All studies

The Freezing, Implantation, and Adoption of Embryos

The Freezing, Implantation, and Adoption of Embryos

- Assisted reproduction

Is it acceptable to freeze human embryos?

We began freezing human embryos in order to augment the efficiency of the diverse methods of medically assisted reproduction. In this way we do not have to 'oblige' women to be subjected to repeated ovary sampling, either in the case where a first implantation is not successful or when a new fertilization is desired.

If we consider these embryonic cells as merely biological material or a potential embryo, freezing only poses technical or juridical problems (e.g., to whom belong these embryos entrusted to the clinic, abandoned or forgotten in a hospital?). On the other hand, if we consider that it is necessary to respect the human being from its conception, then freezing an embryo is unacceptable. It is morally illicit.

In fact, we must ask ourselves what gives us the right to plunge an embryonic child into a 'cold prison?' In 1987 Donum vitae addressed the issue as follows: "The freezing of embryos, even when carried out in order to...

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Euthanasia Policy and practice in Belgium

Belgium - Euthanasia Policy and practice in Belgium

- Euthanasia and assisted suicide

Critical Observations and Suggestions for Improvement  

 

ABSTRACT: The essay opens with some background information about the context of euthanasia in Belgium. It proceeds by discussing the Belgian law on euthanasia and concerns about the law, its interpretations and implementation. Finally, the major developments and controversies since the law came into effect are discussed. Suggestions as to how to improve the Belgian law and circumscribe the practice of euthanasia are made, urging Belgian legislators and the medical establishment to refl ect and study so as to prevent potential abuse of vulnerable patients.

 
This article investigates and discusses the practice of euthanasia in Belgium. Its methodology is based on critical review of the literature supplemented by interviews I conducted in Belgium with leading scholars and practitioners in February 2003 and February 2005. The interviews were conducted in English, usually in the interviewees' offi ces. The interviews were sem...

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France - The changing of moral focus of newborn screening

- Prenatal Diagnosis

An Ethical Analysis by The President's Council on Bioethics, USA The changing of moral focus of newborn screening An Ethical Analysis by The President's Council on Bioethics, USA Nearly four million newborns undergo genetic screening every year in the United States. Yet, the process of genetic screening and its ethical implications are not well understood by their parents. Public discussion and education about recent changes in public policy and screening techniques is insufficient for parents to make informed choices. One aim of this white paper is to provide the background information every parent needs in order to understand the issues and to make informed choices.

Most states have mandatory genetic screening programs for newborn babies. Until recently such screening was limited to diseases that were well understood and for which effective treatments were available. Now, however, most mandatory screening programs also test for diseases that are not well understood and for...

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From Homo sapiens to Techno sapiens

- Assisted reproduction

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Children's Human Rights  to Natural Human Origin

Some old and new phenomena - adoption is old, new reproductive and genetic technologies and same-sex marriage are new - have recently thrown the issue of children's rights with respect to their biological origins and biological families into the public policy spotlight and public square debate.  

Adoption has long challenged children's rights with respect to their biological families. Early in the 20th century, societally condoned sperm donation presented a similar challenge. In the last thirty years new reproductive and genetic technologies (NRTs) have brought, and will continue to bring, unprecedented challenges. And, most recently same-sex marriage has done so. 
   From Homo sapiens to Techno sapiens: Children's Human Rights to Natural Human Origins", Proceedings, 14th World Congress on In Vit...

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Life Sciences or Death Sciences

- Rights and freedoms

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Tipping the Balance towards Life with Ethics, Codes, and Laws

The search for ethics to govern the life sciences and the threats to public health their misuse could entail, both nationally and internationally, is part of a complex ongoing process which is forcing us to confront diverse and sometimes strongly conflicting viewpoints.

To successfully reduce the threat of bioterrorism and biowarfare, and to protect public health, especially on a global level, we all will need to engage across boundaries that have separated us in the past. Only by doing so can we seek to ensure that the promise of our unparalleled discoveries of new knowledge in the life sciences is fulfilled and it's potential for unprecedented harm averted.
Certainly, no one measure will be sufficient to ensure that science is not misused, or public health put at risk, or people's...

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Thinking ethics: doing ethics

- Clauses of conscience

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Contemporary debates around the ethics of the new technoscience are the crucible in which some of our most important shared values as a society will be forged. We have always formed those values around the two great events in each human life, birth and death. The new science has the potential to radically change both those events. Whether it will and to what extent depends on our decisions about the ethics that should govern it.   

That we would disagree on at least some of the answers to the ethics issues posed by the new science is to be expected. But rather than bemoan our disagreements, we should welcome them, because they signal that we are engaging in "ethics talk". That talk requires a broadly based, public conversation on the ethics that should govern scientific and technological innovation and the unprecedented powers over life it has gi...

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Birth, Death & Technoscience

- End of life

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Searching for Values at the Margins of Life

The Changing Context of Birth and Death 

We humans have always formed our most important values and sought meaning in life by weaving a metaphorical fabric around the two marker events of every human life, birth and death.  Our perceptions of birth, and the values traditionally attached to it, are being challenged and changed, however, by the new technoscience.  The "new genetics" debate is the context in which that is occurring.  There is also a companion debate about euthanasia focusing on the values that should govern death.  While euthanasia is not a new issue, the current debate is of a different order (it is widespread in western democracies) and possibly different in kind (it is based on individual rights) from those in the past.  It is not an accident that we are presently debating both eu-ge...

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Ethics: a weapon to counter bioterrorism

- Rights and freedoms

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Advances in the life sciences, especially in molecular biology and informatics, and the potential for misuse of scientific research (the "dual-use" dilemma) raise the possibility that an act of terrorism could involve biological agents. International consensus is crucial on the steps needed to reduce this grave threat to humanity. One such step is to ensure that all people and institutions involved in science are aware of their ethical obligations.

An important way to promote the necessary international consensus and to raise the necessary awareness is through adoption of a code of ethics to govern research in the life sciences. It is with this thought that we set out to capture the critical elements that a code of ethics for the life sciences should include--one that we believe can help prevent the life sciences from becoming the death...

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“Thou shalt not die in pain”: Treatment decisions at the end of life

- Palliative care

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

A recent paper, Consensus Guidelines on Analgesia and Sedation in Dying Intensive Care Unit Patients (L.A Hawryluck, W.R.C. Harvey, L. Lemieux-Charles and P.A. Singer, University of Toronto, March 2002) attracted a great deal of media attention.  In the process, some confusion about the ethics and law of treating the pain and suffering of dying people, in particular, those in intensive care units, was revealed.  So, what are the current bottom-line ethical and legal rules?

Patient-centred decisionmaking...

First, decision making about treatment must be patient-centred - in the past, it was physician-centred.  Requiring the patient's - or the incompetent patient's representative's - informed consent to giving, withholding or withdrawing treatment, ensures patient-centredness. 

At a certain point, terminally ill patients - or their representatives ...

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Stud Bulls, Human Embryos

- Embryo research

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

... and politically incorrect people: reflections on an ethical society

Recently, I answered the phone and a reporter, who often contacts me, exclaimed, "You won't believe what they've done now!" (they being the scientists). I said, "Oh my God, they've cloned a child and it's just been announced".
The reporter said, "No. No, they've cloned Starbuck", Starbuck being the prize Canadian bull who died in 1998 at age 20, whose semen has been used to produce over 200,000 progeny around the world.
In fact, it is said that most of the prize cattle in the world are now related to him. She said, "We've just seen Starbuck II, this cute little one-month-old calf, who's in a special facility in the veterinary school at St. Hyacinth, Quebec. He's been genetically tested and it has been confirmed that he is indeed the clone of Starbuck. He was created from cells...

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