This Week in Bioethics

by Matthew Eppinette, CBC Executive Director on August 19, 2016

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1. Countering Physician Assisted Suicide: A How To Guide

Ashton Ellis, one of our Paul Ramsey Institute Fellows, wrote a very insightful article on the ways in which proponents of physician assisted suicide have engaged in an active, and sadly very successful, campaign to spread the word that doctors in California may now legally kill their patients. He draws out a number of lessons that those of us who oppose physician suicide can use to counter this evil. Well done Ashton!

2. All Hype, No Substance

Our good friend Wesley Smith alerts us to a new article that confirms what many, including us, have been saying for years: “No field of biotechnology has promised more and delivered less in the way of treatments than embryonic stem cells.” Indeed, indeed. Our very first film was on the topic of stem cell research, and it remains as relevant as ever. If you haven’t seen it, have a look: Lines That Divide: The Great Stem Cell Debate.

3. The Pain of Surrogacy

The BBC interviewed three women in India who speak openly about the emotional turmoil they have endured after going through surrogate pregnancies — lots of tears, months of sleeplessness, and continued wondering about where the child is today and how the child is doing. It is wrenching to read, to even begin to understand what these women have been through and the pain they continue to live with. And it is further confirmation of what so many of us have been saying for so long: surrogacy is not good for women, is not good for children, and is not good for society. #StopSurrogacyNow

4. Disability Erasure?

Why has the killing of 19 disabled people and the injury of 26 more, by a man who stated clearly that his goal was to kill as many disabled individuals as possible, received almost no media attention? Where is the outrage? Why isn’t there even a #Hashtag (#SlacktivismFail!)? These are the questions journalist and biologist Emily Willingham asks in a Forbes opinion piece. Her conclusion is biting:

The messages that society sends and accepts again and again form a drumbeat of “better dead than disabled” and “disabled = less than fully human.” Hard to get outraged when you can’t see someone as fully human in the first place.

I’m sure most people would like to distance themselves from the kind of horrific attack that happened in Japan. But until we acknowledge that this killer in many ways achieved precisely the erasure of disabled people that society itself systemically, if sometimes unconsciously, supports, we will stay a lot closer on the continuum to that killer than most of us want to be.

May this event, and this powerful article, push us to be more attentive to and more caring for all of those individuals who society subtly labels “less than fully human.”

5. Live Ask Us Anything about Bioethics

We will be making additional announcements about this over the next several days, but you’re hearing it here first. Next Friday morning (August 26), CBC Founder and President Jennifer Lahl and CBC Executive Director Matthew Eppinette will be hosting a Facebook Live Video Q&A session on the CBC Facebook Page. Feel free to prime the pump by posting questions on our Facebook Page or by messaging us there. And, of course, we will be taking questions in real time during the Live Video as well. More details will follow next week about the exact time, so stay tuned to our Facebook Page.

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