This volume of essays is based upon the proceedings of a conference on “Ethics and Epidemics” hosted in March 2004 by Albany Medical College and the Graduate College of Union University in the wake of the SARS epidemic. The SARS epidemic was a stark reminder of how quickly infectious disease can spread in our era of fast and frequent worldwide travel. Furthermore, it reawakened interest in and debate about major ethical, policy, political and social issues that arise as societies respond to such acute threats to health, life and liberty. Current concerns about the threat of avian influenza, due to the H5N1 virus, and its potential to evolve into a worldwide pandemic highlight the urgent need to address these issues.
Currently, medical ethics may place tighter restrictions on the procedures involved in fetal organ and tissue transplantation than does the legal system. Although it may be legal to do certain procedures, and, recently, technically possible to do certain procedures, careful attention must be devoted to ethical considerations in the field of fetal organ/tissue transplantation. Simply because there are no legal or technical barriers to doing some of these procedures does not necessarily mean that performance of these procedures is morally correct.