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Informed Consent: A Hazy Concept

July 22, 2022 • Posted in Blog

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Distinguished Fellow The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture

We’re all too familiar with those awkward television commercials for drugs whose names cannot be pronounced because they have too many consonants. To be fair, drug manufacturers have run out of eloquent ways to combine the letters of the alphabet, so they just string them together as best they can. But beyond the alphabet soup, the television voice recites a sometimes-arresting list of possible complications of taking the drug: dizziness, insomnia, tiredness—or the even more arresting—intense sexual or gambling urges and explosive diarrhea, which hopefully do not occur simultaneously! The ...read more

GATTACA: 25 Years On

June 30, 2022 • Posted in Blog

Joyce A. Shelton, Ph.D. Professor of Biology Emerita Trinity International University

(Editor’s Note: The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture screened GATTACA at the end of June at the international bioethics conference held by the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity at Trinity International University. Dr. Shelton presented opening remarks, which, lightly edited, are presented here.)

The movie, GATTACA, is entertaining to watch as is, but is also rife with symbolism and subtle—and some not so subtle—philosophical messages. 25 years on: it has proved to be prescient in a number of ways.

GATTACA depicts a dystopian world in which there is a new type of social ...read more

I Should Have Read More History

March 9, 2022 • Posted in Blog

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

As a teenager, I decided I wanted to be a physician — to help people. I also naively thought that medicine was apolitical. I should have read more history. If I had, I might have come across the story of Ignác Fülöp Semmelweis.

Semmelweis was born to Hungarian parents slightly more than 200 years ago, in 1818. Although he began to study law, he ended up graduating from medical school in 1844. Other plans of his changed as well. When he did not land a position in internal medicine, he spent four extra months training to ...read more

If Monkeys Could Talk

May 13, 2021 • Posted in Blog

Joyce A. Shelton, Ph.D. Professor of Biology, Trinity International University Guest Column

Recent news announcements proclaimed, with both excitement and alarm, that Tan and colleagues, scientists from China and the US, had successfully produced human-monkey hybrid embryos. (1, 2) The hybrids (also termed chimeras) were made by injecting human pluripotent stem cells from an induced pluripotent stem cell line into 132 early- stage monkey embryos. Human pluripotent stem cells have the capacity to develop into a range of tissues and cell types which ultimately form all the structures of the human body including the brain and reproductive cells (sperm and egg). (3) In ...read more

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