This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on July 17, 2015

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  1. Mitochondrial Disease Research Makes Progress

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported on the fact that two new experiments—one using cell reprogramming and the other using cloning—have led to progress against mitochondrial disease. While we encourage ethically informed research that could reduce or eliminate the disease, we oppose any type of experimentation that will create a demand on human eggs, as the cloning therapy would require. Progress and advancement for the sake of some individuals, should not come at the harm of others.

  1. New Push for a “Universal Principle” for Family Building

An article in JAMA Internal Medicine uses the recent passage of legislation in the state of Maryland to extend infertility treatments to same-sex couples to call for a “universal principle” for family building. According to the author, “Building a family is a universal human principle shared by single individuals and unmarried opposite-sex couples, as well as gay and lesbian couples.” Just weeks ago we warned you that the push for marriage equality had already led to a push for “family equality,”—which necessarily increases the market for eggs, sperm, and wombs. Expect more of the same in the months and years ahead.

  1. Egg Freezing Full of False Promises

An investigative documentary produced by Time magazine provides an in-depth look at the practice of egg freezing, which is increasingly being utilized by professional women who are delaying childbearing. Among the dirty little secrets exposed is that the success rates are remarkably low (less than 24% of eggs frozen result in a live birth). For years we’ve sounded the warning alarm that the big business of infertility is buttressed on false promises. We only hope that more and more women will begin to listen.

  1. Thai Surrogacy Cases Evidences the Exploitative Nature of the Practice

Earlier this week NPR published a story of a gay couple who is currently in legal limbo in Thailand after their surrogate changed her mind. The fate of a surrogate conceived six month old girl hangs in the balance. According to one of the men, “We’re having problems with our jobs and financially … and all this is [the surrogate’s] fault. We’ve done nothing wrong here.” This case reveals how the practice of surrogacy fails to protect women and children alike. Here, a Thai surrogate changes her mind because she becomes uncomfortable with the industry and sees it as an equivalent of human trafficking and then becomes demonized. At the same time, a child is born as the result of a contract and becomes the center of a legal tug-of-war. The practice of surrogacy in its entirety is wrong and exploitative, and as this case evidences, everyone loses.

  1. CBC in the News: Maggie’s Story Full Trailer Released

The first full trailer of our soon-to-be released documentary film, Eggsploitation: Maggie’s Story about one woman’s journey through egg donation…and its consequences is now online. Spread the word and stay tuned for the release!

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by marfis75 via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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