Rachel Haliburton

CRISPR-Cas9 is a customizable tool that lets scientists cut and insert small pieces of DNA at precise areas along a DNA strand. This lets scientists study our genes in a specific, targeted way.
Credit: Ernesto del Aguila III, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH (Public Domain)

Genetic Scissors: Thoughts on Gene Editing

October 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on the gene-editing tool now known as CRISPR/Cas9. This award has drawn the public’s attention to a technique that has been of interest (and concern) to bioethicists for several years — certainly sinceRead More

When MAID Meets Organ Donation

When MAID Meets Organ Donation

September 9, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Last month, I wrote about the ethical issues generated by the euphemistic and imprecise term Medical Assistance In Dying (or MAID) and the way in which the change in the law which led to the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia had avid supporters (whom I have labelled “optimists”) andRead More

B0NNRP Syringe and a bottle of morphine

Assisted Suicide: A Slippery Slope?

August 19, 2020 at 2:49 pm

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized the prohibition on assisted suicide, a decision which led to the legalization of assisted suicide (when an individual ends her own life with the help of another, usually a physician) and voluntary active euthanasia (when someone gives permission to another person –Read More

Impossible Whopper. (Photo by Sarah Stierch, CC BY 4.0 Missvain / CC BY https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

Can You Have Your Meat and Eat It Too?

June 10, 2020 at 1:04 pm

When I was young, there was a saying that was often used to describe someone who wanted to do two incompatible things simultaneously: “She wants to have her cake and eat it too!” The moral of the saying was that we often have to make difficult choices: we can’t preserveRead More

Beach garbage, Hawaii. (Photo by Justin Dolske from Cupertino, USA / CC BY-SA https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0 )

Platitudes Won’t Solve the Problem of Plastic Waste

May 13, 2020 at 12:17 pm

I have long prided myself on my conscientious recycling and composting habits. Anything that is recyclable goes into my blue boxes, and anything that is compostable goes into my green bin. Consequently, while I often put out more than one blue box on garbage day, I usually have only aRead...

Walking the Walk on Public Health Rules

Walking the Walk on Public Health Rules

April 22, 2020 at 11:16 am

I am writing this column on Sunday, April 19, which, coincidentally, is also Easter Sunday for Orthodox Christians. Last week, another Easter Sunday, did not feel festive, and nor does this one. My street, as I look out my window, is completely deserted. There are cars in the driveways, butRead More

Photo by Philafrenzy / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

When Everything is a Moral Dilemma

April 15, 2020 at 11:02 am

I had a strange nightmare last night. It began in a perfectly ordinary way, with me pushing a shopping cart down the aisles of a grocery store and loading my cart with the kinds of items I usually buy: some cheese, some cherry tomatoes, some fish and so on. ThisRead More

Wood Green free speech area. 28 September 2019. (Photo by Philafrenzy / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Go Ahead — Change Your Mind

April 8, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Last fall, Canadians were treated to the unedifying spectacle of a federal election (or, as Frank magazine amusingly put it, “a running of the reptiles.”) I think it’s safe to say that, whatever our particular political beliefs, and our relief or disappointment with the election results, all of our politicalRead...

Emery Barnes Park Playground, Vancouver, during coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by GoToVan from Vancouver, Canada / CC BY SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Preliminary Thoughts on a Pandemic

March 25, 2020 at 1:21 pm

There’s a passage in Emily St. John Mandel’s wonderful (and surprisingly not too depressing) book, Station Eleven, about the world before, during, and after a pandemic which I want to quote at length because it captures better than anything else I know how I am feeling right now. It goesRead More

Students reading in class, Leflore County Schools. (Carl Albert Research and Studies Center, Congressional Collection / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Educated for Life?

March 8, 2020 at 12:35 pm

As of this writing, elementary and high school teachers in Ontario are embroiled in an escalating dispute with Premier Doug Ford’s government. Teachers have held a number of one-day strikes and, I understand, have many more planned. While the government has been putting forward a narrative that consists of theRead More