Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (5):334-338 (2017)

Dana Howard
Ohio State University
The WHO recently made news by apparently advising couples in Zika affected areas to delay pregnancy. On closer inspection, however, it is not so clear what advice was actually being offered in their interim guidance regarding the prevention of the sexual transmission of Zika. In this paper, we lay out a framework for considering the ethical issues that arise in the context of advising and use it to evaluate the WHO guidance. We argue that advising is not merely an informative act. The choices that agencies make in how and whom they advise are ethical choices with practical implications; these choices change not only how people ought to think about their options but also how they indeed ought to act. While we focus on these interim guidance updates from the WHO, the framework we provide can shed light more generally on the ethical issues surrounding advising in other public health contexts.
Keywords Bioethics  Advice  reproductive ethics  public health ethics
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DOI 10.1136/medethics-2016-103862
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