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Bioethics 101

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June 30, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 30

  • Bioethicist: Not just autistic at risk if sex screening approved (BP)
  • Senate to Consider Stem Cell Proposals (Washington Post)
  • Stem-cell therapies for blood diseases (Nature)
  • Hope, doubt greet new All Kids insurance (AP)
  • Biotech execs: No sharing of stem-cell research (Mercury News)
  • Stem cell legislation returning to Senate (Chicago Tribune)
  • Op-Ed: Ban on PGD for sex selection lauded (The Star)
  • Hawaii Biotech Plans West Nile Virus Tests (AP)

Quote of the Week

If unborn children are being eliminated for a genetic disposition to autism, no one is safe.

C. Ben Mitchell, associate professor of bioethics at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in suburban Chicago, Ill.

June 29, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 29

  • 20% of U.S. Transplant Centers Are Found to Be Substandard (LA Times)
  • Doctors change euthanasia stance (BBC)
  • Terminally ill call on the BMA to stand firm (TimesOnline)
  • Law creates cord blood bank initiative (NewsAdvance)
  • Health professional urges hospital rating system (OptusNet)
  • Op-Ed: A bioethical debate that needs careful consideration (The Age)
  • Body swapping (Belfast Telegraph Digital)
  • EMBRYO ADOPTION: Saving lives, building families (BP)

June 28, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 28

  • Judge rejects challenge to Blagojevich stem cell grants (AP)
  • Hwang to resume research (News24)
  • Is mom a criminal for not allowing surgery on her son? (The Seattle Times)
  • Bill to allow assisted suicide is rejected State Senate committee head casts key vote against measure (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Child treatment fund ‘going well’ (BBC)
  • Ban fresh embryo donations, researcher insists (The Windsor Star)
  • Finding a cellular Neverland: How stem cells stay childlike (
  • Charities Tied to Doctors Get Drug Industry Gifts (New York Times)
  • MRI tests offer glimpse at brains behind the lies (USA Today)

June 27, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 27

  • Patients said to offer stem-cell solution ‘we can all live with’ (Catholic News Service)
  • Malaysia: Govt won’t allow ‘designer babies’ (Daily News Express)
  • Stem cell project gets green light (Leader Post)
  • Report on drug revives discussion of care for ‘vegetative state’ patients (National Catholic Register)
  • Banking on Baby Teeth (Wired)
  • FDA issues fewer safety, quality citations (USA Today)
  • Prenatal Effect Hinted for Some Gay Men (AP)
  • Brain Damage Link to Memory Lapse (BBC)
  • Surgeon General Warns of Secondhand Smoke (AP)
  • How will technology shape our future? (CNN)

New Magazine

The first issue of Salvo is now available on newsstands and for subscription. Salvo is

dedicated to exposing and debunking the destructive cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded our appetite for transcendence.

The first issue is devoted to issues of science and has articles on genetics, cloning, transhumanism, and Huxley’s Brave New World. (Full disclosure, I was interviewed for the article on transhumanism). Order a copy or subscribe at

June 26, 2006

Organ Donation: Point — Counterpoint

Today’s edition of USA Today features a pair of Op-Eds on providing financial incentives for organ donation. USA Today’s editorial board takes the position “Organ donations fall short; financial incentives can help,” and chair of the National Kidney Foundation, Charles B. Fruit, counters “Organs aren’t commodities.”

Bioethics in the News — June 26

June 23, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 23

Cruel and ineffective?

Animal tests proved penicillin deadly, strychnine safe and aspirin dangerous. So why do we continue to continue to use, as Kelly Overton asks in an intriguing op-ed, a process for testing the effectiveness of medications for humans that is “akin to using smoke signals instead of e-mail as a method of communication”?

In fact, 90 percent of medications approved for human use after animal testing later proved ineffective or harmful to humans in clinical trials. It is humbling to realize that the flipping of a coin would have proved five times more accurate and much cheaper.

Overton contends that adult stem cell research is key to our status as the world’s leader in medical research. While such research is indeed vitally important, can it really replace animal testing for the development of human medications?

June 22, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 22

  • Why is it so hard to store your baby’s ‘life-saving’ stem cells? (Daily Mail)
  • Assisted-suicide plan resurfaces (Sacbee)
  • Are you a guinea pig? (The Ithaca Journal)
  • Abortion law ‘must change to reflect public disquiet’ (Times Online)
  • Bishops decry EU embryonic stem cell funding as instrumentalizing life (Catholic Online)
  • In the U.S., values trump the results (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  • A small step forward (Daily Press)
  • How IVF Could Be Causing Genetic Errors In Embryos (Medical News Today)
  • Medical data errors ‘risk lives’ (BBC)
  • Ultra-Cheap Drugs Worry Generic Makers (AP)

June 21, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 21

  • Santorum takes on thorny stem-cell research issue (The Hill)
  • Coalition sticks to ban on stem cell research (The Age)
  • Cord blood stem cell research could be answer to medical, moral questions (49abc)
  • Three million babies born after fertility treatment (Reuters)
  • Genetic fault link to vasectomies (BBC)
  • S.F. mayor urges health coverage for all uninsured Taxpayers would subsidize program to pay medical costs (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Disgraced cloning expert says ‘sorry’ (
  • German scientists uncover gene for learning disability (People’s Daily )
  • Genetic science applied to historic prints (MSNBC)
  • Pregnant Teens Get Care at Mobile Clinic (AP)
  • Stem-Cell Therapy Restores Movement in Paralyzed Mice (HealthDay)
  • Send in the clowns to boost IVF success (Reuters)
  • When medical reality doesn’t match the spin (MSNBC)
  • IVF could ‘ease population woes’ (BBC)
  • Scientist scolded for supporting Santorum (The Scientist)

June 20, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 20

  • Fight against genetic discrimination moves to national airwaves (The News Enterprise)
  • Should science be building better babies? (The Herald)
  • Op-Ed: The Trouble With Transhumanism (AlwaysOn)
  • Hwang Woo-suk Trial Gets Underway (Chosun)
  • A new step towards designer babies? (Birmingham Post)
  • Op-Ed: Stem Cells and the Family Physician (American Family Physician)
  • Fertility clinics fear ID fraud (BBC)
  • Tech Helps Curb Infant Blindness (Wired)
  • Counselling ‘restores fertility’ (BBC)
  • In Medicine, Acceptable Risk Is in the Eye of the Beholder (New York Times)
  • States Weigh Medicare Options After Ruling (AP)
  • Survey Finds Use of Herbs for Menopause Is Common (New York Times)

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

The issue of preimplantation genetic diagnosis has been getting a lot of attention recently (Reuters, The Sunday Times, AP, Slate, PBS, Washington Post).

In response, I’d like to draw your attention to several articles that address the topic:
<> Designer Genes: When Having a Child to Save a Child Causes Some Children to Die
<> Poor Prognosis for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)?
<> Sex and Desire: The Role of Parental Aspiration in Sex Selection
<> The One Who Smiles A Lot

June 19, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 19

  • After genetic testing, 11 cousins give up stomachs to avoid cancer (USA Today)
  • Hope For Sickle Cell Patients (CBS News)
  • Mixing Animal, Human Cells Gets Exotic (AP)
  • New Test for Detecting Genetic Defects in Embryos (Reuters)
  • Australia: Cabinet to Keep Bans on Therapy Cloning (
  • Canadians cure Huntington’s disease in modified mice (Canadian Press)
  • Britain: Doctors Want To Screen Out Embryos With Autism (The Sunday Times)
  • European Union Parliament Backs Embryo Research (The Scientist)
  • Nanoparticles in Sun Creams Can Stress Brain Cells (Nature News)
  • Wisconsin, California Could Spar Over Stem Cells (AP)
  • Chinese Surgeon’s Claims about Cell Implants Disputed (Boston Globe)
  • Future of care: Home sweet (medical) home (MSNBC)
  • What You Should Know About Complementary and Alternative Medicine (HealthDay)
  • Egg freezing boosts baby chances (BBC)
  • Inquiry Into Reporter’s Death Finds Multiple Failures in Care (New York Times)

Stem Cells: Adult vs. Embryonic

Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics has updated their list of “Benefits of Stem Cells to Human Patients.” They now list 70 diseases or conditions that are being treated with stem cells from adult (or non-embryonic) stem cells and 0 that are being treated with stem cells from embryos.

June 16, 2006

Quote of the Week

If you look at all the discussions surrounding biotechnology, I feel that we are clearly focusing too much on ethics.

Toine Manders, Dutch liberal member of the European Parliament, on discussions in the European Parliament about stem cell research. From “Debate on stem cells holds back EU research drive,” Financial Times, June 14, 2006.

Bioethics in the News — June 16

  • Artificial Brains Could Soon Become A Reality (KGO)
  • Stem Cell Superpowers Exposed: Conversion Factor For Adult Cells Could Sidestep Cloning Controversy (Nature News)
  • Priest’s Selfless Gift of Stem Cells Saved Kentucky Woman (Courier-Journal)
  • Skin Stem Cells Aid Nerve Cells (Toronto Sun)
  • Debate on Stem Cells Holds Back EU Research Drive (Financial Times)
  • Lack of Human Eggs Could Hamper US Cloning Efforts (Technology Review)
  • Singapore: Committee To Recommend Protection Of Personal Information In Biomedical Research (People’s Daily)
  • Scientist’s Study Of Brain Genes Sparks a Backlash (Wall Street Journal)
  • Genes, Not Experience Explain Why The Lives Of Some Take Bad Turn (Wall Street Journal)
  • AMA Wants Halt on Drug Ads Aimed at Consumers (HealthDay)
  • Acupuncture shows promise for fibromyalgia (Reuters)

June 15, 2006

Bioethics in the News — June 15

  • Wealthy Go to U.S. to Choose Baby’s Sex (AP)
  • Prompt stem-cell decision sought (Mercury News)
  • EU lawmakers urge status quo on stem cell research (Reuters)
  • A way around dilemmas of stem cells (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Bishops urge vote against stem cell funding (eircom)
  • Mercy, other hospitals nationwide, celebrate 122,000 lives saved (
  • The genius sperm bank (BBC)
  • That Wild Streak? Maybe It Runs in the Family (New York Times)
  • Ind. midwife pleads guilty in infant death (USA Today)

The Consequences of Legalized Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

On May 25, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights held a hearing on the topic, “The Consequences of Legalized Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.” Eight people testified at the hearing, and transcripts of their testimony are now available on the Judiciary Committee’s website.

June 14, 2006

Online Discussion: Ethics in the Ambulance

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an online discussion going over the issue of emergency situation clinical trials.

In a dozen or so scientific studies since 1996, people have been serving as medical guinea pigs unwittingly. Under a federal rule, clinical trials may proceed without the subject’s informed consent if the situation is life-threatening, the patient is unconscious and cannot grant permission, and no family members are present to give consent. Does the chance to save lives now, and in the future, justify such studies?


The Bioethics Poll
Should individuals and/or institutions be allowed to patent human genes?
Yes, with some qualifications

View results

Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

View results

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your global information source on bioethics news and issues