In spite of being a four-day, holiday week, this has been a busy one on the bioethics front. Here are five things that stood out this week.
1. #CyborgOlympics Brain Race
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ran a detailed item on the cyborg olympics’ brain race. It largely focuses on noninvasive brain-computer interfaces and their potential to assist people with disabilities with everyday tasks, but there is brief discussion on implantable brain-computer interfaces. There are also important questions about the line between therapy — restoring health and functionality — and enhancement — making someone “better than well” — that could come up with brain-computer interfaces. Of course there are a spectrum of possible outcomes — restoring humanity, improving humanity, abandoning humanity — and we must think long and hard about the ends to which such technology should be put.
2. Yet Another Situation that Cries Out: #StopSurrogacyNow
The Des Moines Register reports on a surrogacy case in Iowa that is, you guessed it, a huge mess. In broad strokes, a couple hired a surrogate, promising to pay her $13,000 when she handed over the child and terminated her parental rights. During the pregnancy, a dispute arose, and now the couple and the surrogate are engaged in a court battle for custody of “Baby H.” It is a very messy case that serves as one more reason why everyone should get on board with the message #StopSurrogacyNow. Have you signed the #StopSurrogacyNow Statement? Now is a good time to do so!
3. Very Good News on #AssistedSuicide
It isn’t getting as much attention as it should, but New York State’s Court of Appeals ruled this week that the state’s ban on assisted suicide does not violate the state constitution and therefore stands. This ruling comes on the heels of news that “Twenty-three states have rejected bills attempting to legalize assisted suicide since the beginning of 2017, and these bills are now considered dead for the remainder of the year.”
The success in beating back legalization or expansion of assisted suicide has been mainly due to the committed opposition of legislators from both political parties, and broad coalitions of organizations – both progressive and conservative — in each state, that are working tirelessly to educate legislative bodies and the public on the issue. These coalitions include all major disability rights organizations, medical community members and associations, faith-based organizations, life and family advocacy groups, patient advocates, elder abuse lawyers, and more.
More and more people are realizing that legalizing suicide assistance corrupts medicine, undermines the viability of suicide prevention efforts by sending a mixed societal message, and threatens the lives and equal societal status of the weakest and most vulnerable among us.
4. #Eggsploitation in Nigeria
Punch magazine recently ran an in-depth article on the big business of selling human eggs in the country of Nigeria. Their reporter, Motunrayo Joel, went undercover in three fertility clinics in Lagos. She found that young women there undergo the process of egg retrieval for about $300 USD (N120,000). Among her findings, egg “donors” are told not to come in through the front doors of the clinic so that they aren’t seen by and don’t interact with the women who will be receiving their eggs. The potential complications for the egg donors are downplayed by the clinics, whose focus is on the bottom line. Or as we have long called it, typical #Eggsploitation.
5. #Summer is Over, We Have a Busy #Fall Planned
Summer always seems to fly by, but we do our best to make the most of any summer lull. At CBC, we use the summer to catch up and plan out so we can hit the ground running right after Labor Day. As we look toward the fall and the end of 2017, click through to read all about what we have planned!
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In truth, these items are only a few of the bioethics items that hit our radar this week. For more, be sure to follow us on Facebook and twitter.