Tag: foreigners

Bioethics Blogs

Refugees, Narratives, or How To Do Bad Things with Words

By Anna Gotlib

ABSTRACT. This paper addresses and critiques the anti-refugee rhetoric and policies, as well as their uncritical uptake, which developed around the candidacy of Donald Trump. My intent is to examine some of this election’s cruelest, most violent, and most racist rhetoric, reserved for Syrian (and other) refugees, and to consider some possible responses to such speech in the future. To that end, I problematize the representations and treatment of refugees within the United States from three distinct groups: European Jewish refugees of the Second World War; the Eastern Bloc refugees of the mid- and late twentieth century; and the current Syrian, largely Muslim refugees. I begin by defining the concepts of homelessness and moral luck. Second, I examine the three varying histories of refugee policies in the context of these two notions. Finally, I conclude with a combination of despair and hope: First, I offer a few observations about the role of language in the recent presidential election; second, I propose alternatives to the resulting linguistic and political violence by extending Hilde Lindemann’s notion of “holding” into sociopolitical contexts.

“How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.”
― David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

I.  Introduction

The American election of 2016 was, in its vitriol, polarization, and outcome, unlike any in recent memory. This paper addresses and critiques the anti-refugee rhetoric and policies, as well as their uncritical uptake, which developed around the candidacy of Donald Trump. My intent is to examine and confront the fact that some of this election cycle’s cruelest, most violent, and most racist rhetoric was reserved for Syrian (and other) refugees, and to consider some possible responses to such speech in the future.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Inherent Problems with Commercial Surrogacy in India

The degree to which financial incentives can muddle ethical deliberation and practice is evident in the commercial surrogacy trade in Indian. For years, “rent-a-womb” services to foreigners has been “big business” indeed, generating nearly $1 billion annually. Would-be Western parents, many from the U.K. and Scandinavia, argue that commercial surrogacy arrangements are a win-win situation for everyone. They get the baby they’ve longed for and… // Read More »

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Surrogacy Booming in Australia Despite Legal Issues

February 13, 2017

(Australia Broadcasting Co.) – Fertility professionals and advocacy groups say surrogacy is experiencing a quiet boom in Australia after several Asian countries banned foreigners from paying women to carry babies for them. Dr Glenn Stirling, the medical director of Brisbane IVF clinic Life Fertility, says the number of patients they see has risen dramatically, and that new patients arrive almost daily.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Material as opposed to what? Three recent ethnographies of welfare, biological labor, and human dignity by Leo Coleman

Catherine Fennell. Last Project Standing: Civics and Sympathy in Post-Welfare Chicago. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Kalinda Vora. Life Support: Biocapital and the New History of Outsourced Labor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Gaymon Bennett. Technicians of Human Dignity: Bodies, Souls, and the Making of Human Dignity. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016

A new materialist studying housing projects, a feminist-Marxist postcolonialist, and a Foucauldian bioethicist—what do they have in common? This sounds like the start of a very bad academic joke. But a great deal of cultural anthropological research has in fact been motivated and disciplined—made readable as part of a common project—over the past fifteen or twenty years by such oddly overlapping interests in materiality or materialisms of diverse stripes, on the one hand, and reasoning about biology and the biological constitution of the human, on the other. Drawing on usefully heterogeneous philosophical and social-scientific currents, the discipline has turned to examine the physical effectiveness of things, networks, or infrastructures in shaping populations, and the medical and technical regulation of the biological life of these populations. World-spanning (and world-making) institutions and infrastructures have been opened to ethnographic investigation under the rubrics of technopolitics and biopower. This was no mere scholarly “turn” but was impelled by real forces that included an intense medical and institutional recrafting of humanity itself as a global biological reality (Rees 2014), and the disparate impact of novel machines, techniques, and infrastructures that worked to disaggregate governance, individualize the political subject and materially support new authority for corporate and private actors (e.g.,

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Destination Laos: the ever-changing surrogacy business changes again

The dreary design of the website and Facebook page of Find Surrogate Mother (aka surrogacy inc) makes depressing reading. The business describes itself as “a full service Surrogacy Agency in Manila, Philippines, helping to match Surrogate Mothers, Intended Parents, Egg Donors, Sperm Donors [which] provide[s] services for Heterosexual Couple, Gay Couple, Lesbian Couple, Single Woman, Single Man.”  

For desperately poor Filipino women, it must seem like a golden opportunity.

Unfortunately for them, the Filipino government is cracking down on what it describes as a “human trafficking syndicate”. It detained four women on New Year’s Day as they were about to leave Manila for Phnom Penh, there to be impregnated with the sperm of men from Australia, Germany, China and Nigeria. They were to be paid US$10,000.

Philippine Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the police had uncovered “a new modus operandi of a human trafficking syndicate that preys on our Filipino women who are enticed to bear children of strangers for a fee because of their poverty”.

Surrogacy for foreign clients is officially illegal in Cambodia, but surrogacy brokers are still active there, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The incident shows just how flexible the surrogacy industry is. Only months after surrogacy clinics for foreigners were closed in India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, they opened in Phnom Penh. According to the Herald, “The operators look for poor, lightly regulated countries that don’t have laws dealing directly with surrogacy, such as Cambodia.”

With the crackdown in Cambodia, the operators are simply shifting their business to Laos.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Philippine Police Arrest Surrogate Mothers-to-Be in Human Trafficking Crackdown

January 5, 2017

(The Sydney Morning Herald) – A “human trafficking syndicate” has been hiring Filipino women to travel to Cambodia to carry surrogacy babies for foreigners, including Australians, Philippine authorities say. Four women were detained at Manila’s international airport on New Year’s Day while about to depart for Phnom Penh, indicating that surrogacy clinics are still operating in the city despite a crackdown on commercial surrogacy there.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Global health porn: the case of Extreme Doctors

The last few years have seen a growing interest in the ethics of short-term medical missions in the developing world. Global health initiatives and programs in many universities often involve such missions, where medical students or faculty travel to a faraway lands (relatively resource-constrained, with high disease prevalence and fragile health infrastructure) and provide certain medical services, for awhile. These missions certainly enhance the prestige and attractiveness of Western medical institutions and schools of public health, and can improve the CV’s of those who participate in them. But those working in the field know such missions, particularly when embedded in longstanding partnerships, can also do some good. They also know that such missions can raise a number of serious ethical challenges that need to be addressed in advance, carefully thought through and continuously managed.

These ethical challenges include: students or doctors practicing beyond their competence; inadequate follow-up care for interventions that are provided, particularly for chronic conditions; disruption of local health systems and patient expectations; lack of correspondence between services provided and local health priorities; cultural clashes between Western views of medical need and local conceptions of health and disease. And so on. Further, since medical care is being dispensed by wealthy individuals and organizations to patients and communities that are relatively poor, questions about exploitation are never far away: who really benefits, or benefits the most, from these ‘exchanges’? How can such missions, however well-intentioned, avoid taking unfair advantage of the vulnerable? Efforts have been spent on developing ethical guidance, and while there are best practices for short-term global health missions out there, all this is clearly a work in progress.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Cambodia bans commercial surrogacy

Cambodia has become the latest South East Asian nation to ban commercial surrogacy, with the country’s government issuing a proclamation late last month outlawing the practice.

The Cambodian health ministry distributed a letter this week to about 50 surrogacy providers and brokers operating in Phnom Penh, informing them of the new ban and asking all medical professionals to comply with the injunction.

“Surrogacy, one of a set of services to have a baby by assisted reproductive technology, is completely banned,” the letter said.

The ministry said commercial sperm donation is also banned and clinics and specialist doctors providing in-vitro fertilisation services will require ministry permission to operate.

The government did not specify what, if any, penalties would be incurred for violating the ban.

Sam Everingham, global director of the consultancy Families Through Surrogacy, slammed the “abrupt” ban and said it would likely trigger panic among expectant parents and surrogates now facing an uncertain future.

“This sudden change does no favours to surrogates or children given the lack of information and lack of clarity,” he told AFP.

The Cambodian ban will likely increase surrogacy costs globally, driving foreigners to countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Greece, Canada and the US which have protective laws in place.

However surrogacy costs in the US can be as high as $200,000 while agencies charge far less in developing countries like Cambodia.

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Opposition Stirring to Kuwaiti Law Mandating DNA Tests for All Residents

September 30, 2016

(STAT News) – A Kuwaiti law requiring all residents to submit to genetic testing has sparked international outcry — and there are signs it’s also drawing a muted civil opposition from locals fearful of its scope.  The controversial law, passed in July 2015, mandates that the country’s 1.2 million citizens and another 2.3 million foreigners living in Kuwait submit DNA samples to a new government database. Legislators defend the mandate as a security measure to help the government keep track of criminals and terrorists. Geneticists and human rights groups outside the country call it a gross invasion of privacy.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Special Issue! Nonsecular Medical Anthropology by Anna Zogas

Ian Whitmarsh and Elizabeth F. S. Roberts have edited a Special Issue of Medical Anthropology called “Nonsecular Medical Anthropology.”  Here is an excerpt from their introduction to the issue, along with the abstracts of its commentary and six articles.  Enjoy!

Nonsecular Medical Anthropology (open access)
Ian Whitmarsh & Elizabeth F. S. Roberts

A nonsecular medical anthropology insists on the ways medicine and science have constituted ‘the secular’ itself through the ‘secular self’—how medical knowing has been used to craft the secular political subject. As James Boon noted, too often in social theory, “religion gets safely tucked away—restricted theoretically to ‘meaning’ rather than power” (1998:245). The authors of the six articles in this special issue ‘untuck’ religiosity from within the norms and numbers of medicine itself, and examine how ‘secular’ medicine has relied on religious traditions to produce political secularity. These articles demonstrate that ‘secular’ medicine relies on religious others whose exclusion bespeaks latent religious commitments of citizenship in the modern political realm of health.

In the past few decades, anthropologists of religion and secularity have provided a vigorous critique of the liberal political subject constituted through the distinction between the secular and the religious (Asad 2003; Mahmood 2005). Meanwhile medical anthropologists have developed tools to examine how medicine constitutes the human. With this special issue, we draw together insights from both these literatures to query the relationship between the secular and health, medicine, and the body.

Gods, Germs, and Petri Dishes: Toward a Nonsecular Medical Anthropology (open access)
Elizabeth F. S. Roberts

This commentary calls on medical anthropology to become programmatically non-secular.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.