Blog Posts (77)
February 4, 2016
This blog has carried several posts about the ethical issues surrounding gene editing in humans. The next round of public discussions is scheduled for next week, Feb. 11-12. The National Academies of Science and Medicine have been holding meetings to address the state of the science and the attendant ethical issues. In December, a first meeting was held in Washington, DC. That meeting produced a... // Read More »
December 31, 2015
A recent conversation from my IRB work—for several reasons, I must limit the details of the case: An IRB had received, for review and approval, a research protocol for gene editing of human embryos obtained from an IVF clinic. The embryos would be at about the 150-cell stage—an early stage at which some (incorrectly, as I understand the science) believe a fertilized, dividing-and-differentiating zygote has... // Read More »
December 16, 2015
Jon Holmlund’s 12/10 post on the use of somatic cell gene modification to treat sickle cell disease and two recent articles in The Telegraph have me thinking about human germline genetic modification again. One of the points in Jon’s post was that somatic cell genetic modification does not have the ethical problems of germ line genetic modification. The Telegraph articles discuss a group that has... // Read More »
December 4, 2015
A 3-day international conference on human gene editing has ended, with the conferees reportedly having issued a statement declaring it would be “irresponsible” to try to initiate a human pregnancy with an embryo that had some genes edited by modern techniques, much less create a human embryo using sperm or an egg that had been gene-edited. In the latter case, the changes would be heritable,... // Read More »
November 4, 2015
An article last week on Medscape reported that the results a new study on IVF were announced at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine 2015 Annual Meeting. The president of the ASRM was reported as saying the study findings “provide a lot of reassurance that the kinds of treatment that some couples need to conceive, including in vitro fertilization, are not risky.” However, this statement... // Read More »
September 25, 2015
It is reported that the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) issued guidelines last week to govern the practice of mitochondrial transfer, which the UK government approved in February. In this case, the term “mitochondrial transfer” refers to any of several possible techniques that could be used to allow women with certain rare but debilitating diseases of the mitochondria—the “energy factories” of the cell—to... // Read More »
September 23, 2015
A recent article in the LA Times about a current divorce case in which there is dispute about what will happen to five frozen embryos created by the couple reminds us that our society is conflicted about what to think about cryopreserved embryos. This is an example of how technology and its ability to enable us to do whatever we desire to do gets ahead... // Read More »
September 14, 2015
In a recent post Jon Holmlund cited Thomas B. Edsall’s op-ed in the New York Times, “The Republican Conception of Conception.” Edsall was referring to the concept that life begins at conception. It is his hope that Republicans either stake a consistent position regarding the morality of post-conception “contraception” and incur the disfavor of the electorate, or abandon their “moral purity” in favor of “pragmatism” and... // Read More »
August 24, 2015
A video released by The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) about Planned Parenthood included these words: “Some viewers may find this content disturbing.” It was to warn the viewer about the images of piled fetal body parts dumped from a bag by an abortion clinic worker. What might be most disturbing…and chilling…is not the body parts, but the casual and glib attitudes of the Planned Parenthood... // Read More »
August 7, 2015
Much has been written about “the Planned Parenthood videos” taken by the activist group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), far beyond my poor power to add or detract. But I can’t help but think that, as with organ donation at the end of life, once practitioners start looking beyond the death of a human being, their mindset is on a procedure, not on humanity. The... // Read More »
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August 27, 2012 8:51 am
“My instinct is this will be available certainly in the next decade, and probably sooner,” said Benjamin E. Berkman, MPH, deputy director of the Bioethics Core at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md. But the medical community is not prepared to address the clinical challenges and ethical issues that probably will accompany the procedure, say some bioethicists and geneticists.
August 15, 2012 9:41 am
Of course the natural objection is that I’m discussing a problem which doesn’t exist. I wish this were so, but there’s a whole bioethics industry whose bread & butter is to trade in flimsy and specious reasoning, which might appeal to politicians who are will to purchase specious reasoning for purposes of their demagoguery. For example, As Prices for Prenatal Genome Sequencing Tests Fall, Researchers Worry About Consequences for Families in a Real-Life ‘Gattaca’.
August 8, 2012 3:12 pm
Parents-to-be may be able to have their unborn child screened for homosexuality within a matter of a few years, according to a visiting American expert in bioethics. Professor Robert Klitzman of Columbia University’s Centre for Bioethics has told TV ONE’s Close Up that genetic tests are now being developed to look for autism, alzheimers and various types of cancers. “We may find tests with homosexuality for instance,” he said.
August 2, 2012 10:01 am
On Thursday, Arizona’s new abortion law will take effect, outlawing the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy — a much earlier threshold than in any other law that has been upheld in court. Like-minded laws have been enacted in Nebraska, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Georgia and Louisiana, and a bill similarly limiting abortion in the District drew support Tuesday from a majority of the U.S. House, but not from enough members to pass.
July 13, 2012 1:19 pm
In theory, they’re just like any other loan company—except that they’re dealing with a population of borrowers who are often far more emotionally vulnerable than your average home buyer, and many of these lenders seem totally comfortable taking advantage of that fact. There are some that charge exorbitant interest rates, and others that are engaging in something far more unethical: Snyderman reports that some lenders are giving fertility doctors kickbacks or a stake in the company in exchange for sending customers their way. Ugh.
July 13, 2012 1:09 pm
Itil is concerned that doctors might not be ready to opt for surgery once the law is in place: “How can a law decide when a patient requires a certain treatment? This is against medical ethics, and the art of medicine in general. Turkey will set a very negative example with this law.”
July 12, 2012 12:22 pm
Even with success stories like the Clintons’, some experts are concerned that desperate couples could get into financial trouble – and that doctors who own a share of the loan companies might be crossing ethical boundaries.
June 28, 2012 8:13 pm
A new documentary exploring the ethical implications of sperm donation is creating a buzz among religious audiences. “Anonymous Father’s Day” delves into bioethics from the perspective of donor-conceived children who grow up not knowing their biological fathers. The film gives fodder to opponents of assisted reproductive technology, who argue the fertility “industry” has led to psychologically scarred children and the “commodification” of human life.
June 20, 2012 1:13 pm
It is an uncomfortable question that, in today’s world, is often asked by expectant mothers who had more than one male partner at the time they became pregnant. Who is the father? With more than half of births to women under 30 now out of wedlock, it is a question that may arise more often. Now blood tests are becoming available that can determine paternity as early as the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy, without an invasive procedure that could cause a miscarriage.
April 26, 2012 9:45 am
A royal commission, several parliamentary committees, an act of Parliament and a federal agency have all debated reproductive technologies, touching on a quagmire of legal, social and ethical issues that include the exploitation of surrogates and the sale of sperm and eggs before the advent of cryopreservation. Prof. Françoise Baylis, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University in Halifax, advised the royal commission and later sat on the board of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada before she quit in frustration in 2010 over concerns about its management.
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