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Comment to the National Institutes of Health on the Consideration of Certain Research Proposals Involving Human-Animal Chimera Models

September 6, 2016 • Posted in Blog

The proposal by the NIH to allow federal funding for the development of human-animal chimeras is ethically inappropriate on a variety of levels:

A civilization is marked by its treatment of the most vulnerable of its citizens. Human embryos are destroyed in the procurement of human embryonic stem cells. Taking apart microscopic human beings in order to place some of those parts into animals is an immoral activity for any society. Pursuing the production of human-animal chimeras opens the door to the possibility of having human neural and/or germ cells inside a non-human. Assurances regarding not allowing such human-animal chimeras to breed more

CRISPR — Who’s in Charge? (Part I)

August 31, 2016 • Posted in Blog

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

This is part I of our report. View part II, part III, or part IV.

The ability to edit genes using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) has been in the news for more than a year. A committee has been appointed to advise our government regarding the editing of genes, particularly editing the genes of the human embryo.

Who are the members of that committee? What are their views? The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture has been working to gather information for you, our readers. This is part I of our report.

On 16 June 2015, more

Bioethics “Reading List” — Summer 2016

June 30, 2016 • Posted in Blog

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

History, U.S., recent

Letter from Representative Marsha Blackburn, chair of the Committee of Energy and Commerce’s Select Investigative Panel investigating fetal tissue procurement in the United States, to New Mexico’s Attorney General, Hector H. Balderas, Jr., included the notebook of a laboratory technician, who recorded the following:

See pages 9-10/291 of the document, as well as “attachment 28.”

Instead of history, however, the request for “whole, fixed brains” (human, fetal) for summer campers to dissect should be classified under HORROR.


A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) “Intelligent robot that ‘remembers and learns’ could be scrapped after escaping a lab for a second time,” more

Morphing and Transforming: The Physician-Assisted Suicide Debate

May 31, 2016 • Posted in Blog

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

For years, Jack Kevorkian was synonymous with assisted suicide. Seeing patients after death was not sufficient for the pathologist; he wanted to help them to that state. Kevorkian’s first kit was made from flea-market items. That was 1989; the euthanasia group at that time was called “The Hemlock Society.”

Kevorkian lived in Michigan; ironically, his first subject, Janet Adkins, traveled from Portland, Oregon, in 1990 to use Kevorkian’s machine in his parked van. He started her i.v., but she had to activate the machine to administer the lethal substances.

Kevorkian went to prison for his illegal activities, more

What Hippocrates Knew

April 27, 2016 • Posted in Blog

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

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. John Patrick speak. It was a fairly wide-ranging lecture, but the mention of the Registry of Hippocratic Physicians caught my ear. So I contacted him to ask about that, and he agreed to a telephone interview. That follows below . . .

D. Joy Riley (DJR): How shall I introduce you to our readers? You are a British physician, with extensive experience feeding malnourished children in the Caribbean and Africa. You now call Ottawa, Canada, your home. What else do they need to know about you?

Dr. John Patrick more

Adam on the Road

February 23, 2016 • Posted in Blog

Adam Creating Himself by Karen Swenholt.

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

When our children were small, I read to them the story of Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. Stanley is an unfortunate boy who suffers an accident and becomes two-dimensional. Because of his shape, he is able to have adventures that normal, three-dimensional children cannot have, like being folded and mailed to a place far away.

Unlike Flat Stanley, Adam is three-dimensional, made of resin, and cannot be mailed easily or cheaply. But he is off on an adventure nonetheless. In fact, Adam has just begun his adventures on the road.

This more

Taking stock: Where are we now?

January 30, 2016 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.

Taking stock of where one is at the beginning of a new project or a new year is a good idea. Where we are in the entire realm of bioethics is beyond the scope of one blog post, but what follows are some landmarks discernible in January 2016…

Physician-Assisted Suicide

On Sunday, 24 January, John Jay Hooker, Tennessee lawyer, politician, and activist, died. Mr. Hooker had most recently championed “death with dignity” — physician-assisted suicide — in a proposed bill and in the courts. By the time of his death, neither the legislature nor the courts had provided more

We Were There…

December 29, 2015 • Posted in Blog

As the year 2015 comes to a close, we at The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture look back over a year of involvement in a number of important bioethics issues.

1) We were there when the Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare Committee met in Legislative Plaza Room 12 on 9 June 2015 to hear testimony regarding “Death with Dignity,” otherwise known as Physician-assisted Suicide (P-AS). We heard the testimony of John Jay Hooker and others promoting the bill. The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture stayed after a prominent news anchor and her television crew left the hearing. We stayed so we more

CRISPR: What is it? Who decides what we do with it?

November 30, 2015 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.

What is it?

Imagine a word processor for genes, where you could search for a defective gene, find the mutation, cut it out, and replace it with the proper DNA sequence. The cutting and replacing part of the process is what CRISPR and its associated (Cas) systems do. They are enzymes used to clip out particular sections of DNA in a cell’s nucleus, and replace the removed sections with other DNA segments, presumably replacing “defective” DNA with “good” DNA.

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) were first described in 2012, and the technique was used in human more

Why Did Gosnell Keep Severed Fetal Feet?

October 25, 2015 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.

Regrettably, in defending human dignity, we are often confronted with circumstances in which humanity is degraded. Warning: The following graphically details some of those circumstances brought to light.

The 2011 report of the Grand Jury investigating abortionist Kermit Gosnell included a number of strange details about his place of business, including, “The investigators found a row of jars containing just the severed feet of fetuses” (p. 21).

Image from

Why would anyone do this?

Fast forward to the summer of 2015 and the Center for Medical Progress, which released a series of more