The most important post-Nuremberg health-related human right and bioethics principle is informed consent. A series of post-9/11 developments, including quarantine and forced vaccination proposals, "altered standards of care" for disaster responders, eliminating consent for "emergency research," the post-ACA rise of "standard of care research," whole genome screening guidelines for adults and children, and proposals for newborns, gene bank proposals for "broad" or no consent, and the force-feeding of hunger strikers at Guantanamo and in US prisons, all suggest that informed consent should be seen as optional, and judged by a physician-determined standard of care. It's time to kill these zombies, and save the life of informed consent, and thus of the individual person who retains dignity and human rights.
George Annas is the cofounder of Global Lawyers and Physicians, a transnational professional association of lawyers and physicians working together to promote human rights and health. He has degrees from Harvard College (A.B. economics, '67), Harvard Law School (J.D. '70) and Harvard School of Public Health (M.P.H. '72).
Professor Annas is the author or editor of 18 books on health law and bioethics, including Worst Case Bioethics: Death, Disaster, and Public Health(2010),Public Health Law (2007),American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries(2005),The Rights of Patients(3d ed. 2004),Some Choice: Law, Medicine, and theMarket (1999), Standard of Care: The Law of American Bioethics (l993), and Judging Medicine (1987), and a play entitled Shelley's Brain, that has been presented to bioethics audiences across the U.S. and in Australia. Professor Annas wrote a regular feature on "law and bioethics" for the Hastings Center Report from 1976 to 199l, and a regular feature on "Public Health and the Law" in the American Journal of Public Health from 1982 to 1992 and since 1991 has written a regular feature for the NewEngland Journal of Medicine (“Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights”).
He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Institute of Medicine, a member of the National Academies’ Human Rights Committee, and co-chair of the American Bar Association's Committee on Health Rights and Bioethics (Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section). He has also held a variety of government regulatory posts, including Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, Chair of the Massachusetts Health Facilities Appeals Board, and Chair of the Massachusetts Organ Transplant Task Force.