Bonnie Green
In 2002, the BBC’s Panorama series included an edition entitled MMR: Every Parent’s Choice which investigated the origins of the controversy over measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination in the UK. In particular, the programme focussed on the role of Dr Andrew Wakefield and his, now refuted, claims concerning the link between the use of ‘triple-jab’ MMR vaccine and childhood autism and bowel disease. Although the public controversy surrounding this vaccination has now largely been settled, MMR uptake still remains below the level required to ensure population (or ‘herd’) immunity (see MMR uptake still short of target, BBC News, September 28th 2007 or watch video Warning over low MMR uptake, BBC News). The 2006-07 NHS immunisation statistics in England for example report it to be 85% by the age of two (NHS Immunisation Statistics, England, 2006-07), a figure which highlights that even today, 10 years after the controversy first ignited, immunisation rates have not yet returned to their previous levels of over 90% (NHS Immunisation Statistics, England, 1997-8).
|MMR controversy makes the Telegraph headlines on February 27th 1998 (from Panorama, BBC2, February 3rd 2002, 22.15)|
The MMR controversy also remains a particularly rich source of material for discussing the ethical issues implicit in mass vaccination programmes. The MMR: Every Parent’s Choice episode of Panorama is a good example of this as it explicitly explores key issues, including:
- the tension between the rights of individual parents to choose whether or not to have their children vaccinated and the aims and objectives of state endorsed vaccination policy
- the factors influencing parents decision-making about vaccination, and variable influence of health professionals, the media, and science in shaping these
- the proper role for doctors as both scientific and social actors
4 Comments | Clinical ethics, News story, TV (documentary), Vaccines | Tagged: autism, bioethics, choice, controversy, measles, MMR, parents, responsibility, social policy, SSPE, uk, vaccination, Wakefield | Permalink
Posted by Bonnie Green