Blog Posts (49)
October 17, 2014
Story: a white couple ordered sperm from a sperm bank, stipulating that it be from a white man, for artificial insemination; however, in the delivery room, it was immediately apparent that they didn’t get what they ordered, as their newborn daughter was mixed-race. The couple is now suing the sperm bank for $50,000. In Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune, columnist Dahleen Glanton wrote a commentary on this... // Read More »
August 23, 2014
I just finished reading a very dry book on organizational theory as applied to reproductive medicine. The book was a Swedish observational study evaluating the sociomaterial aspects of that subspecialty, particularly Swedish IVF clinics. While the book did not directly address ethical issues in reproductive medicine, it did note some of them in passing. One that caught my eye was issue of the choice of... // Read More »
August 21, 2014
If you knew you had a gene mutation that confers a high risk of cancer, would you use IVF and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to prevent passing on the mutation to your offspring? That is the question that cancer doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston put to 155 young women, still of childbearing potential, with breast cancer. The doctors actually asked their patients... // Read More »
July 8, 2014
The recent Supreme Court decision, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, has been hailed as a victory for religious rights, but in the Supreme Court’s majority opinion there are ominous signs for bioethics. First, no commentator so far has mentioned that the Supreme Court decision implies that the only legally viable objection to underwriting abortifacient interventions must be religious in nature. The thin margin of decision by... // Read More »
July 3, 2014
I am in the camp that applauds this week’s Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. But of course others disagree, and I was not surprised to see that there is alarm on the pages of the New England Journal of Medicine. A “Perspectives” article written by two attorneys (one with a bioethics degree) and one M.D. includes two graphs, in particular, that I... // Read More »
June 14, 2014
Once upon a time in a fairy tale land that now seems far, far away, young people fell in love, got married, and started a family. But the idea of “starting a family” has taken on new meaning as pregnancy has come under the rubric of technological control. Increasingly, it is not about having children but about “making babies.” With the advent of technology and... // Read More »
June 12, 2014
Yesterday’s post by Steve Phillips raises a central question for us in the “biotech century”: are there some sorts of experiments that fundamentally ought not be done because of the potential they will be grossly misapplied by bad actors? Steve cited research by Lord Robert Winston seeking to create genetically altered pigs—that seem, from the description in the press, to be what scientists call “transgenic”... // Read More »
June 11, 2014
Germline genetic modification is a technique that some find intriguing and many find very concerning when its use is considered in humans. However there are uses of germline genetic modifications in animals that may impact humans in multiple ways. In an article in The Telegraph, British researcher Robert Winston talks about current research to develop animal organs (usually from pigs) that could be genetically modified... // Read More »
May 29, 2014
That is the title of a news piece accessible at Nature’s website this week. It refers to something that Steve Phillips and I posted on back in February; to wit, the potential for “three parent babies” resulting from the transfer of a nucleus (and its genetic material) from a diseased mother’s egg cell into the enucleated egg from a healthy donor. (I am skipping important... // Read More »
May 17, 2014
At times our unreflective declarations, pronouncements, and moral positions made without adequate forethought consequentially lead to moral conundrums, with which we are then left to wrestle. A recent article entitled “The Fetus, the “Potential Child,” and the Ethical Obligations of Obstetricians,” in Obstetrics and Gynecology exemplifies an effort to reframe just such a conundrum. In this article, the authors attempt to justify a physician’s obligation... // 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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