This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on September 25, 2015

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1. Human Sperm Grown in Laboratory

A French team announced earlier this week that they have grown sperm by culturing immature cells taken from the testes of infertile men. While many are optimistic that it could help young men who are rendered sterile from cancer treatments and adult men who cannot produce sperm, some also speculate that this new development will be utilized by lesbians and single women seeking to have children. In addition to the unknown health risks posed to the children that would be conceived from this experiment, the concerns from anonymous sperm donation apply here too. Children will be intentionally conceived from another person’s biological material and then be intentionally severed from them. Wasn’t the world a simpler place when we didn’t try to deconstruct our bodies and its parts?

2. Embryo Battles

An L.A. Times article earlier this week highlighted the more than a dozen frozen embryo battles that are ongoing in the United States. The situation varies—some couples are fighting to preserve embryos that the other spouse wants to destroy, while others are seeking to implant while another advocates for the embryos to stay frozen. Regardless, it’s a messy situation—that once more, could have been avoided if we’d never relied on the laboratory for reproduction.

3. Battling For Rights to Become Legal Parents of Donor Conceived Children

Earlier this week The Guardian profiled seven couples seeking legal parentage of their children conceived from donor conception. In reviewing the cases, the family court judge ruled that the way the fertility industry handled the cases were “alarming and shocking.” While the judge advocated for the greater protection of parents who pursue these methods, he unfortunately failed to express concern for the many children created from these arrangements—their needs, their concerns, and their realities. The industry is indeed, alarming and shocking, but more so because of the little concern we show for the children than we do for the consumers that participate in this market.

4. More Single Women Using IVF to become Mothers

A new ABC News report highlights the rise of single women utilizing in vitro fertilization to become mothers on their own. Some are championing this as a victory for women, but those of us who know the health risks to the children conceived from these technologies—as well as the low rates of success—see this a bad for women and children alike. Meanwhile, the fertility industry will continue to profit from selling false hopes and dreams.

5. New York Times and Washington Post Support Physician Assisted Suicide

The editorial boards of both The New York Times and The Washington Post came out in favor of California’s physician assisted suicide bill this week, and urged Governor Jerry Brown to sign the bill into law. Consider this proof of just how powerful the forces behind this movement are and the power that they intend to wield to make this law a reality. The editorial boards point to the “success” of the legislation in other states. But the hard evidence points to a series of abuses! Physician assisted suicide offers nothing but killing to those in need of compassion and care. It shouldn’t be signed into law in California or anywhere that aims to protect the weak and to promote health.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by Nicolas Vigier via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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