Tag: incest

Bioethics Blogs

The non-identity problem of professional philosophers

By Charles Foster

Philosophers have a non-identity problem. It is that they are not identified as relevant by the courts. This, in an age where funding and preferment are often linked to engagement with the non-academic world, is a worry.

This irrelevance was brutally demonstrated in an English Court of Appeal case,  (‘the CICA case’) the facts of which were a tragic illustration of the non-identity problem.

M (‘the mother’) was raped repeatedly by her father. She gave birth to Y, who, because of the incest, suffered from a serious genetic disorder. Y claimed compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. She was not entitled to compensation, said the Court of Appeal.

Why?

The President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir Brian Leveson said:

I would construe the 2008 Scheme to mean that the victim of the crime of violence in this case could only be M (with the result that she was entitled to receive compensation for the personal consequences to her of her father’s actions). To suggest that Y, who had not been conceived at the time of the crime, was himself a victim of crime (the nature of the crime involved being difficult to discern) or that it is possible to assess compensation on the postulate that Y would otherwise have been born without disability and so should be compensated for the genetic disorder from which he suffers is to go beyond that which the Scheme was seeking to cover.’1

He cited with approval2 the following passage from a Scottish case (Millar (Curator Bonis to AP) v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board)3, which was concerned with materially identical facts:

‘It appears to me that the concept of injury, in the context of a situation in which compensation for it must be assessed, presupposes a pre-injury state which is capable of assessment and comparison with the post-injury state.

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

Silence = Death

May 18, 2017

by Sean Philpott-Jones, Chair, Bioethics Program of Clarkson University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Silence = Death

As Donald Trump fights for his political life following new revelations about wholly inappropriate disclosure of classified materials and potential obstruction of justice, he has quietly issued new orders that will condemn thousands of women and children around the world to death.

Largely overlooked given the media frenzy about the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the US Presidential election was an announcement that the TrumpAdministration will vastly expand the scope of the “Global Gag Rule”, the international anti-abortion policy first enacted by Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Also known as the Mexico City Policy, the rule prohibits organizations that receive family planning money from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from providing or promoting abortion. This is true even if they do so with private money. In fact, if they take so much as a single dollar from the US, they can’t even mention the word ‘abortion’ regardless of whether or not these organizations actually provide such services.

Every time a Democrat is in the White House, the global gag rule is rescinded. Every time a Republican enters the Oval Office, it is reinstated. President Trump himself did so just three days after assuming office. Until now, family planning organizations around the world have largely learned to deal with this ebb-and-flow. That is all about to change.

On Monday, Trump announced a new policy called Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance. That policy expands the scope of the Global Gag Rule.

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

Is ‘financial abortion’ an idea whose time has come?

If women have a right to get right of a baby, why shouldn’t men? This radical idea has been kicking around for about 20 years, but seems to becoming more popular. In 1998 Brown University sociologist Frances K. Goldscheider floated the idea of a “financial abortion” in order to achieve true gender equality.

Earlier this year the youth wing of the Liberal Party in Sweden adopted the idea. Up until 18 weeks of pregnancy, it argued, men should have the right to relinquish all rights and responsibilities for their partner’s child. Unsurprisingly, the proposal went to the same place as the Young Liberals’ proposals for legalizing necrophilia and consensual incest — nowhere at all — as it sounded absurdly sexist and anti-feminist.

But dyed-in-the-wool Australian feminist, comedian and author Catherine Deveney has revived the idea. The litmus test is simple:

Is it fair for people to be forced to become parents against their wishes? If it’s not fair for a woman to be forced to bear a child or have an abortion, it follows it’s not fair for a man to be forced to become a parent.

The idea becomes slightly more plausible in the light of the slogan “every child a wanted child”. What if a man does not want a child? How can you force him to love his wee sprog?

“I believe every baby should be wanted, and every parent should be willing,” writes Deveney. “When we consent to having sex, we do not automatically consent to becoming a parent. If, when a cis male and cis female have vaginal sex, their contraception fails, it doesn’t mean both people have to become parents.

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

Bioethics.net: The Presidential Election Edition

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Every four years the United States chooses a new chief executive. Although encoded in the Constitution, the idea that a person with such power would willingly surrender it and walk away to allow another to lead is remarkable. It was even more remarkable in 1797 when George Washington began this tradition of a peaceful transition of power, an action that was nearly unthinkable in a world ruled by monarchs. As the character of King George says in the musical Hamilton, “I wasn’t aware that was something a person can do.” Of course that tradition may be ending as Republican candidate Donald Trump stated that he reserves the right not to honor the election results.

Many states are in the middle of early voting and all states (except Oregon in which everyone mails in a ballot) are nearing Election Day on November 8. Thus, I thought that it was appropriate to view both of the major party candidates’ positions on health issues. Specifically, I will look at the candidate’s positions on abortion, the Affordable Care Act, Family Life Issues, Supreme Court nominations and the curious case of medical diagnosis from afar.

Abortion

The candidate’s offer different perspectives on the issue of abortion, a contrast made clear in the third Presidential debate. Clinton has repeatedly stated that abortion is a woman’s decision and not one that the state should be making for her. She supports the work of Planned Parenthood, opposes any restrictions to abortion access, and supports repealing the Hyde Amendment (banning any federal dollars to be used for abortion).

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

Poland Starts Work on Total Abortion Ban Amid Cultural Clash

September 23, 2016

(Bloomberg) – Religious groups loosely supported by the ruling Law & Justice party have proposed the bill to tighten what’s already one of the European Union’s most-restrictive regulations. While the current law limits abortions to pregnancies stemming from rape or incest, and cases where the mother or fetus faces serious health risk, they want a total ban that would put the Roman Catholic country of 38 million in a group of eight states that includes El Salvador, Guatemala and the Vatican.

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

Welcome to Cleveland. Please Set Your Watch Back 100 Years. July 14, 2016 The Republican Nat…

July 14, 2016

As anyone who listens to my commentaries or reads some of my opinion pieces likely suspects, I tend to fall on the liberal side of the political spectrum. That said, next week I will definitely be watching the political three-ring circus that is the Republican National Convention.

This election cycle has been one for the history books, with the Grand Old Party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan bucking tradition and defying expectations by selecting opinionated billionaire Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee. More importantly, the 112 members of the Republican National Committee Platform Committee have drafted a staunchly conservative political platform that outlines their vision for America. This platform will now be presented to the delegates of the Republican National Convention for approval on Monday.

That the platform itself is politically conservative should come as no surprise, particularly as the Republican Party has become increasingly beholden to right-wing ideologues and organizations like the Tea Party, the Family Research Council, and the National Rifle Association. I expect the Democratic Party Platform to be equally progressive, particularly as the Clinton campaign struggles to recruit the disaffected supporters of Bernie Sanders.

What’s surprising about the GOP’s 2016 platform is this: it is an ultra-reactionary platform that runs counter to a century of progress in civil rights, ignores some of the basic premises of our Nation’s founding and previous Republican philosophies, and outwardly ignores conclusive data on public health and climate change.

Consider, for example, the numerous and tone-deaf provisions that target the LGBT community. Coming exactly one month after a single gunman killed 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, and despite claims by the Platform Committee that it didn’t not want to engage in “identity politics”, social conservatives who were still bristling over Supreme Court rulings like United States v.

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

Ireland Abortion Ban Violated Woman’s Human Rights, U.N. Panel Says

By Genevieve Lewis

In early June, the United Nations called on Ireland to amend its constitution in order to change the current laws regarding abortion, which were deemed a violation of human rights. The UN faces a deeply political struggle to change Ireland’s strict abortion laws because of the country’s Catholic roots. The United Nations called Ireland’s laws “cruel,” “inhumane,” and “degrading” to the women who suffer because of them.

Moreover, the UN is pushing for the compensation of Amanda Mellet, a 42 year-old who was forced to travel out of the country in 2011 in order to terminate her non-viable pregnancy, because she experienced immense emotional and psychological distress. Doctors induced a 36 hour labor period in which Ms. Mellet gave birth to a stillborn baby girl, and was forced, due to financial reasons, to return to Ireland only 12 hours after the procedure. To make matters worse, three weeks later, the fetus’s ashes were unexpectedly delivered to Ms. Mellet, and afterwards she was denied state bereavement counseling under Irish law.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee reported, “she was subjected to a gender-based stereotype that women should continue their pregnancies regardless of the circumstances, their needs and wishes, because their primary role is to be mothers and self-sacrificing caregivers.”

In 2012, 31 year-old dentist Savita Halappanavar died from complications in miscarriage because her doctors refused to preform an emergency abortion, subsequently causing international outrage.

Currently, abortion in Ireland in only permitted if the pregnancy proves to be fatal to the pregnant mother. Pro-choice advocates and organizations are lobbying to broaden the exceptions to include rape, incest, inevitable miscarriage, and fatal fetal abnormality.

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

UN calls on Ireland to change abortion law

The United Nations Human Rights Committee says that Ireland’s abortion laws are a violation of human rights.

In a controversial judgement – the outcome of a case involving dual Irish-US citizen who had to travel to the UK to terminate her non-viable pregnancy – the Committee called on the government to allow women free access to abortion, labelling extant laws “cruel” and “inhumane”. The Committee also asked authorities to compensate the woman, 42-year-old Amanda Mellet, for the distress and trauma she experienced.

Ms. Mallet travelled to the UK for an abortion in late 2011. She told the Committee she experienced immense emotional and psychological distress as a result of having to go abroad for the procedure.

The Committee called on the government to reform the abortion law to protect women in the future:

“…the State party should amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant, including effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that health-care providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions”.

Amnesty International welcomed the ruling, and renewed their campaign for legislative reform.

“The Irish government must take its head out of the sand and see that it has to tackle this issue,” said Amnesty’s head of Ireland, Colm O’Gorman.

Yet some see the ruling as deeply political, and an attempt to bully the country into legislative change. Writing for The American Spectator, Daniel J.

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

The discernment of knowledge: sexualized violence in the Mennonite church by Stephanie Krehbiel

This case begins with an unsettling email. It came from a powerful man of the church, a Mennonite executive, and it was a response to an email from me, in which I told this leader that he was perpetuating violence against queer people.

I was an ethnographer writing about the Mennonite movement for queer justice, and I also was a Mennonite, at least by background. In the interviews I was doing with LGBTQ Mennonites around the country, I kept hearing the word violence: rhetorical violence, spiritual violence, institutional violence, systemic violence. The violence they spoke of was often quiet and subtle, invisible to many. It happened in the wording of denominational statements, in all the ways in which LGBTQ identities were cast as worldly distractions from more important church work; it happened in families, inherited patterns of sexual shame that thrived on the specter of a monstrous sexual outsider. It happened most particularly in the process of what Mennonites call “discernment.”

Mennonites have little in the way of doctrine. What they do have are committees, some of which are called “discernment groups.” Listening committees are a regular feature of Mennonite discernment, particularly in the realm of LGBTQ people, who in the course of the forty-year history of their organizing within Mennonite contexts have often been invited to “share their stories” in front of appointed listeners. I will return to discernment, but for the moment, I will say two things about it.

One, I don’t believe I know any LGBTQ Mennonites for whom the word “discernment” fails to produce groans, eyerolls, and other expressions of deep cynicism.

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

Recent Attempts to Restrict the Abortion Law in Poland: A Commentary

Guest post by Dr Atina Krajewska, University of Sheffield

A couple of weeks ago news hit the headlines about attempts to introduce a total ban on abortion in Poland.  The legislative proposal that caused outrange among women’s rights organisations has been drafted by a citizen’s initiative, “Stop Abortion”, and is the fourth attempt to restrict abortion access to have been given a parliamentary hearing in Poland in the last 5 years.  The proposal must be supported by 100 000 signatures before it can be voted in Parliament.  However, as this threshold has been easily met in the past, it is worth reflecting on its causes and possible legal and social consequences for Poland and Europe.

Current law

Poland is well known for its conservative approach towards reproductive rights.  The current Act on Family Planning, from 1993, extends the protection of the right to life to the prenatal phase of human life.  It allows doctors to perform lawful abortions in only three sets of circumstances: when a) the pregnancy constitutes a danger to the life or health of the mother; b) prenatal tests suggest a high risk of a serious and irreversible abnormality or a severe life-threatening illness of the foetus; c) there is a justified suspicion that the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act (rape or incest).  A lawful termination can take only place within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  The Act has been often criticised as one of the most restrictive in Europe.

Nevertheless, despite popular belief, it is not the current law that seems to lie at the root of the problem.

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.