Somerville, M. (2019). Bioethics in the news: The values at stake. Why are conservative values so difficult to communicate in the public square and progressive values so easy?. Church, Communication and Culture, 4 (1), 39-60.
Bioethical issues are complex, often involve factual uncertainty, and have broad and long-term potential consequences for individuals, institutions and society. Simplification is a strategy used by so-called ‘progressive’ values advocates to promote acceptance of their values. It results from excluding consideration of complexity, uncertainty and potentiality in the values disputes around bio-ethical issues. In order to engage effectively in public debates of bioethics issues, it is necessary to understand the current societal values zeitgeist and how it differs from a traditional societal values zeitgeist. Since words are weapons in the values battles, it is necessary to identify how they are being used in the presentation of ethical issues in the media and ethical decision making and, when that use leads to unethical situations, offer alternatives. Moreover, bioethicists must also identify the causes of biased media coverage of ethics issues, including the phenomenon of ‘post-truth’, and work to eliminate them. In particular, Catholic communicators could play a leading role in defending ethical values which further the ‘common good’ in society, including by protecting vulnerable people. As an example, the current euthanasia debate is examined in some detail.
bioethics, free speech, communications, values