Each year at this time I 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 (winners), and those who did not (losers).
Renate Klein is a winner for her new book Surrogacy: A Human Rights Violation. She is a lifelong scholar and activist who has worked for decades opposing third-party assisted reproduction. Her book is a solid contribution to the important debate around surrogacy. She unapologetically calls for the absolute abolishment of the practice as a violation of human rights.
Farr Curlin, M.D. will receive the 2018 Paul Ramsey Award, which is given to those who have done exemplary work in the field of Bioethics. Dr. Curlin’s valuable contribution is in the space of end-of-life and palliative care of dying patients.
Elon Musk continues to impress me not only with his Tesla cars, but also with his thoughtfulness on the ethics of artificial intelligence. He is both a winner and a loser this year (see below). He’s a winner because he has gone on record saying that artificial intelligence is a threat to people and should not be controlled by a handful of “major companies” like Google.
High school students in Adelaide, Australia are visiting with nursing home residents, listening to stories from their lives, and helping them write up memoirs. This is a terrific idea! What a great way to care for aging adults and connect young people with the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before. This is how we are to support and care for one another.
Kelly Martinez and Jessica Allen, surrogate mothers we supported this year as they courageously shared their personal stories. Kelly bravely spoke at the U.N. with me, and traveled all the way to Madrid, Spain to speak with media and to tell Span’s Parliament Members to StopSurrogacyNow. Jessica Allen contacted us after discovering she had given birth to her own child along with a baby for a couple from China. Her story went viral, which lead to numerous interviews and an appearance on Dr. Oz, because of the rare event called superfetation. Canadian journalist Alison Motluk turned her story into an outstanding audio documentary you can listen to on (the other) CBC website.
Brave physicians like palliative care Dr. Vincent Nguyen who are speaking out against assisted suicide, saying it must not be a priority in end-of-life care. Writing in the Orange County Register, in California, the latest state to pass assisted-suicide legislation, Dr. Nguyen wants to see palliative care prioritized with hospice care in order to help people live until they die naturally. Amen!
Arizona Representative Trent Franks resigned after a 15 year career on Capitol Hill for allegedly pursuing two female staff to serve as surrogates for he and his wife. Pro-life politicians like Mr. Franks should be on the right side of issues like surrogacy, but instead he’s part of the problem.
China is utilizing their police force to randomly, without warning or consent, take DNA samples from its citizens in order to build the world’s largest DNA database. This takes the debate over the privacy of genetic information to a whole new level.
The frozen “surplus, leftover” human embryo is sadly another loser this year. In one of our most popular pieces, I respond to a question frequently asked about embryo donation and adoption. In the end, these abandoned embryos suffer an absurd fate.
Ontario, Canada’s All Families Are Equal Act recognizes up to four adults who can co-parent children. Harmful, “politically correct” legislation like this treats children as products to be acquired by adults who selfishly want children, and ignores the needs children have for stable, biologically-related parenting.
Dr. Donald Cline, an Indiana fertility doctor who used his own sperm to inseminate his patients, without their knowledge or permission, will not serve any jail time. The now adult children born from Cline’s sperm are busy picking up the pieces of their shattered families. Thanks to DNA testing, these individuals are finding and connecting with half-siblings.
Back to Elon Musk, he’s not only a winner (see above) but also a loser for saying that human beings need to become cyborgs in order to compete in an artificial intelligent age.
Maybe one year there will be a year when there are no losers. But I’m not holding my breath!
- 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.