This Week in Bioethics #114

by Matthew Eppinette, CBC Executive Director on June 1, 2018

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1. New Jersey Legalizes Commercial Gestational Surrogacy

Sadly, NJ Gov. Murphy has signed into law S482, which authorizes gestational carrier agreements. We’ve been following this bill closely for several months. We know that many, many people worked tirelessly to oppose the bill and to encourage Gov. Murphy to veto it. This is a major disappointment.

But we are redoubling our educational efforts on the on the dangers of being a surrogate and on the harms of using a surrogate. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean people have to do it! #FightOn #StopSurrogacyNow

2. What’s Really Wrong with Donor Conception?

England’s Channel 4 this week aired a documentary on “Super Sperm Donors,” four men who between them have fathered nearly 200 children. Several outlets have reported on the sordid details — it’s all unregulated person-to-person transactions, these men seem obsessed with having a large number of offspring, one of the men failed to mention to his wife that his hobby was driving his van to meet women all over the country, and so on. And it’s easy to see this as outrageous. But examples like this actually serve to mask the real problems with donor conception. They can make us think the problems are at the fringes of the practice.

The truth is, though, that thousands of donor-conceived people have a deep longing to know who they belong to, where they come from, and who they look like. It’s not a guy with a van that’s the main problem. Rather, donor conception is outrageous because it is the intentional separation of children from their origins, not due to some situation that could in no other way be remedied or avoided. No, donor conception is an intentional, planned separation of child from parent, simply because it meets adult desires.

For a serious look at the many, very real problems of donor conception, watch our Anonymous Father’s Day and see our issue overview.

3. BuzzFeed Weighs in on IVF

BuzzFeed describes itself as a “digital media company delivering news and entertainment.” It’s known for its listicles and, apparently, exploding watermelons. Prominently featured on its homepage are sections devoted to LOL, wtf, and omg.

One of their recent listicles is “18 Answers To Every In Vitro Fertilization Question You’ve Ever Had.” It features a fertility center lab director saying things like “this has not been clearly established,” and “there is not much data” when discussing the risks of IVF and the success statistics. The article, as is usually the case on BuzzFeed, is filled with a host of gifs, memes, and clip art that taken together serve to downplay the seriousness of the topic of human reproduction. Begetting has become making and manufacturing, and now it’s become an internet meme.

4. Portugal Rejects Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, New Jersey Considers Assisted Suicide

This doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of media coverage, but it is very encouraging news. The Portuguese legislature this week rejected four separate, although similar, bills seeking to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Way to go Portugal!

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, bill A1504 –- Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act — is under consideration. In response, a family physician penned a thoughtful and detailed article outlining three reasons why the people of his state should reject it. Assisted suicide is no good for New Jersey (or any other state or nation) because: 1.) Studies show that legalizing assisted suicide and increases in overall suicide go hand-in-hand. 2.) Assisted suicide proponents promise that it will be limited to the terminally ill, but that has not been the case anywhere else. 3.) The way the Act is written it could, and likely would, enable elder abuse, a problem that is known to affect 10% of our elder population. May the New Jersey legislature heed the wise words of this physician (and follow in the footsteps of Portugal).

5. Korean Court Rules Surrogate is Mother

A couple in South Korea, where surrogacy is illegal, hired a surrogate mother who gave birth in the United States. The hospital put the surrogate mother’s name on the birth certificate, and when the Korean couple applied to have that revised, the Seoul Family Court ruled against them.

“The mother-child relationship includes an emotional phase built over a long period of time, such as 40 weeks of pregnancy and the pain of labor and feeding,” the court said. “It is appropriate to protect by law the maternity developed through such an emotional bond.”

This is a thorny situation — who is this child’s mother? — but one that would never occur if we were to #StopSurrogacyNow

Lagniappe

A surrogacy agency called Conceptual Options has released a surrogacy and egg donation emoji app. Yes, that’s right, it’s an app for sending emoji related to surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation, intended parenthood, etc. There are no words for how much we do not need this.

Finally, in better news, we have a major announcement coming next week about our new film #BigFertility. Stay tuned!

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

 

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