This Week in Bioethics

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on February 5, 2016

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1. New Records Set For Reproductive Technology in the United States

According to a new report, the U.S. reproductive technology industry is slated to reach over $4 billion by 2020. The largest sector of the market, $1.2 billion, comes from fertility drug revenue. As we’ve long said, infertility has become a booming business in the United States and most providers are only eager to profit from it, rather than address the underlying causes of their patients’ health condition.

2. U.S. Military Announces New Policy on Sperm and Egg Storage for Troops

The U.S. military has launched a pilot program that will pay for the freezing of eggs and sperm of young troops. Such a program may offer the supposed hope of postponed childbearing, but raises a number of issues that participants deserve to fully understand. Egg freezing, in particular, will eventually require the use of in vitro fertilization which has an almost 70 percent failure rate—and those chances are even lower using frozen eggs. The old saying that “honesty is the best policy” seems all too apt here. Let’s hope the military is straightforward about what exactly they’re promising—and their limited ability to deliver.

3. U.K. Scientists Gain License to Edit Genes in Human Embryos

The UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has granted scientists in London permission to begin using CRISPR, a new technology that will allow for the gene editing of human embryos. Such a move will only expand the market for human eggs needed for research, and raises serious concerns about the practice of eugenics and designer children.

4. Physician Assisted Suicide Legislation Introduced in Maryland

Last year the state of Maryland’s attempt to introduce physician assisted suicide legislation failed because of widespread concern that the bill was dangerous and lacked protections for the vulnerable and disabled. Now, lawmakers have introduced virtually the same bill and are attempting once more to legalize the practice in the state. The truth of the matter is that there is no safe way for doctors to kill their patients—it shouldn’t be happening at all. We’ll be monitoring this and will keep you posted.

5. Federal Inquiry Into Surrogacy Begins in Australia

A new parliamentary hearing has kicked off in Australia to survey whether new protections are needed to protect children involved in surrogacy arrangements—most notably for couples who pursue international surrogacy. We have one simple, straightforward solution: the best and only way to protect these children is to not allow the practice at all.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

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

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