CBC 2010 Winners and Losers

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture

WINNERS:

Dr. Leon Kass: Recipient of the CBC’s 2010 Paul Ramsey award. Dr. William Hurlbut, who serves on the Paul Ramsey nominating committee said, “Leon Kass is an extraordinarily constructive and courageous voice in bioethics—a treasure to our civilization. He is the intellectual epicenter of American bioethics.”

The Dickey-Wicker Amendment: Enacted during the Clinton administration and approved each year on a bi-partisan vote, this important amendment continues to be our “Bulwark against Barbarism” as it prohibits the use of federal monies to be used to create and/or destroy human embryos.

Feminists Choosing Life of New York: Continues to advance their legal challenge in their state to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to compensate women who “donate” their eggs for the creation of clonal embryos for stem cell research in the Empire State.

Film and Art: In 2010, made generous contributions to the field of bioethics. Feature films like Never Let Me Go and Inception, and documentaries such as Made In India raised diverse issues from cloning to mind-altering, dream-sharing states of consciousness to surrogacy. Even the CBC’s documentary Lines That Divide was an official selection in the 2010 California Independent Film Festival (and Eggsploitation is an official selection for 2011). Eggsploitation continues to reach people all over the world in theaters and in a provocative art show opening next year which will feature clips from our film.

Oregon Hospice Facilities: A new study published by the Hastings Centers shows that hospice facilities in the state largely do not cooperate with assisted suicide by not providing medications necessary to hasten death. This is an encouraging sign in a state with permissive assisted suicide laws.

Associate Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini: Devoted his professional career to being a hospital ethicist and director of bioethics, working with patients facing end-of-life issues. Now he finds himself dealing with his own terminal illness, suffering, disability, and the realities of pain. He staunchly opposes legalized euthanasia and said so in his letter to South Australian Premier Mike Rann.

LOSERS:

The IVF industry, which continues to perpetuate the largest human social experiment of our time under the guise of helping people have babies. Thirty-plus years of reproductive practices have resulted in a 70% failure rate, ill health and broken bodies from fertility drugs, and countless children entering adulthood wondering about their biological beginnings.

The Nobel Prize Committee, for awarding Robert Edwards the 2010 Noble Prize in Physiology or Medicine for Edwards’ development of in vitro fertilization technology. Edwards was part of the now famous Edwards and Steptoe duo who created the first “test-tube” baby, Louise Brown.

Francis Collins, a self-described evangelical Christian and director of the National Institutes for Health, for playing politics with science. In his testimony this year at a hearing on funding of embryonic stem cell research, Collins threw ethics out the window and said that the feds must fund embryonic stem cell research so that we don’t lose our scientific edge in the world and cause patients to lose hope.

Quebec, for their harebrained solution to “solve” their declining birthrate by investing 25 million dollars in government-sponsored IVF treatments. Although they hope to encourage growth in live birth rates in 2011 through IVF technologies, reports show that Quebec, sadly, has over 25,000 abortions a year. Perhaps they should consider spending their money on encouraging and assisting women to keep their babies.

California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), under the leadership of Robert Klein, is back at the trough again. Klein boondoggled California voters out of $3 billion in 2004 in a “Cures for California” campaign. And with cures still decades away (if ever), Klein is going to ask California voters for another cool $3 billion to keep the CIRM boat afloat.

Films, in 2010, also made some dreadful contributions to the field of bioethics. Movies like The Kids Are All Right, The Backup Plan, and The Switch all trivialized infertility, sex and procreation, and family, while encouraging the “anybody with a checkbook can buy a baby whenever they want” mentality. Splice, a genetic experiment gone bad flick, fell flat and was ethically thin.

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