This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on September 18, 2015

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1. California Physician Assisted Suicide Bill on Governor Brown’s Desk

On the heels of last week’s decision by the California state legislature to pass physician assisted suicide, pressure is now on Governor Jerry Brown to veto the legislation. This week the American College of Physicians sent a letter to the governor encouraging him to do just that. In their letter, they reminded the Governor that “It is not the role of the physician to give individuals control over the cause and timing of death — the medicalization of suicide.” Let’s hope he listens.

2. The United Kingdom Rejects Physician Assisted Suicide

Last Friday, members of parliament overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would enact physician assisted suicide in the UK. As the Financial Times observed, “The size of the majority is a setback for campaigners who want England and Wales to follow the Benelux countries and Switzerland, as well as US states such as Oregon, in legalizing assisted suicide.” The final vote was 330 against the bill and 118 in favor of it. A significant setback, indeed. Let’s hope this movement experiences more of the same in the years to come.

3. Bioethics in the Grocery Store Line

A new article from The Atlantic chronicles the rise in celebrities relying on surrogacy and IVF. “If you don’t follow celebrity gossip, you might have missed just how often stories about reproductive technology are gracing the covers of tabloid magazines. In recent years, these publications have become a window into the future of reproduction,” concludes author Ruth Graham. Along with profiling the uptick in the use of these technologies, the article also reveals how these technologies benefit the rich who can afford to buy, while relying on the poor to sell their eggs and wombs. If this is a glimpse at the future of the American family as the article suggests, it will be one that is built on inequalities and the commodification of women and human life.

4. First “Successful” Surrogacy Case in Vietnam

A hospital in Vietnam has announced that they are responsible for the country’s two first successful surrogacy cases. Surrogacy has only recently been permitted in Vietnam. Those of us who believe that surrogacy exploits women and harms children hardly view this as a success. Real success will occur when both the law and field of medicine forbid such practices.

5. IVF success ‘effectively zero’ for women over 45

Speaking of “success,” a new study in Australia reveals the success rate for live IVF births in women over 45 is “effectively zero.” As one of the researchers admitted, “You asked the question, are we getting better in relation to women over the age of 40? The answer is no.” These results are almost identical to a similar study from earlier this year in the UK. Meanwhile, the big business of infertility still continues to profit from selling desperate women false hopes from these treatments. For shame!

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by Alan Levine via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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