This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on June 5, 2015

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1. California Senate Approves Physician Assisted Suicide Bill

Yesterday the California State Senate approved a bill (by a vote of 23-13) that would allow physician assisted suicide within the state. The bill now moves to the State Assembly for consideration. If passed, California would become the largest state in the country to have passed such a bill. In the aftermath of its passage, 32-year-old terminally ill patient Stephanie Packer spoke out against the bill saying: “Unfortunately this vote sends a message to people like me that suicide is a preferred option.” We applaud Stephanie’s courage and encourage everyone to learn more about her journey and fight against assisted suicide via A true example of dying with dignity.

2. Physician Assisted Suicide Bill Tabled in Delaware

The lawmaker championing a similar legislation in Delaware has tabled the bill in the health committee because the bill did not have enough support to move forward. This decision allows for the bill to be reconsidered again before June 30, 2016. Let’s hope this bill is not taken up again between now and then, and that the people of Delaware will reject the idea of legalizing the practice of doctors prescribing suicide to their suffering patients.

3. Maine Considering Physician Assisted Suicide Legislation

The state of Maine is now considering legislation that would allow Maine to become like its neighbor Vermont, and permit physician assisted suicide. In the state paper, the Portland Press Herald, the editorial board endorsed the legislation stating “People who are dying deserve to be able to choose to end their lives before they become consumed by pain.” It continues to puzzle us how advocates of physician assisted suicide have little interest in pursuing options to remedy pain, but instead want to fast track the killing of patients. Patients deserve better.

4. Disabled by Choice

Earlier this week, the Canadian Post profiled the rise of “transabled” persons—those who choose to become disabled by choice. Those in favor of the practice believe that selective amputation could help these individuals look more like who they believe themselves to really be. As Jennifer pointed out earlier this week, within the medical literature this is known as Bodily Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). The amputation of perfectly healthy limbs would be a violation of the oath of doctors to do no harm to their patients. Yes, we can—and should—provide real support to individuals struggling with BIID, but help does not require doing harm.

5. Surrogacy Debated in South Australia

In an attempt to better regulate surrogacy in South Australia, a bill has been passed in the Upper House and is now under consideration in the assembly that would create a registry for surrogates and would allow for greater compensation. Those in favor of the bill claim it would help parents more easily find surrogates and would allow for the surrogates to receive more financial support. Of course, the entire enterprise is focused on those who stand to gain the most, with no one focusing on the welfare of the children created through commodification. This is but one of the reasons why we at the CBC oppose regulation and support a full ban on the practice.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by takomabibelot via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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