April 17, 2014
The Rise of ‘Social’ Surrogacy: The Women Choosing Not to Carry Their Own Babies for Fear of Hurting Their Careers or Ruining Their Bodies
(Daily Mail) – It used to be that surrogacy was considered an option exclusively for infertile couples, but it appears more and more women are doing it for less medically urgent reasons. According to Elle Magazine, ‘social surrogacy’ is on the rise, with mothers choosing not to carry their baby themselves in order not to upset their work life or ‘ruin’ their bodies. ‘I call these cases designer surrogacy,’ said San Diego-based fertility doctor Lorni Arnold, whose patients have included a socialite ‘who didn’t want to get fat’ and a runner about to do a marathon.
Fertility Mystery Solved: Protein Discovered that Joins Sperm with Eggs
(The Guardian) – A fundamental key to fertility has been uncovered by British scientists with the discovery of an elusive protein that allows eggs and sperm to join together. The molecule – named Juno after the Roman goddess of fertility – sits on the egg surface and binds with a male partner on a fertilising sperm cell. Japanese researchers identified the sperm protein in 2005, sparking a decade-long hunt for its “mate”.
US Judge Overturns 6-Week Abortion Ban
(Associated Press) – A federal judge on Wednesday overturned a North Dakota law that bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland said the law is “invalid and unconstitutional” and that it “cannot withstand a constitutional challenge.” The state attorney general said he was looking at whether to appeal the decision by the Bismarck-based judge.
WHO Issues New Guidelines to Ensure Contraception as a Human Right
(JAMA, by subscription) – The World Health Organization (WHO) released a set of guidelines on how countries can provide better information on contraception and easier access to services in ways that ensure the respect and protection of women’s human rights. The WHO estimates that 222 million girls and women who do not want to get pregnant are not using any method of contraception. The girls and women who are most in need of modern contraception include adolescents, those living in poor or rural areas, individuals living with HIV, and internally displaced people. The need is of particular concern where women are at high risk of maternal mortality.
April 16, 2014
China Bans Genetic Testing
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – For nearly a half-century, interrupted only by the Cultural Revolution, China promoted the growth of genetic testing to prevent and address birth defects through state-run hospitals, as well as charities and increasingly in recent years, private enterprises. Then in February, China reversed course. The China Food and Drug Administration posted a new regulation that immediately banned genetic testing—even previously approved services “including prenatal genetic testing, gene sequencing technology-related products, and cutting-edge products and technologies.”
April 15, 2014
Sperm RNA Carries Marks of Trauma
(Nature) – Trauma is insidious. It not only increases a person’s risk for psychiatric disorders, but can also spill over into the next generation. People who were traumatized during the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia tended to have children with depression and anxiety, for example, and children of Australian veterans of the Vietnam War have higher rates of suicide than the general population.
Pregnant Women Who Took Antidepressants Linked to Higher Autism Risk in Boys
(UPI) – Boys, whose mothers took antidepressants such as Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft while pregnant, were almost three times more likely to have autism spectrum disorder. Rebecca A. Harrington and Li-Ching Lee of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Rosa M. Crum of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Dr. Andrew W. Zimmerman of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Irva Hertz-Picciotto of the University of California, Davis, said the study involved a total of 966 mother-child pairs.
Consumers Considering Different Health Plans Find Little Info about Abortion Coverage
(Washington Post) – When it comes to coverage of abortion services in plans sold on the health insurance marketplaces, opponents and supporters of abortion rights are in agreement on one thing: Coverage details need to be clearer. A recent analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research and policy organization that supports abortion rights, found that people in some states would be hard-pressed to find any information about whether the plans they were interested in covered abortion services.
Fertility Tourism: Couples Desperate for a Baby Heading Overseas
(The New Zealand Herald) – As a result of the 2002 law, lower costs, increasing medical infrastructure and the availability of surrogates, the country has emerged as a hotspot for this type of fertility tourism. International surrogacy, also legal in the United States, Thailand, the Ukraine and at least one state in Mexico, is a growing trend for couples and singles, both gay and straight, seeking ways to overcome the hurdles biological, technological, financial, and legal of having children.
April 14, 2014
IVF Patient Pregnant with Another Couple’s Twins in Embryo Mix-Up
(News.com.au) – A WOMAN who underwent fertility treatment at a clinic in Rome became pregnant with the twins of another couple after their embryos were mixed up. Italy’s health ministry says it’s launching an investigation into the error, which was only discovered when the woman was three-months-pregnant.
Payment Bid to Boost IVF Cycle
(Sydney Morning Herald) – Women who donate their eggs so others can have children would be paid for their trouble, under changes to the IVF code of ethics being considered by Australia’s chief medical advisory and research authority. As part of its review of the ethical guidelines for the practice of assisted reproductive technology in Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council has sought public comment on whether women should be ”compensated for the reproductive effort and risks associated with donating their eggs”.
April 11, 2014
A New Edition of Developing World Bioethics is Available
Developing World Bioethics (Volume 14, No. 1, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Bioethics and Forensic Psychiatry” by Debora Diniz
- “Impact of Three Years Training on Operations Capacities of Research Ethics Committees in Nigeria” by Morenike Oluwatoyin Folayan, et al.
- “On Abortion: Exploring Psychological Meaning and Attitudes in a Sample of Mexican Gynecologists” by Ma. Luisa Marván, Asunción Álvarez del Río and Zaira Campos
- “Ethical Issues in Field Trials of Genetically Modified Disease-Resistant Mosquitoes” by David B. Resnik
- “The Ethics of Engaged Presence: A Framework for Health Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Development Work” by Matthew R. Hunt, et al.
A New Edition of Journal of Medical Ethics is Available
Journal of Medical Ethics (Volume 40, No. 4, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Freedom and moral enhancement” by Michael J Selgelid
- “The duty to be Well-informed: The case of depression” by Charlotte Blease
- “Approaches to suffering at the end of life: the use of sedation in the USA and Netherlands” by Judith AC Rietjens, et al.
- “Moral concerns with sedation at the end of life” by Charles Douglas
- “Genetic modifications for personal enhancement: a defence” by Timothy F Murphy
- “Voluntary moral enhancement and the survival-at-any-cost bias” by Vojin Rakić
- “Embryonic viability, parental care and the pro-life thesis: a defence of Bovens” by Jonathan Surovell
- “Differentiating between human and non-human interspecies embryos” by Calum MacKellar
European Union Debates Initiative on Embryo Protection
(New York Times) – A packed hearing on a petition calling for the protection of human embryos led to a rare outbreak of raucous exchanges in the European Parliament on Thursday — a sign that the battles over abortion and stem cell research that divide nations like Spain and the United States are making a serious incursion into European Union affairs.
April 10, 2014
Italian Court Overturns Divisive Ban on Donor Eggs, Sperm
(Reuters) – Italy’s constitutional court overturned a ban on using donor sperm and eggs in fertility treatments on Wednesday, knocking down part of a divisive set of restrictions on assisted reproduction. The court said in a statement the ban breached the constitution, without going into further detail, and lawyers in the case said the ruling was effective immediately.
April 9, 2014
Pro-Life Citizen’s Initiative Worries E.U. Scientists
(Science) – A group of European pro-life organizations is mobilizing against embryonic stem cell research in a way that the European Commission cannot ignore. One of Us, a so-called European citizens’ initiative, has collected 1.7 million signatures from all 28 E.U. member states for a proposal that would block funding for research in which embryos are destroyed; under E.U. rules, the European Commission must now consider turning the proposal into legislation.
April 8, 2014
Surrogacy Mishaps Shift Medical Tourism Focus Toward Education
(Medical Tourism Magazine) – The Bay Area Reporter said Planet Hospital closed its surrogacy services in December 2013. Following the sudden halt to services, an estimated 30 sets of intended parents are out of money and scrambling to secure a place in the “mothering by proxy” process and move forward with planning their families, Catherine Moscarello, former director of client services for Planet Hospital’s services in Cancun, Mexico, told The Reporter.
April 7, 2014
Genetic Testing to Predict Menopause
(The Sydney Morning Herald) – A genetic test to predict the start of menopause is likely to be available within five years, allowing women to make more informed decisions about their health and fertility, a leading expert says. Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecology at University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, Bart Fauser, said given menopause could begin at very different ages, including before 40 years for about one in 100 women, a test to more precisely predict the timing would be extremely useful, especially for women wanting children.
Minister Orders Investigation into Abortion of Girls
(The Telegraph) – A new survey of birth ratios in Britain has been ordered by the Government, amid fears that sex-selective abortions are taking place in Britain. Earl Howe, a health minister, said the Government wants to “monitor the situation” and “remain vigilant” following evidence that some doctors in the UK are carrying out selective abortions.
Surrogate Parenthood for Money Is a Form of Human Trafficking
(Forbes) – Currently, New York State, Louisiana, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia are considering legislation that would legalize commercial surrogacy. Last week, the New York Times featured a video segment on Baby M which asks the question: Have we solved the question of surrogacy? A look into these current legislative battles and the patchwork of varied state legislation on surrogacy around the country makes it clear that we have not.
April 3, 2014
Surrogacy Birth Bill Passed by Louisiana House: Snapshot
(The Times-Picayune) – At-a-Glance: The Louisiana House of Representatives passed a bill 79-14 to establish enforceable, legal surrogacy birth contracts between married couples and the women who carry their children in Louisiana. The bill: Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, has sponsored the legislation which puts regulations in place for a couple and woman who enter into a surrogacy birth relationship. Surrogacy allows a couple to have a child that is biologically their own, but carried to term by a third party.