This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on May 1, 2015

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1. Israel Takes Surrogate Babies from Nepal but Leaves Mothers Behind

If you’re looking for evidence that those utilizing surrogacy only view the surrogate mothers as vessels or wombs for rent, look no further than what happened in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake that hit Nepal last week: twenty-six surrogate babies were evacuated to Israel while their mothers were left behind. Nepal has been a hotspot for Israeli couples pursuing surrogacy over the past few years. Writing in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, one writer expressed his dismay over the ordeal: “How can it be that none of the human interest stories or compassion-filled posts mentioned these women, who came from a difficult socioeconomic background . . . to rent their wombs . . . who now, like the babies they’ve just had, are also stuck in the disaster zone?” We here at the CBC have been asking the same thing for years.

2. Nick Loeb takes to the Pages of the NYT to Fight for his Frozen Embryos

Last week we reported on the dispute over the frozen embryos of celebrity couple Nick Loeb and Sofia Vergara. On Thursday of this week, Loeb penned an op-ed in the New York Times making a public case for custody over his frozen embryos to prevent them from staying frozen, as his ex-fiancé, Vergara, wishes. “When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property?,” he asked. While we applaud Mr. Loeb’s strong belief in the dignity and worth of embryos, we still lament the practices of IVF that brought them about and his plans to utilize a surrogate to carry them to term. Assisted reproduction is roiled with ethical, medical, and legal consequences—all of which are tragically on display in this case. Regardless the outcome, there are no real winners here.

3. Ireland Moves to Decriminalize Physician Assisted Suicide

The Irish Times is reporting that a member of Irish parliament plans to introduce a bill that would remove criminal sanctions against family members or physicians who assist in suicide. Supporters of the proposed bill maintain that it would allow for compassion in the dying process. We say, as we consistently have for years, there is no compassion in killing.

4. Hawaii Seeks to Expand Fertility Coverage

A bill in the Hawaii legislature would mandate fertility coverage for same-sex couples and single women, effectively enshrining a right to pregnancy in the state. We’re still waiting for someone to explain to us how such a law that entitles infertile couples, single women, and same-sex couples to children is not the equivalent to the treatment of children as mere chattel—the products of parental desires, without any restrictions.

5. Vermont Affirms Physician Assisted Suicide

While physician assisted suicide has been legal in Vermont since 2013, the state House passed legislation this week to provide permanent provisions for assisted suicide within the state. The provisions had previously been set to expire in July of 2016, and some legislators were optimistic that this would be a chance to overturn the practice in the state. But alas such efforts failed. We applaud the sixty brave legislators who sought to provide real solutions to patients in need. May you continue to fight the good fight!

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by rucko fotografie via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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