The United States Opioid Crisis: A Bioethical Review of Policy from Two Perspectives with a Consideration of Opioid Use Among Pregnant Women
The United States has experienced a public health crisis in which opioid use, dependency, and overdoses have led to social strain and economic loss, leading to a developing body of research that looks into how to address the issue. In this response, there have been developments in treatment methodology as well as policies enacted in attempts to ameliorate the effects of the crisis. This thesis provides a history of the opioid crisis and pain management perspectives, taking a particular look at the intersection of opioid use among pregnant women. What follows is a bioethical review of policy from two frameworks: principlism and Catholic bioethics. Principlism appeals to the bioethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, and respect for autonomy. The Catholic bioethics framework uses concepts of participation in change and common good bioethics, as described by Catholic ethicist Lisa Sowle Cahill. The final part of this work weaves together considerations from both frameworks to set out ethical criteria that could shape future policy and research on opioids and pregnancy. These evaluative criteria are aimed at offering a positive proposal for future change, with special consideration of how to protect pregnant women experiencing opioid dependence.