Each year at this time we look back over the past twelve months with an eye toward identifying those whose lives and work actively promoted and affirmed a truly human future, and those who did not.
At the top of our list is our hero Kathleen Sloan, who goes where many people don’t dare to go—truly into the lion’s den. Kathy regularly speaks out courageously against the exploitation and commodification of women. For these reasons she is high on our winner list this year because she has worked tirelessly, often getting viciously attacked, with little to no financial reward.
Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France, spoke out strongly against surrogacy, stating it “is and will be banned in France” because it is “an intolerable commercialization of human beings and commodification of women’s bodies.”
Journalist and author Kajsa Ekman likens surrogacy to baby trafficking and calls surrogacy “prostitution’s little sister.” She calls for a ban on the practice before it becomes an industry larger than prostitution.
Surrogacy is currently illegal in Sweden, but as the Swedish government is considering allowing the practice, the Swedish Women’s Lobby launched an important campaign called, Feminists No to Surrogate Motherhood to protect against the exploitation of women and their bodies.
Maggie Karner, a wife and mother of three who was diagnosed with the terminal brain cancer, glioblastoma, has chosen to die naturally rather than invoking a ‘right to die’ as Brittany Maynard did. Karner is not only a winner but also a hero for boldly speaking out against euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in the wake of her devastating diagnosis.
Several states are winners in 2014 for defeating assisted-suicide laws. New Hampshire and Connecticut saw broad coalitions work together to defeat an attempt to legalize assisted suicide, while other states, like Massachusetts, were able to kill bills in the current legislative cycle.
Carl Djerassi, father of the Pill, at age 91, is still provocative. His latest claim asserts that with new assisted reproductive technologies, it won’t be long until sex is only for fun. He even admits that his birth control pill will no longer be needed as people will opt for voluntary sterilization!
Uterine Transplants: not all progress is good, and in this case there are still many safety and ethical factors to worry about. Just like organ transplantation, there are many risks surrounding rejection, as well as serious risks posed to the developing fetus. Where will we draw the lines on who, when, why, and how many times will we transplant a uterus?
The New Jersey state Assembly has passed a “death with dignity” law. It has now passed out of a Senate committee with reservations and awaits a possible vote by that full body. Should it pass the Senate, it would then need to be signed into law by Governor Christie. If it is signed into law, New Jersey will be the fourth state to permit assisted suicide, a definite loser for those who need care and not killing.
We’ve been saying for years that three-parent embryo technology, which purports to prevent passing on mitochondrial diseases, is unsafe. Now Evan Snyder, a professor in human genetics has said there are too many safety concerns to allow this technique to move forward in human trials. Stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler has also written “there are too many unanswered questions and risks that remain to allow it to proceed at this time.” Nonetheless, Britain’s department of health and our own FDA continue to consider implementing the idea. Human experimentation is wrong.
Facebook and Apple share loser status for their new employee benefit for women. Offering to pay for risky egg freezing schemes is no benefit. We wonder if these companies will be required to pay when women’s health is harmed and their hopes are dashed by thinking they can beat biology?
No CBC annual loser list would be complete without a celebrity pick. Tied this year are Jimmy Fallon with his wife Nancy Juvonen, and Bryan Singer. Fallon and his wife welcomed their second child via surrogacy this year, and Singer announced that his “best friend,” actress Michelle Clunie, will serve as a surrogate so that he can have a child. Again we see children as products designed by adult whims and desires.
- 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.