Tag: parents

Bioethics Blogs

Whose Body, Whose Property, What Choice?

“I would not have done this if it weren’t for the money.”

The words of Aasia Khan, an Indian woman acting as a surrogate for an American couple in the documentary Made in India, echoed through the sound system at The New School’s panel entitled “Whose Body, What Choice: Egg Provision, Gestational Surrogacy, and Extending Parenthood”. In addition to viewing clips from Vaishali Sinha and Rebecca Haimowitz’s award-winning documentary, panelists spanning health psychology, queer studies, law, media studies, and life science came together to discuss how emerging reproductive technologies support new forms of family making, invoke bodies in labor and care, and provide bioresources for a burgeoning stem cell industry.

Psychologist Lisa Rubin, queer studies scholar Laura Mamo, and filmmaker Vaishali Sinha described the ways that Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) has become a common practice in Western countries, yet increasingly more dependent on bodies abroad. As more individuals view ART as a “natural” part of their personal reproductive journey, many assume that the techniques involved in ovarian hyperstimulation, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and surrogacy are FDA-approved and safe. But few are aware of the necessary labor involved and the potential inequities that can arise with increased use of ART.

As a result of shifting legislation, there is both limited access to and varied payment for bodies, cells, and tissues used in the reproductive and stem cell contexts, with little regard to the labor and potential health outcomes of all involved. As one attendee commented, she was unaware of the details involved in the egg retrieval surgical procedure which requires puncturing hyperstimulated ovaries—a separate puncture for each egg removed.  Additionally, the ripple effects of the stress of living with economic constraints can influence the health of the egg provider or surrogate, and the health of the potential child through DNA reprogramming events.

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

LabTV: Curious about Computer Modeling of Proteins

In many ways, Josh Carter is a typical college student, with a hectic schedule packed with classes and social activities. But when he enters a structural biology lab at Montana State University in Bozeman, Carter encounters an even faster paced world in which molecular interactions can be measured in femtoseconds—that is, 1 millionth of 1 billionth of 1 second.

Working under the expert eye of principal investigator Blake Wiedenheft, Carter is applying his computational skills to X-ray crystallography data to model the structures of various proteins, as well as to chart their evolution over time and map their highly dynamic interactions with other proteins and molecules. This basic science work is part of this NIH-funded lab’s larger mission to understand how bacteria defend themselves from the viruses that try to infect them. It’s a fascinating area of science with a wide range of potential applications, from treating diseases that arise from imbalances in the microbiome (the communities of microbes that live in and on our bodies) to developing new methods for gene editing and programmable control of gene expression.

Carter grew up in northeast South Dakota, where exploring the great outdoors made him curious about biology and life in general. His parents—a farmer and a journalist—nurtured this inquisitiveness and encouraged him to read books on science, math, and engineering. After heading off to Montana for college, Carter chose dual majors in mechanical engineering and microbiology.

Now a senior, Carter is a recipient of one of the university’s competitive undergraduate research internships, which has given him a head start on a career in science.

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

Surrogate Mom Melissa Cook Still Hasn’t Been Allowed to See Triplets She Gave Birth to in February

March 17, 2016

(People) – On Feb. 22, Cook gave birth to three baby boys and watched helplessly as hospital nurses whisked the infants away from her. She now believes the father, a deaf, single 50-year-old postal worker who lives with his elderly parents in Georgia, is unable to care for the infants. She has filed lawsuits asking to have the state’s surrogacy law declared unconstitutional and grant her custody of one of the children – although she’s prepared to care for all of them.

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

Zika, Ableism, and Reproductive Healthcare

Celeste Orr critiques the ableism underpinning arguments for women’s access to contraception and abortion in response to the Zika virus.

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Last week the World Health Organization issued a statement on the Zika virus that commented on the observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations. Infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy can lead to Zika infection in the developing fetus. In turn, this infection in the fetus can result in miscarriage or stillbirth, which can be traumatizing for women and parents. Zika infection during pregnancy also appears to be associated with a number of fetal abnormalities including microcephaly. Children born with microcephaly may have seizures, problems with balance, and serious developmental disabilities. In addition to these disabilities, children with microcephaly have a reduced life expectancy. These children can and do thrive, however, if they have access to resources, such as speech therapy, physical therapy, and medication.

Some have responded to the spread of Zika by advocating for women’s access to contraception and abortion, thereby making Zika a reproductive rights issue. These advocates insist that women’s access to the reproductive healthcare they need and want is imperative for women’s safety and gender equity. As well, some legislators are rethinking strict anti-abortion laws, restricted access to abortion and contraception, and anti-choice, pro-natal statutes and stances. And Pope Francis, departing from Catholic teaching, recently condoned contraception for some women exposed to the virus. Nevertheless, Pope Francis maintains that abortion is an “absolute evil.”

Notably, the argument for women’s access to reproductive healthcare in the context of Zika is that women should have temporary access to contraception and abortion to avoid the birth of the babies with disabilities.

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

Brazil’s Mothers Left to Raise Microcephaly Babies Alone

March 11, 2016

(Reuters) – Single parents are common in Brazil where some studies show as many as 1 in 3 children from poor families grow up without their biological father, but doctors on the frontline of the Zika outbreak say they are concerned about how many mothers of babies with microcephaly are being abandoned. With the health service already under strain, abortion prohibited, and the virus hitting the poorest hardest, an absent father is yet another burden on mothers already struggling to cope with raising a child that might never walk or talk.

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

Toddler Death in Canada: What do we owe children?

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

In 2012 Alberta, Canada, 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan died after allegedly being given supplements with an eye-dropper from the family’s own nutritional supplement company. His parents David (32) and Collet (35) Stephan called for an ambulance after Ezekiel stopped breathing. The parents allegedly gave their son a variety of remedies include maple syrup, juice, and an apple cider vinegar concoction. The child was airlifted to a hospital and after five days he was removed from life sustaining treatment.…

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

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: “What justifies parents’ influence on their children?” written by Yutang Jin

This essay was a finalist in the Graduate Category of the 2nd Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics

Written by University of Oxford Student, Yutang Jin

In a family, parents can exert enormous influence on their children. Parents tend to implant in their children’s mind, for good or ill, values and ideas which go on to guide their whole lives. This essay focuses on this relationship and discusses what justification we can have for parental influence over their children.

The dominant discourse in addressing the parent-child relationship is that of moral rights. I argue, however, that the liberal discourse of rights, sound as it may be, has lots of drawbacks that disqualify it from being a cogent account of family relationships. I then go on to craft a Confucian framework whereby to discuss how parents and children should behave to each other. My main argument is that parents’ influence is justifiable insofar as parents comply with moral rules that regulate their relationship with children, and these rules are subject to public justification and rectification.

I.
One way to think of where parents’ discretion over their children ends is to be found in the liberal tradition of rights. According to natural rights theories, children are entitled to basic human rights as any others. This account, however, suffers two drawbacks. First, childrearing prima facie demands more of parents than providing basic needs as prescribed by general human rights. The second problem is what I call a ‘redistribution dilemma’, namely that it fails to convincingly account for why a child should not, upon their birth, be redistributed by the state to suitable stepparents in a way that makes her future life better off than if she stays with her biological 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 and Fetal Tissue Hearing

BY G KEVIN DONOVAN, MD, MA

On March 2, 2016, Dr. G Kevin Donovan testified at the “Bioethics and Fetal Tissue” hearing before the Select Investigative Panel of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the US House of Representatives. Dr. Donovan was one of six witnesses to present testimony.

Chairman Blackburn, and members of the panel, I thank you for the opportunity to present testimony regarding the bioethical considerations in the harvesting, transfer, and use of fetal tissues and organs.

I am a physician trained in both pediatrics and clinical bioethics. I have spent my entire professional career caring for infants and children. It was this interest and concern that led me to further study in bioethics, because I have always been concerned about the most vulnerable patients, those who need others to speak up for them, both at the beginning and at the end-of-life. I also have significant familiarity with research ethics, having spent 17 years as the chair of the IRB, a board that monitors the rightness and the wrongness of medical research in order to protect human subjects. We took this aspect of our duties so seriously that I renamed our IRB the Institutional Research Ethics Board. Four years ago, I was called by my mentor, Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, to take his place as director of the Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University. Our duties include ethics education for medical students and resident physicians, ethics consultation for patients and doctors at the hospital, as well as the promulgation of scholarly papers and public speaking.

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 ethical duty to know: Facilitated communication for autism as a tragic case example

By Scott O. Lilienfeld, Ph.D.

Scott O. Lilienfeld is a Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology at Emory University. He received his A.B. from Cornell University in 1982 and his Ph.D. in Psychology (Clinical) from the University of Minnesota in 1990. His interests include the etiology and assessment of personality disorders, conceptual issues in psychiatric classification, scientific thinking and evidence-based practice in psychology, and most recently, the implications of neuroscience for the broader field of psychology. Along with Sally Satel, he is co-author of Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience (2013, Basic Books).
I’m a clinical psychologist by training, although I no longer conduct psychotherapy. In the course of my graduate work at the University of Minnesota during the 1980s, I – like virtually all therapists in training – learned all about the ethical mandates of clinical practice. By now, all mental health professionals can practically recite them by heart: don’t sleep with your clients, avoid dual relationships, don’t show up drunk to work, don’t violate client confidentiality, always report child abuse and elder abuse to appropriate authorities, and so on. To be sure, all of these ethical requirements are exceedingly important.

Yet, with few exceptions, clinical psychology and the allied fields of mental health practice, such as psychiatry, social work, mental health counseling, and psychiatric nursing, have largely neglected another crucial set of ethical requirements, namely, what University of Nevada at Reno clinical psychologists William O’Donohue and Deborah Henderson term epistemic duties – responsibilities to seek out and possess accurate knowledge about the world. As these authors pointed out in a 1999 article, all mental health professionals should be “knowledge experts.” That is, they should be specialists who keep up with the best available research literature on the efficacy of psychological interventions and the validity of assessment procedures, and who continually draw on this information to provide the best possible client care.

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

Mumbai’s First Test-Tube Baby Is Now a Mom

March 8, 2016

(Times of India) – Thirty years after she made history, Mumbai’s first test-tube baby Harsha Chavda-Shah delivered a child of her own – a boy – on Monday. The baby was delivered using Cesarean-section by the same team of doctors who had helped Harsha’s parents conceive her using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques in August 1986.

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.