This Week in Bioethics

by Matthew Eppinette, CBC Executive Director on September 29, 2017

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1. Update 1 on Melissa Cook’s Surrogacy Case

Melissa Cook contacted Jennifer right before Thanksgiving last year with a plea for help. Jennifer vividly remembers the feeling of panic when speaking to Melissa by phone, begging her not to abort the babies she was carrying, telling her that she could NOT be forced to abort or be bullied into doing so, and letting her know we would do everything we could to get her legal help. So it should be no surprise that we are following her case very closely.

Melissa has been fighting for custody of the children she carried, and recently new and disturbing allegations have surfaced against the man who hired Melissa. Right now we are waiting to hear whether her case will be heard by the The United States Supreme Court. Be sure to watch our Facebook and Twitter feeds for the latest updates as we receive them.

2. Update 2 on Melissa Cook’s Surrogacy Case

Our friends at Public Discourse ran an article on Monday delving into the issues at stake before the Supreme Court in Melissa’s case. As it stands, surrogacy has carved out a unique place in the law so that, for example, “According to California’s surrogacy law, the best interests of the child cannot be considered, because he or she is a purchased commodity subject to property and contract law.” The long-and-short of it is:

Surrogacy is creating a generation of children severed from biological and genetic identity and a breeder class of marginalized women. Both are being transformed into commodities for sale on the global marketplace. This can only be accepted and condoned by a society untethered from any sense of ethics, human rights, dignity, or moral values. When the primal bond—as ancient as humankind itself—between mother and child is destroyed, what will be left?

This is why we launched the #StopSurrogacyNow coalition. We are thankful for the impact it has already had around the world. Join the movement: click here to add your name to the #StopSurrogacyNow petition.

3. Chatbots: Advancement or Abandonment?

Researchers have designed a chatbot — an interactive computer program — to communicate with people about a wide range of end-of-life decisions: preparing a will, funeral arrangements, desires regarding palliative care, and even spiritual matters related to dying and death. The motivation for this is that such conversations can be difficult, both for the person who is facing the end of their life as well as for the caregiver (family member, physician, counsellor, etc.) with whom they talk. What, though, are we giving up — or missing out on — if we turn these kinds of difficult conversations over to computers? Is this truly and advancement? Or is it a form of abandonment?  

4. Public Policy Should Protect, Not Enable

The Salt Lake Tribune this week ran an opinion article that argues strenuously against government sanctioning of contract surrogate pregnancies. The author wrote, correctly, “a child is not an entitlement that can be claimed, and a woman is not an object for effectuating the desires of others for a child.” He concluded, “we must ensure that our policies not treat children as commodities. We must also ensure that women, euphemistically called ‘egg donors’ or ‘surrogates,’ are not treated as commodities used to produce children for others.” Indeed, sir, indeed. For more, see my 2016 testimony to the Minnesota Legislative Committee on Surrogacy, and/or our extensive resources on the issue of surrogacy.

5. Congressional Resolution Rejecting Assisted Suicide Introduced

A non-partisan alliance against assisted suicide this week introduced a Concurrent Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives rejecting assisted suicide. Specifically, the resolution is a statement “Expressing the sense of the Congress that assisted suicide (sometimes referred to as death with dignity, end-of-life options, aid-in-dying, or similar phrases) puts everyone, including those most vulnerable, at risk of deadly harm and undermines the integrity of the health care system.” This is a clear statement on the very real and well-documented harms of assisted suicide. The lawmakers and teams who worked behind the scenes are to be congratulated for their hard work in bringing this forward.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by Martin Fisch via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

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