This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director on January 30, 2015

Today we’re kicking off a new feature on our CBC website where we’ll recap some of the most important or interesting stories in the realm of bioethics. Part of our commitment at the CBC is keeping you informed about current bioethics news with dependable analysis.

Thanks for joining us in promoting a more human future.

1. Egg Donor Income is Now Taxable

The IRS has now ruled that payments to egg donors will be considered income—making them taxable. This has major implications—some good, some bad. On one hand, this means the IRS effectively treats parts of the body as property, or another market good. We at the CBC fight on a daily basis against such an idea. On the other hand, the upside might be that this deters young women from engaging in the practice, as it won’t be as lucrative as before. For a full analysis of the legal ramifications of this, Andrew Vorzimer over at The Spin Doctor provides a nice breakdown. Thinking about selling your eggs? Well, this is just one more reason (in a very long list of reasons) why you should think again.

2. German Federal Court Removes Age Limit for Sperm Donor Disclosure

Nearly 100,000 children in Germany have been conceived via sperm donation—most of them anonymously. Now, the German Court has ruled that “a minimum age was not necessary” for the donor’s identity to be revealed—effectively ruling that every child in Germany has a right to know his or her biological father. A bold and commendable decision. Bravo!

3. The Push to Legalize Commercial Surrogacy Heats Up in New York State

TIME magazine profiles New York state senator Brad Hoylman, who is attempting to legalize commercial surrogacy in the state. Of course TIME portrays Hoylman as a hero—making the path to surrogate parenthood easier for future couples in the state so that they don’t have to burden themselves by going out of state to search for a surrogate—like Hoylman and his partner did. CBC has been following this legislation since it was first rumored and we’ll continue to fight hard against it. As a New Yorker, I hope my fellow residents join me in saying “not in my backyard.”

4. The Rise of Death Doulas

The New York Times reported earlier this week on the rise “death doulas”—individuals who are there to assist the dying (and their family members) at the end of life. This is an increasingly popular process, with more people seeking training for how best to care for the elderly and terminally ill who need additional support, both emotionally and practically. It’s encouraging that in a time when physician assisted suicide and euthanasia are being masked by the guise of compassion that other programs aimed at “accompanying the dying” are also starting up—with a much needed focus on care rather than killing.

5. CBC in the News

Two articles are out this week by the CBC team. In today’s Public Discourse, Jennifer Lahl continues her expose of how egg donors are not tracked over their lifetime, and how there might be a link between the drugs that some egg donors take (such as a Brittany Maynard, the 29 year old cause célèbre of the physician assisted suicide movement) and cancers that develop later in life. Of course, the infertility business has no interest in doing the long term studies needed to protect women’s health. Brava to Jennifer for continuing to expose the risks of egg donation to women. And over at National Review, I strike back against the idea that simply because one wants a child, it does not mean they have a right to one.

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