1. Science in Secret

The mission of the CBC is to educate and inform on ethical issues related to healthcare, biomedical research, and biotechnology, so it was very disturbing to read that scientists attending “a meeting to talk about research into synthesizing a human genome were allegedly given a broad-gag order prohibiting them from even saying publicly that the meeting was happening.” This was exposed when one scientist tweeted, “If you need secrecy to discuss your proposed research (synthesizing a human genome) you are doing something wrong.” Matters that affect our common human future depend on us all being a part of the conversation, not just the scientific elite.

2. Attempting to Restart Brains

A U.S. biotech company, Bioquark, has been granted permission to move forward with research that may reactivate the brains of people who have been declared dead. An institutional review board has given permission to use 20 patients from the U.S. and India to attempt to “stimulate their nervous systems in order to restart the brains . . . hoping that its part in the groundbreaking ReAnima project will reveal if people can at least partly be brought back from the dead.” Using several therapies along with injecting the brains with stem cells, the patients will be monitored to assess brain function.

3. Is Surrogacy Coming to Portugal?

Portugal is moving forward with possible legislation permitting infertile couples to use surrogacy in order to have a baby. This is unfortunate news given recent statements from the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and countries like Sweden, which have all spoken out strongly against surrogacy. European politics are such that member countries can still adopt their own laws. We see these types of laws as Trojan horse laws—once a country decides it is ethical to employ a surrogate to get a baby, the question why limit it to only infertile couples? The only practice that protects both women and children is to ban surrogacy completely. #StopSurrogacyNow

4. Surrogacy Is Coming to Louisiana

The Louisiana house and senate have approved a bill that will create a “regulatory framework” for surrogate contracts in the state. They have bought the lie that if surrogacy is regulated there will be no problems. After some the house makes some “technical changes” to the bill, it is headed to the desk of recently elected Governor John Bel Edwards. All indications are that he will sign it into law, unlike Louisiana’s former governor, Bobby Jindal, who twice vetoed similar legislation. This is very sad news for women and children in Louisiana. State Senator Gary Smith has been the driving force behind this legislation for years since he and his wife came to California to hire women to be surrogates for them.

5. Regulation will NOT Stop All Harms

Speaking of regulation, I wonder how a regulatory framework would have helped prevent this tragic and horrifying surrogacy story? A man in Australia has been sentenced to 22 years in prison after it was discovered he abused his 27-day-old-twin surrogate daughters and his two nieces. After years of infertility, the couple turned to surrogacy in order to have the twin girls. Apparently, what started out as a “casual observer of child abuse material” led to this disgusting treatment of these little girls. There are no words for this kind of abuse.

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by  Jellaluna via flickr (CC BY 2.0)