The Commonwealth of Massachusetts: This past November, voters resoundingly rejected Question 2, which would have legalized physician assisted suicide. It failed by a majority of 51% of the vote and was defeated largely due to broad, bipartisan support across political ideologies because people understand there is no ‘death with dignity’. As a nurse, I was most encouraged that this was opposed by nurses!
Alana S. Newman: One fearless young woman, who goes where no man or woman dares. Even if that means going into the belly of the beast, daring to attend a fundraising event in NYC to challenge gay men from using women as surrogate wombs and egg donors so they can have a baby. Alana, a donor-conceived woman, runs AnonymousUs.org and is a strong advocate for children, who often aren’t considered in the pursuit to have a child no matter how extreme the measures.
Cindy Close: A Houston woman who entered into an agreement with a platonic friend to use in vitro fertilization technologies to have children they would co-parent. Cindy was denied rights to the twins after giving birth because her friend said he was gay and Cindy was his surrogate. As of this writing, the courts have ruled that Cindy is the mother of the babies, but parenting rights are still being decided. A movement across the country to “Give Cindy Back Her Babies” quickly mobilized to tell the world women are not Easy Bake Ovens!
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: After a bi-partisan coalition joined forces to oppose the “Gestational Carrier Agreement Act” we were happy to secure the Governor’s veto on a bill that was fast-tracked for passage. Remarkable indeed was the group that came together, ranging from pro-choice feminist leaders to the head of New Jersey Right to Life and including a woman who condemned the practice and deeply regretted her decision to serve as a surrogate.
Dr. Shinya Yamanaka: A researcher wins the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his breakthrough in stem cell research. During the height of the embryonic stem cell debate, Yamanaka became known as the scientist who said, when he looked at embryos under the microscope, it caused him to think of his daughters.
NBC’s The New Normal: There is nothing new and nothing normal going on in NBC’s new sitcom about a gay couple and their surrogate. The exploitation of some by others has been with us since the beginning of time. What’s new is that such behavior is lauded as normal and even entertaining. This is a whole new level of offensive.
Faith Haugh: After going through 41 egg donation cycles, Haugh was diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer. In December she lost her life, the children created from her eggs may or may not ever know who she was, let alone important
details about their genetic mother’s medical history. No one wins when an egg donor dies.
New Zealand: A landmark case in the Rights of Nature, the Whanganui River has been granted rights. Within the eyes of the law, the river has the legal standing of a person, with legal personhood, “in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests.”
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: In a unanimous three-judge decision, they ruled that people can sell their bone marrow, arguing that bone marrow is not an organ but a blood part, therefore permitting compensation. Testing the moral limits of the markets, one has to wonder, just what can’t money buy these days?
The Three-Parent Baby: Well, actually, the baby is not the loser, but those who are using this new technique — taking the egg from the mother, along with an egg from another woman, and sperm from the father in an attempt to create a child who will not inherit a genetic defect that would otherwise be passed on by the mother. In theory, this will be a child with DNA from three people. Human experimentation on future generations!
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.
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