This Week in Bioethics

by Matthew Eppinette, CBC Executive Director on June 3, 2016

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1. Call for Open, Transparent Discussion Denied

Last Friday, 150 scientists, physicians, and bioethicists released an open letter calling for the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider moving or postponing the upcoming Olympic Games because of how much we simply do not know about the Zika virus, which is epidemic in Brazil. Specifically, the call is for “a transparent, evidence-based” discussion of the risks of continuing to move forward. The WHO responded: “cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.” This does not come close to addressing the many, detailed concerns raised in the open letter. In failing to accept this reasonable request, particularly in the midst of so much that is still unknown about Zika, the WHO is failing at its responsibility to protect global public health.

2. In 2016, Donor Anonymity Does Not Exist

The journal Human Reproduction in April published an opinion article entitled, “The end of donor anonymity: how genetic testing is likely to drive anonymous gamete donation out of business.” The authors’ research indicates that between the increase in laws that allow donor-conceived individuals to know who their sperm or egg donor was, and the rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, we are rapidly approaching the point at which most anyone who is donor conceived will be able not only to find out that fact, but also be able to locate genetic relatives. Thus, many to most of the people who were sperm or egg donors will lose the ability to remain anonymous. The article makes several recommendations about making sure that everyone is informed about the impossibility of remaining anonymous and about the impossibility of keeping donor conception a secret. We recommend instead putting a stop to third-party conception entirely. This will put an end to the perceived need for anonymity and secrecy altogether, while protecting the bonds of origin and kinship.

3. StemCells, Inc. Shutting Down Fetal Stem Cell Clinical Trial and StemCells, Inc.

Our friend Wesley Smith drew our attention to the announcement that StemCells, Inc., a company that just a few months ago was touting the promise of its clinical trial using stem cells from fetuses to treat spinal cord injury, has decided to end the study mid-stage and is shutting down the company. Notice that the announcement that they are shuttering the project and the company does not mention the source of the stem cells, nor do the news reports mention that there is a good bit of research going on using adult stem cells to treat spinal cord injury.

4. Opening Today, Coming Next Week

Me Before You is a new film based on a best-selling novel by the same name. All indications are that the film is true to the book’s (spoiler alert) assisted suicide/euthanasia ending. Our friends at Not Dead Yet are organizing protests at many theaters because of the movie’s false and dangerous narrative “that if you’re a disabled person, you’re better off dead.” We will have a full review of the film next week.

5. When Progress Sours

Senior bioethicist Daniel Calahan is not someone with whom we would always agree, but in a recent column he draws attention to the fact that “the faith and hope of progress has some dark shadows, ignored at our peril.” That is to say, in some cases, “what began as beneficial progress created unforeseen harms as it moved forward . . . What we have yet to learn is how to stop, and turn around, the progress when it starts going sour.” This is all the more reason to listen closely to the stories of those who have been affected by the harms of such “soured progress,” like the stories featured in Maggie’s Story, Breeders: A Subclass of Women?, Anonymous Father’s Day, and Eggsploitation.

Bonus: 30% off Trilogy Sale Begins Monday

Speaking of our films, beginning on Monday, June 6, we will be offering our trilogy of films at 30% off when purchased through our Facebook shop. These films bring the truth about third-party reproduction to light with powerful testimonials. Be sure to like our Facebook page to keep up with all of the latest on bioethics every day. This sale will run for only a limited time, so order early and often.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by Jaypeg via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

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