1. Join us for Dinner!
The Board of Directors of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network cordially invites you to The Fourteenth Paul Ramsey Award Dinner on Saturday, March 28 in Diablo, California. We will be honoring Dr. Farr Curlin, recipient of the 2018 Paul Ramsey Award for Excellence in Bioethics. Also joining us will be Katy Faust, the Founder of Them Before Us. Our Paul Ramsey Institute Scholars, Fellows, and alumni will also be in attendance.
If you’ve never been to a Ramsey Dinner, they really are terrific events. Past recipients of the Ramsey Award include Edmund D. Pellegrino, Gilbert Meilaender, Leon Kass, Mary Ann Glendon, David Solomon, Brent Waters, and others. Several of the acceptance speeches have been truly exceptional pieces (e.g., this one and this one) that are worth reading and re-reading.
2. The Virtues of Mutually Shared Dependence
Last week, I had just finished writing This Week in Bioethics #97 (TWIB) when I saw that an article I had been interviewed for was published. I was asked to comment on the news that a 29-year-old woman in the Netherlands died by euthanasia, which she had been allowed to do because of mental illness rather than a terminal disease diagnosis. My comments were that this is yet another case that demonstrates there simply are no limits on the kinds of suffering that will be granted euthanasia or assisted suicide. Further, the larger context of assisted suicide and euthanasia involves a loss of the concept of mutually shared dependence. None of us are as independent as we imagine ourselves to be. (Re)Embracing that concept will not only help us to care better for one another, it will also help each of us allow ourselves to be cared for, which can be very difficult.
3. A Renewed Call to Stop Surrogacy
In 2015, a group of 23 NGOs (including The Center for Bioethics and Culture) from eight countries, and two international networks (including Stop Surrogacy Now), sent a detailed report to the Hague warning of the dangers of surrogacy, and highlighting the inconsistencies between surrogacy and international laws, treaties, and human rights standards. It seems to have been completely ignored, so last week they (we) renewed their (our) argument, specifically targeting the Experts’ Group on Parentage / Surrogacy.
Surrogacy is a huge market of several billion dollars, entirely built on the ownership of the female body and on the transformation of children into commodities. It is not a reproductive technology (technically, it is nothing more than in vitro fertilization) but an exploitative social practice, which has to be abolished.
From a legal point of view, we would like to draw to the attention of the Experts’ Group the blatant contradiction between the mechanisms at stake in surrogacy and the core principles of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. In order to prevent the trafficking and buying of reproductive capacities, Article 4 of this Convention provides, as a fundamental rule, that the consent of the birth parents, in particular the consent of the mother, can only be given after the birth of the child (prohibition of prior arrangements and of any planned abandonment of the child), and cannot been obtained through payment or compensation of any kind. However, the existence of such arrangements and financial compensations are a core component of surrogacy: the price of the service provided by the mother, and therefore the price of the child to be born, is the object of a preliminary agreement. There is hence a blatant contradiction between surrogacy and the philosophy underlying the Convention on Intercountry Adoption, a contradiction which cannot be covered up by any legal or semantic artifice. The Hague Conference cannot, without being inconsistent, encourage on the one hand what it rightfully opposes on the other hand.
Moreover, surrogacy contradicts many international conventions on the protection of human rights, e.g. the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, as demonstrated in the study enclosed / attached.
4. Lab-Grown Ears
Chinese scientists appear to have succeeded in using patients’ own cartilage cells to grow ears for children whose ears did not develop normally. This is a long sought-after advance. One always has to be cautious in applauding work in China as their oversight and safety mechanisms differ considerably from other countries. However, the same article reports that similar work is being done in the US and UK with patients’ own stem cells. On the whole, this seems to be a positive development that once again shows the power of using non-controversial cells rather than embryonic cells.
5. Excellent News out of Nigeria!
The African region of the World Medical Association, at a recent meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, issued a call for improved palliative care rather than an embrace of assisted suicide or euthanasia. This is exactly right. Think of how much good could be done if the time, talent, and treasure that is being used to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia were put into palliative care!
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