2000 Award Recipient - Eugene Diamond, MD


On Sunday, October 29, 2000, the AAP Section on Bioethics featured the presentation of the first annual William G. Bartholome Award for Ethical Excellence.

Bill Bartholome (1944-1999) earned his BA from Rockhurst College, his MD from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and an MTS in ethics from Harvard University. He did his residency training at Johns Hopkins University and an ethics fellowship at Harvard University.

Bill’s involvement in bioethics began with the Baby Doe Hopkins case in the late 1960s, when he was a pediatric resident. He was one of two residents who went public with the information that the parents of a baby born with Down syndrome had decided to withhold nutrition. Bill made a video entitled “Who Should Survive?”

Over the next 3 decades, Bill was an advocate for children, particularly those with disabilities. He spent his career focused on the medical rights of children and is given much credit for changing the vocabulary of pediatric informed consent from parental consent to parental permission and the assent of children. His work was acknowledged by the AAP Committee on Bioethics in their statement entitled “Informed Consent, Parental Permission and Assent in Pediatric Practice”, published in 1995.

In 1995, Bill was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer. He lived 5 years and spent part of his final years working with Bill Moyers and his team developing the television series “On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying” that was aired in September 2000.

Bill’s life and death are an inspiration to us all. It is with great pride that we named the Award for Ethical Excellence in his honor. It is with great pride that we named Eugene F. Diamond, MD, FAAP, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine the first recipient. Dr. Diamond has served in numerous state and national roles in the American Academy of Pediatrics and was a founding member of both the Committee on Bioethics and later the Section on Bioethics. He has authored more than 150 books, chapters, papers, abstracts, and monographs. Although he has written about common topics in pediatrics, he began concentrating in the 1970s on questions of ethics, particularly issues regarding the sanctity of life and fetal/newborn medicine.

In his remarks at the annual business meeting, Gene gave us all some food for thought:

“Today we have begun to doubt that medicine is an intrinsically ethical activity but we are certain that it can both help and harm. Whether they want to or not, doctors are able to kill quickly, efficiently, and what is more, they may soon be licensed and encouraged to do so. I believe that the Academy should be for life and the preservation of life. I believe that this regard for the quantity, as well as the quality, of life is a cornerstone of western culture. Caring for the terminally ill is an opportunity for the physician to recover the understanding that there remains a residual human wholeness—however precarious, that can be served even in the face of the incurable.”

[Statements and opinions expressed in these remarks are those of the author and not necessary those of the American Academy of Pediatrics.]

Reprinted with permission of Eugene Diamond, MD, © 2000


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