Early life

Surrogate motherhood : a violation of human rights

The commodification of the human body has been drawn into sharp focus over the last several years as issues such as human trafficking for organs and sexual servitude have gained international attention. Unfortunately, another form of trafficking has evaded the same level of attention and outrage of the international community: surrogacy motherhood. Surrogacy motherhood is a commodification of the human person: the child becomes the mere object of a convention, while the surrogate mother is used as an incubator. Such commodification in itself violates the dignity of both the surrogate mother and the child.

 A child born after a surrogacy agreement may have up to six adults claiming parent's rights over him or her: the genetic mother (egg donor), the gestational mother (surrogate), the commissioning mother; the genetic father (sperm donor), the husband of the gestational mother (presumption of paternity) and the commissioning father. The gametes of one or both the commissioning ...

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"Wrongful birth" : liability an indemnification

"Wrongful birth" : liability an indemnification

This article is dated 1998. We thank the author for authorising us to publish it.

1.           Both the Netherlands' Hoge Raad ("HR") and Germany's Bundesverfassungsgericht ("BVerfG") (Erster Senat) rendered in 1997 judgments concerning "wrongful birth" claims.
In the Dutch case, a physician, at the occasion of a surgery, had removed a contraceptive implant and, without advising his patient, had not replaced it.  In the first case before the BVerfG, a failed sterilization procedure carried out by a medical doctor who had been family planning counselor to the husband of plaintiff, was followed by a pregnancy; again, the doctor had neglected to inform his patient of the failure.  In both these cases, the "resulting" child turned out to be "normal" and healthy. 

This was different in the second German case.  The parents of a disabled daughter, fearing a genetic predisposition, had chosen to undergo a medical examination in a specialized institution in order to find out whether indeed ...

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Biotechnology & the Human Spirit

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

Facing the unprecedented challenge of reprogenetics

WHAT HAS CHANGED IN HUMAN REPRODUCTION?

Let's have a look, first, at the characteristics of human reproduction around fifty years ago:

Whether and when a child was conceived was largely a matter of chance (one could eliminate chance, of course, by not engaging in sexual intercourse, or reduce it by much less effective contraception than is available today). Where it was conceived was always in a woman's body. How life was transmitted to the child was through sexual reproduction. What genetic heritage the child received was determined by the natural recombination of the genes carried in the female parent's ovum and the male parent's sperm. Those genes were received by the child in their natural or unaltered state. The sex of the child was a matter of chance. Voices Across Boundaries Vol.1 No.2:...

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The Freezing, Implantation, and Adoption of Embryos

The Freezing, Implantation, and Adoption of Embryos

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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France - The changing of moral focus of newborn screening

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

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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