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Tennessee Legislative Update: Commercial Surrogacy and a Pot of Gold

April 17, 2021 • Posted in Blog

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

References to pots of gold usually occur in the month of March, and involve leprechauns and rainbows. This year, pots of gold figure in at least one set of companion bills (House Bill No. 1379 and Senate Bill No. 425) the Tennessee Legislature is transforming into law. Instead of leprechauns and rainbows, though, it is the fertility physicians/clinics and “third-party reproductive care for the benefit of the enrollee(s).” The pots of gold are to be provided by “insurance companies,” which means, of course, “the insured,” which would include all of us who pay insurance ...read more

Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing

December 2, 2019 • Posted in Blog

 

A Book Review By R. Henry Williams, M.D., F.A.C.P., M.A. (Ethics) Board Chairman, The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture

Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing Erik Parens and Josephine Johnston, Editors Oxford University Press, 2019

 

 

As we now live in a time when our genetic code can be altered, whether for better or worse, how should we think about what is best for ourselves? How can we as a human species and as individuals flourish? These are the questions posed in the new volume, Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing. The essays here are interactive, frequently referencing one another, as the ...read more

Statement on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing

November 2, 2019 • Posted in Blog
The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture responds to the Public Call for Evidence for the International Commission* on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing

 

Given that According to the canons of research on children, experiments are only ethically justified when there are clear benefits to that individual child and proportional burdens to that child. Risks and burdens beyond truly “minimal” to individual children are not justified to benefit other children. To do so is to treat one child as a means to another child’s ends (i.e., to instrumentalize that child).

 

Whereas Human germline genome editing is experimentation on embryonic humans who cannot give consent, ...read more

Life Without Us?

November 2, 2019 • Posted in Blog

By Jane Patton, Guest Columnist

It is not new that some people say that they do not want to bring children into the world. And, as far as the do’s and don’ts of being environmentally responsible, the carbon footprint of a single human being tops the list of avoidable behaviors. One presidential candidate even advocates abortion as a way to combat climate change. So, it may be okay to have one or two children. Any more than that and parents might be called selfish.

But, a growing movement is taking the idea of limiting births to the next level—preventing all births. Who ...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

The Rubicon

July 30, 2018 • Posted in Blog

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

The law in the Roman Republic in 49 B.C. was very clear about an army crossing a small stream outside Rome: it was considered an act of war. Julius Caesar knew this, and led his 13th Legion across that stream, declaring, in the historian Suetonius’ words, “The die is cast!” Caesar and his army did not turn back, but continued on to war, and ultimately defeated Pompey the Great. This turning point in history is referenced whenever we talk about approaching a point of no return and utter the phrase, “crossing the Rubicon.”

“The Rubicon” sculpture ...read more