This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on September 4, 2015

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1. Quebec Establishes Guidelines for Euthanasia

The group responsible for regulating doctors in Quebec has announced that it will soon issue formal guidelines for euthanasia within the province. As a part of this practice, doctors will receive “suicide kits” complete with the proper instructions and injections to kill their patients. Rather than physicians prescribing the drugs to their patients, they will be responsible for injecting them on the spot to supervise their death. This latest development is a grim and gruesome reality that will forever tarnish the reputation of the medical profession.

2. California Physician Assisted Suicide Bill Advances

On Tuesday, the California physician assisted suicide bill that we’ve been following closely passed an important legislative hearing vote and now makes its way for review by the finance committee. Yesterday, in the San Jose Mercury News, CBC Board Member Dr. Aaron Kheriaty argues against the idea that Oregon’s physician assisted suicide legislation is model legislation to follow. As Dr. Kheriaty notes, “We’ve seen in Oregon the problem of doctor shopping and cases of individuals being pressured by family members.” Physician assisted suicide—in any place and in any form—is bad for patients and physicians alike. We’ll continue to monitor this bill, but if you’re in California, remember you have a limited window to let you voice be heard. Tell your state representatives that you oppose the practice—and expect them to do the same.

3. UK Sperm Bank Shortage

One year after the UK’s Department of Health set up a national sperm bank to regulate the “donating” and buying of sperm, there is a country wide shortage of donors. To date, there are only nine donors that have signed up. While many are hailing this is as a “crisis,” the real crisis results with the children conceived via sperm donation who are intentionally severed from their biological fathers. Here at the CBC, we see this as great news that fewer men want to be involved in the practice and we hope the trend continues.

4. Dutch Government Evaluates Surrogacy

The Netherlands has launched a national commission to study the practice of surrogacy. While surrogacy is not illegal in the country, the commercial practice of it remains forbidden. The current study seeks to improve ways in which the practice is regulated. We believe that if the Dutch government performs an honest evaluation, they’ll find the practice itself is exploitative in nature and harms women and children alike. It should be banned, not regulated.

5. Developments in Blood Cell Therapy

A new report published this week in Science Translational Method evidences progress in blood cell therapy where three of the fourteen leukemia patients treated are now in complete remission. The hope of blood cell based treatment is that it has the ability to heal, rather than simply prolong life. So far the therapy appears to be ethical and does not target germ lines. We’ll keep you posted on this, but for now this seems to be cause for optimism.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

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

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