Taking stock: Where are we now?

January 30, 2016 • Posted in Blog

Thumbtack with

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 him the decision he had recently pursued.

The “Death with Dignity” bill was sponsored in the Tennessee legislature by Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley. Quoted in The Tennessean, Mr. Fitzhugh honored his friend, Mr. Hooker, with these words: “I found his love for our great state to be enormous, and unceasing. Until his last breath, he was committed to helping others, fighting for what he believed to be right, and being a voice for the voiceless.” There seems no lack of dignity in Mr. Hooker’s death.

We are HERE: Mr. Hooker died while his case was pending before the Tennessee Court of Appeals, and that case awaits another plaintiff.

Three-Parent Embryos

These were approved in the UK in 2015.

We are HERE: In the U.S., the matter is under consideration by the FDA, and we await their decision.


How it works:
“Everything You Need to Know About CRISPR, the New Tool that Edits DNA”
(Gizmodo, 6 May 2015)

“Scientists Capture Crispr’s Gene-Cutting in Action”
(Wired, 14 Jan 2016)

We are HERE:

Predictions for 2016: “CRISPR will make 2016 the year of gene-edited organisms” (New Scientist, 15 Dec 2015)

Who controls it? “This week, the fierce battle over who invented it officially kicked off, with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line.” (Washington Post, 13 Jan 2016)

Ban proposed: “We must not engineer the genes we pass on to our descendants.” (Center for Genetics and Society)

Stay tuned. The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture will do our part to keep you informed. You are always welcome to contact us here.