This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on November 13, 2015

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1. Germany Approves Physician Assisted Suicide

Last Friday the government of Germany passed legislation that would regulate assisted suicide in the country. The new law will prevent the commercialization of the practice, but it will allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with the aid of a doctor. For a country whose recent history is marred by its disregard for vulnerable populations, it seems they’ve now found a new target in the disabled and elderly who are most likely to feel pressure to utilize this practice.

2. Cambodian Government to Crackdown on Surrogacy

The government of Cambodia will begin cracking down on the surrogacy enterprise that has quickly grown over the past year. This is a win for women and children alike. One expert commented, “Thailand, India, and Nepal have all closed their borders [to people seeking surrogacy]. It’s highly likely that Cambodia will do the same.” Bravo!

3. CRISPR Under Scrutiny

CRISPR, a new genome editing tool that could have far reaching ramifications on the possibility for designing life in the laboratory, is coming under fire in one of the nation’s most prominent scientific journals. In an article in Nature, a team of highly regarded scientists and researchers have recommended careful scrutiny of the practice. They write, “Clear boundaries need to be established.” Indeed, they should. May their words of warning not fall on deaf ears!

4. Canadian Provinces Need More Time to Establish Physician Assisted Suicide Guidelines

Last year the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that physician assisted suicide must be legalized throughout the country and gave provinces a year to implement guidelines for the practice. As the deadline is approaching, officials in Ontario and British Columbia are scrambling to develop these guidelines. Part of this delay stems from the fact that a majority of Canadian doctors don’t want to participate in the practice. It’s a shame that instead of spending government funding and resources to find better ways to care for suffering patients, these Canadian officials are simply trying to develop proper guidelines on how physicians can kill them.

5. Social Surrogacy on the Rise

In a new documentary, Making Babies, a Los Angeles area doctor noted that social surrogacies are on the rise. Social Surrogacy is the term given to surrogate pregnancies where these is no medical reason motiving the use of a surrogate. As one individual commented, “The thought of having a baby and ruining my body, which I work hard to maintain at the gym every week, disgusts me.” So, instead an entire enterprise is expanding to accommodate these selfish desires. For shame!

This Week in Bioethics Archive

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

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