This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on April 10, 2015

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1. Physician Assisted Suicide a No Go in Nevada

While the state of Nevada may be used to gambling on a lot of things, lawmakers there have refused to gamble on using the practice of medicine to end to lives of patients. A “Death with Dignity” bill that was being considered in committee was not put forward for a vote. This is real win for medicine, physicians, and patients alike.

2. Maternity Leave Granted to Surrogate Parents in the UK

This week the U.K. amended its Children and Families Act of 2014 to allow for couples who have their children via surrogacy to receive full maternity and paternity benefits to spend time off work with their new child. It’s natural to want to encourage the parental-child bonding—but it’s a shame that lawmakers don’t recognize the importance of this bonding prior to birth. If they did, they’d be forced to admit that surrogacy intentionally severs that bonding, forever harming both mother and child.

3. Chinese Government Cracks Down on Surrogacy

The Chinese government announced this week that they will crack down on the underground surrogacy market in the country. At present, surrogacy is illegal in the country, but it remains a popular enterprise with agencies and brokers operating secretly behind the scenes. Here at the CBC, we support all efforts to #StopSurrogacyNow.

4. New Study Reveals Harms of Surrogacy in India

India has long been a hot bed for international surrogacy with couples from the western world looking to India for cheap “labor.” A new study from a university in Mumbai reveals that only 18% of Indians are aware of the various forms of surrogacy taking place in their country. Furthermore, “The findings indicate that giving away a baby may prove to be devastating to mother’s mental health.” We’ve said this for years now—and so have the former surrogate mothers we’ve interviewed—but it’s always nice to hear this reaffirmed in the academic literature. One question remains: when will lawmakers begin to listen?

5. Rogue Sperm Donor Spreads Disease

A serial sperm donor in Denmark who has fathered almost 100 known children is now being accused of passing along neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) to his offspring. Ten of his children have already been diagnosed with the disease, “a condition which can increase the risk of cancer, cause learning difficulties, and reduce a sufferer’s lifespan by up to 15 years.” Once more, this case demonstrates how the practice of sperm donation fails to serve the interest of those most affected by it: the children.

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