Tag: twins

Bioethics Blogs

The ‘Weird’ First Fortnight of the Foetus: Implications for the Abortion Debate

Guest Post: William Simkulet
Paper: The Cursed Lamp: The Problem of Spontaneous Abortion

For many people, the moral status of abortion stands or falls whether or not a human fetus is morally comparable to you or I; whether its death is a significant loss.  Many people believe human fetuses have a right to life from conception, and thus conclude that there is good reason to think induced abortion is seriously morally wrong.  Judith Jarvis Thomson challenges this belief, constructing a scenario where she believes it is morally acceptable to end the life of a person because although he has a right to life, his right to life does not give him a right to use your body.  Her example should be familiar:

Violinist:  You wake up in the hospital, surgically attached to a violinist.  Your doctor explains that last night the Society of Music Lovers kidnapped the two of you and performed the surgery.  The violinist has a serious condition that will result in his death soon unless he remains attached to your kidneys for the next 9 months (you alone are biologically compatible).

The violinist has a right to life, and surely you are free to let him remain attached to your body to save his life.  It would be a great kindness for you to do so, but Thomson says that the violinist’s right to life does not give him the right to use your body.  Anti-abortion theories that focus on the moral status of the fetus neglect to show why the fetus’s moral status – its argued for right to life – would give it a right to use the woman’s body.

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

How Kids See the World Depends a Lot on Genetics

Caption: Child watches video while researchers track his eye movements.
Credit: Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis

From the time we are born, most of us humans closely watch the world around us, paying special attention to people’s faces and expressions. Now, for the first time, an NIH-funded team has shown that the ways in which children look at faces and many other things are strongly influenced by the genes they’ve inherited from their parents.

The findings come from experiments that tracked the eye movements of toddlers watching videos of other kids or adult caregivers. The experiments showed that identical twins—who share the same genes and the same home environment—spend almost precisely the same proportion of time looking at faces, even when watching different videos. And when identical twins watched the same video, they tended to look at the same thing at almost exactly the same time! In contrast, fraternal twins—who shared the same home environment, but, on average, shared just half of their genes—had patterns of eye movement that were far less similar.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that the visual behaviors most affected in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)—attention to another person’s eyes and mouth—were those that also appeared to be the most heavily influenced by genetics. The discovery makes an important connection between two well-known features of ASD: a strong hereditary component and poor eye contact with other people.

The new study was led by Warren Jones, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, and John Constantino, Washington University School of Medicine, St.

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

Insurers Battle Families Over Costly Drug for Fatal Disease

June 23, 2017

Be the first to like.
Share

Nolan and Jack Willis, twins from upstate New York, and just 10 other boys took part in a clinical trial that led to the approval last fall of the very first drug to treat their rare, deadly muscle disease.

Now the Willis boys are again test cases as a different type of medical question comes to the fore: whether insurers will cover the controversial drug, Exondys 51, which can cost more than $1 million a year even though it’s still unclear if it works.

The boys’ insurer, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, refused to cover the cost of the drug because the twins, who are 15, can no longer walk. Their disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, overwhelmingly affects boys and causes muscles to deteriorate, killing many of them by the end of their 20s.

“I’m cycling between rage and just sadness,” their mother, Alison Willis Hoke, said recently, on the day she learned that an appeal for coverage had been denied. For now, the company that sells the drug, Sarepta Therapeutics, is covering the treatment’s costs, but Mrs. Hoke does not know how long that will last.

… Read More

Image via Flickr AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Tracy O

Be the first to like.
Share

NYTimes

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

SHEEFs, Sentience, and the 14-Day Rule

March 31, 2017

by Professor Bonnie Steinbock 

Embryo research, made possible by IVF, raised the question of the moral status of human embryos. Are human embryos human subjects, who are entitled to stringent protections? Or are they clumps of cells that can be used in research, so long as the permission of their creators is obtained?

Various commissions (Ethics Advisory Board, 1979; Warnock Commission, 1984; National Institutes of Health, 1994) considered this issue, and all arrived at a similar conclusion. Embryos are neither persons nor mere tissue, but a very early form of human life and, as such, entitled to special respect. Specifically, they all agreed on the 14-day rule, which specifies that experiments with human embryos must not let them develop beyond 14 days.

Fourteen days is when the primitive streak (PS), the precursor of the spine and nervous system, appears. This is important because of the connection between the nervous system and sentience, the ability to experience pain or pleasure. Sentience is regarded as morally relevant because causing pain is, in general, wrong. Kicking a can down the road is perfectly permissible, but it would be very wrong to do the same to a sentient guinea pig. On a sentience criterion, nonsentient beings do not have the moral standing that sentient beings do, and research on nonsentient embryos is morally acceptable.

Some argue that what makes it wrong to kill an embryo has nothing to do with sentience. Rather, the embryo is the earliest stage of a unique human being. If it would be wrong to kill a developed human, it is equally wrong to kill that same human being in its earliest stages.

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 Semantics of Therapy, Part II

A previous blog post of “The Semantics of Therapy” posed three questions about the human genome being a “patient” to be treated. One reader found the post “provocative and disturbing” and called for further explanation and discussion of the questions posed. That will take some time and several postings.

The first of the questions to be considered is this: If the “patient” is a genome, to whom does the researcher answer?   An answer from recent history may shed some light on this important issue.

33 infertile couples underwent a novel procedure at New Jersey’s Saint Barnabas Medical Center during the years 1996-2001. Embryologist Jacques Cohen used cytoplasmic transfer–ooplasm from the oocytes of fertile women was transferred into the eggs of infertile women–in the hope of establishing pregnancies in the latter. The outcome was 13 pregnancies and 17 babies from the Saint Barnabas experience (see accounts here and here).

According to a 2014 BBC article, one resulting pregnancy, which ended in miscarriage, revealed a missing X chromosome in the fetus. The same anomaly was noted in another child: one of a set of twins from a different pregnancy. Later, one child showed evidence of developmental delay. In 2014, Cohen estimated that the worldwide experience of cytoplasmic transfer between oocytes had resulted in the births of 30-50 babies, although the FDA had effectively stopped the procedure in the U.S. in 2002.

What had the follow-up on the babies born through cytoplasmic transfer been in 2014?

Due to a lack of funding, Cohen says, it hasn’t been possible to find out about how any of the children like Alana who were born from cytoplasmic transfer are doing.

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

A Surrogate’s Plea to Keep Controversial Industry Alive as India Moves Toward Ban

March 13, 2017

(Australian Broadcasting Co) – Lakshmi Rajput does not see herself as exploited, but driving her willingness to bear someone else’s children is the desperate desire to save her own. “I need money because my son has a hole in his heart,” she says. The 24-year-old is bearing twins for a couple, from Kerala in India’s south. The pregnancy will earn her roughly $6,000. A doctor has told her that surgery to repair her two-year-old son Krishna’s heart will cost twice that much. Ms Rajput’s bind reflects the case for and against an industry thought to be worth about $3 billion a year.

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

Of Value Only if Desired

It’s becoming more and more apparent that conflicted cultural attitudes toward abortion arise from inconsistent—even contradictory—beliefs about the moral value and status of the pre-born human being. Consider two recent news items. The whole world knows by now that wildly popular performer Beyoncé is pregnant with twins. Her performance at the Grammy Awards was dedicated to “birth and motherhood.” She’s even composed a poem celebrating… // 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 Blogs

IVF, Multiples, and Risk: Buyer Beware

Janet Farrell Leontiou reflects on her experience as an IVF patient who was misled into choosing several multiple embryo transfers.

__________________________________________

A recent article in The Guardian summarizes new research showing that the chance of becoming pregnant following in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be reduced by as much as 27% when more than one embryo is transferred. The reduced pregnancy rate was observed when two embryos were transferred, but only one of these embryos was of good quality. When two embryos of good quality were transferred the pregnancy rate was the same as for single embryo transfer. These facts, which support single embryo transfer, are important given the risks associated with multiple births following multiple embryo transfer.

Several months prior to this article, I had read in a New York Times article on IVF and multiple births that “Consumers can easily be overwhelmed by the available data and be unable to distinguish between good medical practices and a sales pitch.” The statement was attributed to Dr. Mark Sauer, a fertility specialist. As an IVF patient, I was surprised to read this, but the next statement was like a punch to the stomach. The doctor continued: “We all consider twin pregnancy to be an undesirable outcome that can be completely avoided if doctors and patients agree that a single embryo transfer is the right thing to choose.”

I went to a major teaching hospital in New York City for fertility treatment. I assumed that I would be treated by accredited professionals in good standing, not by charlatans.

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

I Regret Having IVF

I Regret Having IVF

January 13, 2017

(New York Post) – According to the Cerebral Palsy Outreach Network, twins and other multiples are about four times more likely than single birth children to be affected by the disease, a neurological disorder that impairs muscle coordination. Here, Rye, NY, mom Janet Farrell Leontiou, 59, a professor of communications and author of the book “What Do the Doctors Say?,” tells The Post’s JANE RIDLEY why she believes in vitro fertilization (IVF) played a part in creating her son’s disability.

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

These Two Baby Boys Are Twins, But an Italian Court Says They Aren’t Brothers

January 9, 2017

(The Washington Post) – At first a judge ruled against them, but the couple appealed and a new court partially granted their request. Because the men used separate semen samples to fertilize the eggs, the court said that each of them can now register his biological son as his own. But the babies cannot be recognized as children of the couple, nor are they to be considered brothers, even though they share the same genetic mother, who donated both eggs.

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.