This Week in Bioethics #96

by Matthew Eppinette, Director of Programs on January 26, 2018

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1. Truth and Spin about Egg “Donation”

Dr. Jennifer Schneider, who appears in our film “Eggsploitation,” and who co-authored an important journal article with Jennifer Lahl last year, appears in a CBS San Francisco news report discussing her daughter’s egg “donation.” Beware, though, there is so much wrong with what the doctor at UCSF says too in this segment.

2. Anonymous No More

Are you following our Anonymous Father’s Day community on Facebook? They’re posting a lot of great content there. For example, with the increase in direct-to-consumer DNA testing combined with genealogical research, anonymity for sperm “donors” is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The (other) CBC quotes one donor-conceived person as saying, “Anyone that donates sperm should understand that they’re making people…those people have a right to know where they come from.” Exactly!

3. Gene Editing in China

China is racing ahead with gene editing trials as their system is, as the Wall Street Journal headline says, “Unhampered by Rules.” This is a powerful technology that needs much closer scrutiny, and that needs to be held much, much more tightly.

Western scientists the Journal interviewed didn’t suggest America’s stringent requirements should be weakened. Instead, many advocate an international consensus on ethical issues around a science that makes fundamental changes to human DNA yet still isn’t completely understood.

4. Golden Package Surrogacy

A woman who obtained a baby through a Chinese surrogacy agency (that uses women in Cambodia as surrogate mothers) is now trying to figure out what to do with what has turned out to be a very sick baby.

The agency’s “golden package contract” clearly states that it “guarantees the success of operation, healthy birth, DNA test and their return to China.” But when Lin [the woman who commissioned the baby] contacted the agency about her woes, they simply responded that they would “replace a new baby for her or arrange another surrogate birth, as long as it was verified to be their fault for causing the tragedy.”

It’s unclear from the article exactly what is going to happen. What is clear, though, is that no human being should be treated this way. Surrogacy is a deep violation of both women and children, which is why we have long said #StopSurrogacyNow!

5. Read the Review and then Read the Book

We’ve published and highlighted several reviews of Renata Klein’s recent book Surrogacy: A Human Rights Violation because it covers so much important ground on this issue. Recently friend of the CBC Hannah Ens, who regularly reviews books for her local paper, wrote a terrific review that we hope might motivate you to read this important book. We pulled the following quote from the review, which demonstrates the way in which Klein pushes her readers to think more deeply about the full implications of what is going on when a woman is hired to be a surrogate mother.

One of her most shocking arguments is that prostitution and surrogacy are two sides of the same coin. One offers sex without reproduction, the other offers reproduction without sex, and both reduce women to nothing more than a set of biological capabilities. The surrogacy industry’s preference for terms like “gestational carrier” over “surrogate mother” is the most basic confirmation of this; their goal is to convince the surrogate that she is nothing more than an incubator, lest she do anything so egregious as form an attachment to the child she carried for nine months.

So, again, read the review and then read the book!

Lagniappe

We had a terrific Paul Ramsey Institute Consultation last weekend. We delved into one of Paul Ramsey’s books to look at several issues as we sought to understand not just where he landed ethically on the issues but to see how and why he came to those conclusions. In addition, we examined carefully the ways the way in which he expressed his conclusions in writing, how he went about persuading his readers that we can navigate through very complicated issues and come to understand how best to treat the sick patient as a fellow person.

Right now we’re in the process of distributing the reading assignments for our next Consultation, which will feature the work of this year’s Paul Ramsey Award recipient, Farr Curlin, M.D., of Duke University. In addition, Dr. Curlin will be joining us as a Guest Scholar for the Consultation. I am very much looking forward to a focused time of discussion of Dr. Curlin’s insights on the role and work of the physician at the bedside. Following that, we will host our 14th Paul Ramsey Award Dinner. If you are at all able, please plan to join us on March 24 in Diablo, CA (full invitation to follow in a few days . . . watch this space!).

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by Matthew Eppinette

 

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