This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on June 12, 2015

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1. Colombia Mandates Physician Assisted Suicide

Earlier this week the high court in Colombia issued a ruling that requires all public doctors (those working for state run institutions) to participate in physician assisted suicide when it is requested. While the practice has been decriminalized in the South American country since 1997, this new decision now mandates it. As one doctor who opposes the practice and is appalled by the decision stated: “The Constitutional Court is completely ignorant about the doctor’s vocation, and in an unprecedented reductionism it assumes that he’s a simple ‘technical worker’ at the service of the law and not life.”

2. Tennessee Legislature Considers Physician Assisted Suicide Legislation

Yet another state has now taken up legislation considering physician assisted suicide. Earlier this week debate commenced in Tennessee. While such legislation should never even be given a hearing, there is a bit of bright news here: the bill will have a lengthy discussion and will not move for full consideration by the General Assembly until after January 2016. Let’s hope that Tennessee citizens use this time wisely to educate their lawmakers on the harms of passing such legislation.

3. Surrogacy Support Spikes in Israel—Supposedly

According to a new study, support for surrogacy among homosexual couples in Israel is now at 82%. Several news outlets picked up this story—but here’s the real news item: the study was conducted by a major group in Tel Aviv that arranges for international surrogacy. It’s quite easy to market a practice and claim there’s public support for it when you conduct the research yourself. The whole enterprise of surrogacy is built off of dishonest claims and deception. We’ll just add this one to that ever-growing list.

4. Switzerland Refuses to Recognize Gay Parents of Surrogate Conceived Child

A new case has been making headlines in Switzerland over a gay couple who contracted with a California surrogate to carry their child. Upon their return home to Switzerland, the courts refused to legally recognize their parentage. This case is messy, but it goes to show that the individuals who suffer most in surrogacy are the children who often get caught in a life-long tug-of-war with their identities and legal statuses always under question.

5. Belgian Doctors Euthanizing without Consent

A new paper by a leading academic in the Journal of Medical Ethics chronicles how doctors in Belgium are increasingly euthanizing patients without their consent. This is hugely important—though not unpredicted. Any time physician assisted suicide is considered, we hear that it’s in the service of patients who request it and will not lead to abuse by doctors who participate in the practice. Here, we have proof positive that the slippery slope that is always warned about, has turned into a free fall.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by Matti Mattila via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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