This Week in Bioethics

by Matthew Eppinette, CBC Executive Director on December 1, 2017

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1. Latest on the Sherri Shepherd Surrogacy Saga

A Pennsylvania appeals court has ruled that TV personality and actress Sherri Shepherd cannot get out of the surrogacy contract into which she and her former husband entered. The couple split up during the surrogate’s pregnancy, and so Ms. Shepherd sought to get out of her commitment to the surrogacy contract (and thus to the child). The court’s ruling means she must continue paying child support. Her ex-husband is raising the child, a one year old boy, in Los Angeles.

Perhaps the most moving and insightful comment I saw on this came via twitter. My paraphrase: Three women here could be a mother to this boy — genetic mother/egg donor, surrogate mother, commissioning mother — yet he will not know any of them. In addition, imagine the burden of finding out a woman paid handsomely to have you conceived and carried, and then fought mightily to try and stop supporting you.

You know how we can prevent situations like this in the future? We could #StopSurrogacyNow.

2. Assisted Suicide is not Medical Treatment

A palliative care physician in Orange County, California, penned a moving plea to lawmakers on the harms and dangers of legalizing assisted suicide. Writing out of his front-line experience in hospice, he emphasizes the lack of care and the abandonment that assisted suicide reflects. “It is a travesty that we put suicide on the table as ‘medical treatment’ paid for by state Medicaid dollars, helping vulnerable people kill themselves, forcing them to choose between death, care, pain, and debt.” I can’t help but note how much this message agrees with the short film we released last Fall, Compassion and Choice: DENIED. Here’s the full, 15 minute film:

3. So Much We Don’t Know

New research reveals that long-held assumptions about human fertility and procreation simply don’t hold true. Eggs are not docile receptors of sperm, but seem to play an active role in selecting the sperm that fertilize them. The upshot: “fertilization can be far from random: Certain pairings of gamete genes are much more likely than others.” All of which shows that in spite of all the work and study of human fertility and procreation that’s been done over the past 45+ years, there is still much we simply don’t know.

4. A Move to Ban All Surrogacy in Russia

Anton Belyakov, a Senator in Russia, has put forward a bill that would ban all surrogacy, both commercial and altruistic, in his country. “He says commercial surrogacy is no different from sex work, and it is already banned in most countries. Sex work is currently banned in Russia. ‘It is immoral and brings harm to both mother and the child,’ he told News Deeply.” Be sure that we and our friends in the #StopSurrogacyNow coalition will be watching the progress of this bill closely.

5. A Move to End Sperm Donor Anonymity in South Australia

The Parliament of South Australia is set to consider a bill that would undo the anonymity of sperm donors there. Health Minister Peter Malinauskas says, rightly, “people born from assisted reproductive techniques (A.R.T) should have the same rights to information about their parents as those who are conceived naturally.” Be sure that we and our friends in the Anonymous Father’s Day community will watching the progress of this bill closely.

Lagniappe

We had #BlackFriday, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #CyberMonday, and then #GivingTuesday. I think we need to add #ThankfulThursday! Jennifer and I are so very grateful for each and every donation that was made to the CBC on this year’s #GivingTuesday. You totally blew away all of our previous #GivingTuesday records. Thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU!

If you weren’t prepared to or able to participate in #GivingTuesday, we still have a $30,000 matching challenge going through the end of December. So far, including #GivingTuesday, we’ve raised a tad over $9,000, about 30% of our goal. So we still have a ways to go.

Gifts of any size are most welcome!

 
The Center for Bioethics and Culture is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit educational organization. All gifts are tax-deductible.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

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

 

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