African American Bioethics

Culture, Race, and Identity

Lawrence J. Prograis Jr., MD, and Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, Editors

"The contributors provide a compelling case for locating an African-American framework for bioethics. Practitioners, researchers, and theorists will find this book worth reading. There is no compendium on the subject like it."
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Do people of differing ethnicities, cultures, and races view medicine and bioethics differently? And, if they do, should they? Are doctors and researchers taking environmental perspectives into account when dealing with patients? If so, is it done effectively and properly?

In African American Bioethics, Lawrence J. Prograis Jr. and Edmund D. Pellegrino bring together medical practitioners, researchers, and theorists to assess one fundamental question: Is there a distinctive African American bioethics?

The book's contributors resoundingly answer yes—yet their responses vary. They discuss the continuing African American experience with bioethics in the context of religion and tradition, work, health, and U.S. society at large—finding enough commonality to craft a deep and compelling case for locating a black bioethical framework within the broader practice, yet recognizing profound nuances within that framework.

As a more recent addition to the study of bioethics, cultural considerations have been playing catch-up for nearly two decades. African American Bioethics does much to advance the field by exploring how medicine and ethics accommodate differing cultural and racial norms, suggesting profound implications for growing minority groups in the United States.

Table of Contents


Culture and Bioethics: Where Ethics and Mores Meet
Edmund D. Pellegrino

Chapter 1. Revisiting African American Perspectives on Biomedical Ethics: Distinctiveness and Other Questions
Jorge L. A. Garcia

Chapter 2. The Moral Weight of Culture in Ethics
Segun Gbadegesin

Chapter 3. Whitewashing Black Health: Lies, Deceptions, Assumptions and Assertions—And the Disparities Continue
Annette Dula

Chapter 4. Race, Equity, Health Policy, and the African American Community
Patricia A. King

Chapter 5. Religion and Ethical Decision Making in the African American Community: Bioterrorism and the Black Postal Workers
Cheryl J. Sanders

Chapter 6. Personal Narrative and an African American Perspective on Medical Ethics
Ezra E. H. Griffith

Chapter 7. Does an African American Perspective Alter Clinical Ethical Decision Making at the Bedside?
Reginald L. Peniston

Chapter 8. Race, Genetics, and Ethics
Kevin FitzGerald and Charmaine Royal

Afterword: An African American's Internal Perspective on Biomedical Ethics
Lawrence J. Prograis, Jr.



"The contributors provide a compelling case for locating an African-American framework for bioethics. Practitioners, researchers, and theorists will find this book worth reading. There is no compendium on the subject like it."—New England Journal of Medicine

"African American Bioethics: Culture, Race, and Identity represents an excellent contribution to the field of bioethics. It has implications for those who want to study further the social effects of health care and bioethics on other racial and ethnic non-dominant groups living in the United States and seek to access its health care delivery system."—Health Progress


Annette Dula, University of Pittsburgh Kevin FitzGerald, SJ, Georgetown University J. L. A. Garcia, Boston College Segun Gbadegesin, Howard University Ezra E. H. Griffith, MD, Yale University Patricia A. King, Georgetown University Law Center Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, Georgetown University Reginald L. Peniston, MD, Chief of Surgery, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital Lawrence J. Prograis Jr., MD, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health Charmaine D. M. Royal, Howard University Cheryl J. Sanders, Howard University

Supplemental Materials


Winner of the 2008 Illustrated Cover or Jacket, Large Nonprofit Publishers Category of the Washington Publishers Book Design and Effectiveness Awards

About the Author

Lawrence J. Prograis Jr., MD, is senior scientist, Special Programs and Bioethics, Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institutes of Health.

Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, is the John Carroll Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics Emeritus at Georgetown University. He is the coeditor of Jewish and Catholic Bioethics.

192 pp., 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN: 978-1-58901-163-2
May 2007

192 pp., 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN: 978-1-58901-164-9
May 2007

192 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-232-5
May 2007

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