One hundred surrogate babies?


Critiques of surrogacy generally centre on the welfare of the baby or the welfare of the gestating mother. Very seldom do they interrogate the motivations of the commissioning parents. But there are some very odd cases. A couple of years ago, wealthy Japanese businessman Mitsutoki Shigeta secured custody of 13 children he had fathered with Thai surrogate mothers. Apparently he just wanted a big family.

From Georgia comes our lead story about another wealthy man and his wife, Galip and Christina Ozturk, who also want a big family. The number 105 has been mentioned. They already have 10, plus children from previous relationships. How do we think through this?

Michael Cook   
Editor 

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Canada runs ahead


Canada's euthanasia legislation requires a parliamentary review of the law's provisions, as well as the state of palliative care in Canada, starting at the beginning of the fifth year after becoming law. This review would allow for further public engagement and parliamentary scrutiny of all aspects of MAiD.

2021 being the fifth year, doesn’t it make sense to save major amendments to this immensely consequential legislation until after the review? Apparently not. The nation’s Parliament is on the verge of approving an expansion of law which will effectively make it the most permissive in the world. Read about it below. 

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A new vision for bioethics


I openly confess that I am not au fait with Michel Foucault and Kimberlé Crenshaw, but the latest bioethics weather report suggests that they are going to be the big names of bioethics in the next few years, until something new comes along. The latest issue of the American Journal of Bioethics is devoted to race and marginalisation in bioethics and Ye Olde Verities of Autonomy, Non-Maleficence, Beneficence and Justice are nowhere to be seen, at least in the target article.

I stand corrected – it’s all about Justice, but social justice, not justice for the individual. The headwaters of bioethics, in this new vision, are to be found in Justice, not in Autonomy. It’s going to be interesting to watch the change downstream. As the authors of the target article predict, “we must embrace an ethic of discomfort”.

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Belgian euthanasia is broken


A movement for the legalisation of euthanasia seems to be accelerating at the same time that countries with experience of it may be having buyer’s regret. At least, that seems to be the case in Belgium. A recent article in an academic journal makes the case that euthanasia there is broken, morally, administratively and legally. If this is the case, it is a huge human rights issue.

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“To feed the ambition in your heart is like carrying a tiger under your arm.”


He Jiankui, the Chinese biophysics researcher who announced in 2018 that he had created the world’s first gene-edited babies, was sentenced to three years in prison for “illegal medical practice” a year ago.

In China’s opaque justice system exemplary punishments are a hazard for celebrities. As the Chinese proverb has it, “To feed the ambition in your heart is like carrying a tiger under your arm.” No doubt He thought that he would be lauded for achieving a world first. Instead he disappeared for many months until it was announced that he had ended up in the clink.

Now 29-year-old Zheng Shuang, a popular actress and brand ambassador, must be asking herself whether she will end up behind bars as well. She engaged two surrogate mothers in the US to bear her children and then abandoned them. When the news broke, she was instantly “cancelled” and seems to have become an unperson.

What’s puzzling about this is that far, far worse crimes against women happen in Tibet and Xinjiang every day and the Chinese media is silent, or worse, praises them.  

Michael Cook 
Editor

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2021 begins


Hi there,

We’re back. If 2020 was unexpectedly weird and stressful, 2021 promises to be expectedly weird and stressful. Already we have had a terrible riot in the Capitol Building in Washington DC and the Covid-19 toll has passed two million worldwide. One thing is sure: there will be lots of news about bioethics.

Michael Cook
Editor    

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Triage debates


Hi there, 

Happy Christmas! Happy New Year! This will be the last issue of BioEdge for 2020. We'll see you in January. 

Michael Cook    
Editor 

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Embryo donation record


I’ve been watching The Mandalorian lately. It’s not my favourite Western and I am not a Star Wars fanboy, but I admit that it is entertaining.

The best character is Baby Yoda, an infant of an alien species with big ears, which, I am told, has no name. The interesting factoid, for the purposes of BioEdge, is that Baby Yoda, who appears to be about six months old and acts that way, is actually 50.

All this happens, of course, in a galaxy far, far away. Here on Planet Earth the closest being to Baby Yoda is a smiling infant named Molly Gibson, who came into existence 27 years ago and is only two months old. Read about her below.

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Is the Belgian consensus on euthanasia breaking up?


In northern latitudes the sound of spring begins with the booming of snow-covered ice cracking in frozen rivers. Is something like that happening in Belgium? 

The European Court of Human Rights is currently considering the case of a Belgian woman who was euthanised in 2012. Her son, Tom Mortier, claims not only that he was left out of the process, but that there were legal irregularities in the way that the euthanasia was carried out. Now it appears that this case may not have been an outlier. The Belgian media is reporting that the police are investigating ten similar cases. Stay tuned. 

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Dutch doctors cleared to euthanise dementia patients


Dutch doctors will be able to sedate demented patients and then euthanise them, if they have made advance directives, according to new official guidelines. This follows a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year which quashed the conviction of a retired nursing home doctor for murder. A very interesting development. See the article below. 

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