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Our Summer Non-Vacation

September 23, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

“What I did on my summer vacation” is an assignment many of us have had to complete in the late Augusts or early Septembers of our lives, when we returned to school after the summer break. Given that Summer 2019 has just ended (although the high temperatures have yet to abate), an update on our activities is in order:

21 June 2019 — First Day of Summer

We hosted “Chicago Meets New York: Dinner and a Movie” at the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity’s 26th international bioethics conference on the campus of Trinity International University outside ...read more

When Can Others Help Themselves to Our Organs?

July 25, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

We have an opt-in organ donation system in the United States. That is, you have to say, “Yes,” to organ donation in order to donate. Opting in is very easy, and you can usually do that through your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Even those too young to vote can opt-in for organ donation. Why is this service available through the DMV? A few moments’ thought can yield an answer.

England has recently changed its law governing organ donation. The new “opt-out” law takes effect in 2020:

Everyone in England over the age of 18 will ...read more

AMA Resists Embracing “Neutrality” on Physician-Assisted Suicide

June 11, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Yesterday, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates voted to retain the current position of the AMA RE physician-assisted suicide. That was the recommendation of the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA), and the CEJA report was accepted by a 65:35 majority, according to the National Right to Life News.

CEJA is responsible for maintaining and updating the AMA’s Medical Code of Ethics, and promoting “adherence to the Code’s professional ethical standards.” Last year, CEJA recommended maintaining the long-held AMA stance against physician-assisted suicide, but the House of Delegates rejected that recommendation. Further ...read more

A Moratorium on Heritable Human Genome Editing: Illusory or Real?

May 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In March, 2019, Nature published a commentary penned by Eric Lander, Françoise Baylis, Feng Zhang, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and Paul Berg, and signed by 13 other notables. The name of the commentary is “Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing.” This document requires analysis.

First, some definitions are needed. A moratorium is defined as a “suspension of activity,” or “an authorized period of delay or waiting.” Heritable means “capable of being passed from one generation to the next.” Additionally, clinical can refer to a “scientifically detached” attitude or “the observation and treatment of patients directly.” Each of ...read more

Transgenic Monkeys: Coming to a Lab Near You?

April 30, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The initial draft sequence of the chimpanzee genome was published in September 2005 – in comparison with the human genome. A few months later, geneticist James M. Sikela wrote in PLOS Genetics, “the genes and genetic changes that are responsible for making the human brain what it is and for allowing it to do what it uniquely does, have long been among the most prized jewels of our genome.” In that paper, Sikela considered how one could locate the changes in the genome that account for “human-specific cognitive abilities.” How could one prove that a ...read more

A Book for (Y)our Time – A Review

March 28, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Reading Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene: An Intimate History (NY, NY: Scribner, 2016; paperback, 2017) is to take a 150+ year print journey with an English-speaking physician and scientist, who is also a renaissance man. Mukherjee, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for his non-fiction work, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. I have not read that earlier work, but have spent time delving into The Gene.

The Gene: An Intimate History begins with the author’s 2012 trip to Calcutta with his father to visit a ...read more

Shift and Puzzle: What do an ape and a donkey have to do with bioethics?

January 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

Unmasking the Cultural Lies, One at a Time

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, Shift is a shrewd, crafty ape, and his neighbor, Puzzle, is a meek, somewhat simple donkey. It has been a long time since Aslan, the all-powerful lion, has been seen in Narnia. Therefore, when Shift spies an old lion skin, he decides to have Puzzle dress up in it and pretend to be Aslan. Shift constantly insists that Puzzle do all the heavy-lifting involved in any of their escapades, but in such a way that Puzzle thinks he is getting the ...read more

What Say You?

December 18, 2018 • Posted in Blog

Update: See the bottom of this post for the National Institutes of Health’s response to our letter. 

An Open Letter to Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. Director National Institutes of Health 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland 20892 execsec1@od.nih.gov

17 December 2018

Dear Dr. Collins:

The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture lauds the position of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as evidenced by your concluding statement of 28 November 2018: “NIH does not support the use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos.” As embryonic humans represent the most vulnerable amongst our species, the ...read more

Crossing a Bright Red Line: Human Embryo Editing

November 30, 2018 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

On Monday of this week, He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, shocked the scientific world prior to the beginning of a conference on gene editing. Dr. He announced a first: that he had edited the genes of embryos for seven couples undergoing fertility treatments, and that one pregnancy has resulted to date. It should be noted that there is no corroboration of this claim currently: it is an announcement; no scientific paper has been published about it.

Some of the specific claims, published in The Guardian, are as follows:

All of ...read more

What if we call it “Medical Aid in Dying”?

October 31, 2018 • Posted in Blog

 

A Lesson from History

In the aftermath of WWII, Leo Alexander penned the following as part of an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine:

The Example of Successful Resistance by the Physicians of the Netherlands There is no doubt that in Germany itself the first and most effective step of propaganda within the medical profession was the propaganda barrage against the useless, incurably sick described above. Similar, even more subtle efforts were made in some of the occupied countries. It is to the everlasting honor of the medical profession of Holland that they recognized the earliest and most subtle ...read more