Tag: reproduction

Blog Posts (91)

July 14, 2016

Two more biomedical editorials about the cutting edge

1)      The new issue of Nature Biotechnology carries an erratic editorial complaining that “alarmist” responses to the recent announcement that a project to synthesize an entire human genome may be launched “missed the point.”  The editors say that worries about “synthetic life and secret meetings” missed the point.  The lesser goals of the project—more “nearfetched,” if you will—call for synthesizing long, sub-genomic stretches of DNA... // Read More »
July 6, 2016

The Strange (Future) Case of Doctors & Mr. Hyde

On 28 June 2016, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Ninth Circuit decision that forced a small pharmacy in Washington to dispense Plan B (a “morning after pill” that terminates a pregnancy via abortion) despite the religious objections of the pharmacist owners. In other words, the lower court ruled that the pharmacists must violate their conscience by prescribing Plan B or... // Read More »
July 6, 2016

The Strange (Future) Case of Doctors & Mr. Hyde

On 28 June 2016, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Ninth Circuit decision that forced a small pharmacy in Washington to dispense Plan B (a “morning after pill” that terminates a pregnancy via abortion) despite the religious objections of the pharmacist owners. In other words, the lower court ruled that the pharmacists must violate their conscience by prescribing Plan B or... // Read More »
June 10, 2016

Testing, testing: Prenatal genetic screening

The June 2016 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology includes a study of the conversations between patients and “Health Care Providers” about prenatal genetic screening (PGS). The objective of the study was to “assess how obstetric health care providers counsel patients regarding prenatal genetic screening and how these conversations influence patients’ screening decisions.” PGS refers to blood and ultrasound tests performed early in pregnancy to determine... // Read More »
June 9, 2016

Mitochondrial replacement boosterism

A new Viewpoint article (available for free, without a prescription) from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) asserts that the United States is acting too slowly to advance mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs), the so-called “3-parent baby” approach that would seek to prevent mitochondrial DNA disease, which is transmitted maternally.  The authors approve of the recent recommendations by the afore-named Institute of Medicine (IOM),... // Read More »
May 27, 2016

A Bump on the Road to “3-Parent Babies”

As described in my post of February 25, and at other times on this blog, efforts are proceeding to apply “mitochondrial replacement techniques” (MRTs) to prevent severe, maternally-inherited mitochondrial disease from being passed on to children of affected women.  MRTs involve attempting to put the nucleus of an egg or embryo from an affected woman into a cell or embryo from an unaffected mom, so... // Read More »
May 20, 2016

Fabricating Man

It has been reported that last week, a group of scientists met in a closed-door session at Harvard Medical School to discuss concrete steps and industry involvement to achieve the goal of synthesizing—creating in the laboratory—an entire human genome, and putting it into a cell, within 10 years.  Reportedly led by Harvard’s George Church, a leader and chief enthusiast of the technical prospects of genetic... // Read More »
May 6, 2016

A Step Toward Ex Vivo Gestation?

The biggest news of the week has nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election.  The bigger scoop is that scientists have grown human embryos in the lab for 13 days after fertilization.  The previous record was 9 days.  The work was stopped after 13 days’ maturation because many societies ban research on human embryos that are more than 14 days old, the latest point... // Read More »
April 21, 2016

Public Attitudes about Gene Editing

A recent Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine summarizes the results of several public surveys about the acceptability of gene editing.  This summary, which is freely available to the general public online without a subscription, is worth a read.  I think it’s limited by the fact that most of the surveys listed are old.  Only two were done since 2014, and the... // Read More »
April 7, 2016

“Imago Dei” by any other name…

William Shakespeare reminded us that an object’s essence is not determined by the label we assign to it. No one has since proven Shakespeare wrong. Despite this fact, nowhere have labels been more strongly asserted than in the bioethical debate of abortion. Exactly what or who exists in the uterus of a pregnant human female? The list of labels is long and includes: “baby”, “the... // Read More »

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Published Articles (3)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 12 Issue 8 - Aug 2012

Review of Christine Overall, Why Have Children: The Ethical Debate Andrea Mechanick Braverman

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 11 Issue 3 - Mar 2011

Sexless Reproduction: A Status Symbol

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 10 Issue 11 - Nov 2010

Review of Charis Thompson, Making Parents: The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies

News (28)

August 27, 2012 8:51 am

Prenatal genome sequencing expected to pose challenges to doctors (American Medical News)

“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

Yes we should (prenatal sequencing) (Discover Magazine (blog))

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

Gay or straight baby - the choice could be yours says expert (ONE News)

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

The flawed basis behind fetal-pain abortion laws (Washington Post)

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

Is Your Fertility Doctor Taking Kickbacks? (Slate Magazine (blog))

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

Turkish doctors face fines for elective caesareans (The Guardian)

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

Growing IVF loan business helps families finance their fertility (msnbc.com (blog))

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

Conservatives line up against sperm donors, but lack the power to ban them (Washington Post)

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

Before Birth, Dad’s ID (New York Times)

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

Pregnant woman who bought U.S. donor egg speaks out (CBC News)

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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