In a landmark decision, the High Court in the UK has ruled that it is discriminatory to prevent single men or women from becoming the parents of babies born to surrogate mothers. The government will probably have to update its legislation to make it compatible with the ruling.
Until now, only couples in a stable relationship could become parents of a child born to a surrogate mother. Single people could adopt children, but they were not automatically entitled to be regarded as a parent if their child was born to a surrogate.
In this case an unnamed man used his sperm, a donor egg and a surrogate mother in Minnesota to create a child, who is called “Z” in court documents. But when he brought the baby back to the UK, he was not regarded as a parent, but rather the surrogate mother. (Ironically, in the US, the…
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Here’s an interesting promotional video for a Ukranian surrogacy clinic, BioTexCom. The company’s website advertises in Ukranian, Chinese, Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Arabic and Romanian, which gives an idea of the breadth of its market. The promotional blurb declares, “There is no absolute infertility! We treat even the most hopeless infertility cases.”
BioTexCom is the epitome of commercial,not altruistic, surrogacy. There are three levels of service: economy (29,900 Euros), standard (39,900 Euros), and VIP (49,900 Euros). The “standard” service offers pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of embryos, a 4-hour babysitter, paediatric consultation, a hotel and gourmet lunches. For “the most fastidious customers” who enrol for the VIP package there is limousine transport, a 9am-6pm babysitter and on-call paediatric advice. Its marketing on the web and social media is professional and energetic.
“There is great potential in germline therapy. There are clearly diseases that you could help by editing the germline. This is a case of a new technology where there are significant potential benefits, but also significant ethical implications.”
A protest against sexual violence in Jakarta earlier this month.
Chemical castration will be a sentencing option for judge in Indonesia. President Joko Widodo has signed a decree authorizing this penalty for convicted child sex offenders. Those who have been released on parole must wear electronic monitoring devices.
The announcement follows outrage over the gang rape of a 14-year-old girl in Sumatra when she was on her way home from school. Mr Joko said that:
“The inclusion of such an amendment will provide space for the judge to decide severe punishments as a deterrent effect on perpetrators”.
“These crimes have undermined the development of children, and these crimes have disturbed our sense of peace, security and public order. So, we will handle it in an extraordinary way.”
Focusing specifically on the case of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, the researchers argue that extreme beliefs need not entail psychotic disorder. “… some people without psychotic mental illness feel so strongly about their beliefs that they take extreme actions.”, lead author Tahir Rahman said in an interview. “Our suggested term for criminally violent behavior when psychosis can be ruled out is ‘extreme overvalued belief.’”
The articles in the edition are the product of a Symposium on the Definition of Death held at The Catholic University of America in June 2014. That Symposium brought together scholars from a variety of disciplines— law, medicine, biology, philosophy, and theology—who all share a commitment to the dead-donor rule and to a biological definition of death, but who have differing opinions regarding the validity of neurological criteria for human death.
Significant figures in Catholic bioethics in the North America – including Maureen Condic, Melissa Moschella, Patrick Lee and E. Christian Brugger – offer their views on what sort of conditions signal the death of a patient.
Legalisation of physician-assisted suicide in four American states left out one thing: a name for what happens. The laws in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California specify only that what happens is not suicide. An English name for this phenomenon was a topic raised at the 2016 Conference World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies in Amsterdam earlier this month.
Members of the Alt-Suicide group, an American-based internet forum which includes some of the leading names in “choosing an early exit at the end of life”, considered 31 words and phrases in 2014. These included Cathartic Death, Deliberate Life Completion, Exiting, Rational Life Termination, Non Adscititious [sic] Death, Consensual Murder, and Rational and Loving Suicide. “Dying with Dignity” was the favourite in a small survey.
As a sign of growing interest in transhumanism, the Washington Post recently featured a symposium with several distinguished writers. It may indicate a growing interest in its aspirations, in an election year when a transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan, is seriously running for President.
At the moment, transhumanism is a ill-defined and fractured movement with many different strands, ranging from more-or-less mainstream to whacky. On the mainstream side, there is the National Intelligence Council’s 2012 long-term strategic analysis document which devotes a section to “human augmentation”. It envisages technology which will help the elderly to cope with disability and soldiers to perform superhuman feats of strength, agility and alertness. On the whacky side, there are visions of a new species of humanity and uploading consciousness to the internet.
Rapid innovation in the wake of the development of the CRISPR gene editing technology has not caught the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues napping. Armed with this tool, scientists will be eager to conduct many ethically contentious experiments with government funding -- and the Commission seems keen to facilitate this.
So, in the waning days of the Obama administration, the Commission has issued a report about decision-making in an age of bioethical change. The commission is merely an advisory body which reports to the White House and can be reconstituted or dissolved by the next President. However, its recommendations will no doubt influence policy, especially if Mrs Clinton wins in November.
A group of scientists in the US are continuing to conduct research on human-animal hybrid embryos, despite a moratorium on funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Pablo Ross, a reproductive biologist from the University of California, Davis, has been working with a research team to implant human induced pluripotent cells in pig embryos, with the hope of growing human organs in developing porcine fetuses.
Ross has availed himself of alternative funding sources in the wake of the NIH’s decision last September to withhold funding until further study was done into the ethics of chimera experimentation.
"We're not trying to make a chimera just because we want to see some kind of monstrous creature," Ross told NPR. "We're doing this for a biomedical purpose."