In its recent photography exhibition, Portrait of Britain, displayed throughout the UK high streets, the British Journal of Photography featured a beautiful portrait of Beth Costerton, photographed for ‘This Is Me’, an exhibition of 50 portraits of children who have Down’s syndrome. This is a welcome development at a time when children with Down syndrome are at risk of extinction.
The nationwide exhibition on digital screens in railway stations, shopping centres, high streets and bus stops around the UK was based on a call for photographs that celebrate the UK’s unique heritage and diversity. Of nearly 4000 entries, the British Journal of Photography selected the portraits that capture the diversity of British people. The inclusion of the picture by photographer Andrew Shaylor of a girl with Down syndrome, Beth Costerton, sends a clear signal that such persons are equal members of British society. Continue reading
On 21 June, Dr. Petra De Sutter, a Belgian transgender senator and gynaecologist specialising in surrogacy and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), will try again to get the Committee on Social Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to support the legalization of surrogacy, despite the rejection of his/her previous report in March and his/her clear conflict of interest.
The move flouts the values of the Council of Europe, both through the content of the motion and the pocedure through which it is promoted. Continue reading
One should be cautious with superlatives, and beware of using the term “historic” too frequently. But this is certainly one of the great moments of Church history: for the first time a Roman Pontiff has met the Hear of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. Not for the first time after one thousand years, but for the first time ever. Continue reading
By giving permission to a group of researchers to genetically modify human embryos, the United Kingdom has re-affirmed its role as the EU country in which scientists have to comply with the lowest ethical standards. The British government apparently considers low ethics a competitive advantage.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has, for the first time, approved a licence to use gene editing in research. This decision recklessly tears down one of the last ethical barriers for research. From now on, ethics will never again be an obstacle for ambitious researchers, or for the multi-million industry behind them. Continue reading
What is the rule of ethics in the EU’s law-making process? This question will be discussed on 3 February at an event hosted by the EPP Group on Bioethics at the premises of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Observers are well aware that many law-makers, and in particular the European Commission, view ethics as something to tick off on their check-list, i.e. merely as an obstacle on the path towards new legislation. The result can be seen for example in the Commission’s response to the pro-life citizens’ initiative ONE OF US, in which it claimed to apply a high standard of ethical criteria when granting EU funds to research projects on human embryonic stem-cells. And what was this “high ethical standard”? It basically consisted in saying that the EU would not fund any project that is illegal in all EU Member States, or in the state where it is carried out. In other words, not contravening criminal law is sufficient for the Commission to claim that “high ethical standards” are met. N.B., this could also apply in which the research project at question would be illegal in 27 of 28 Member States, with the exception of the one Member State where it is carried out.
In Graz (Austria) a woman aged 25 has discovered that she is not who she thought she was. Upon participating in a blood donation program it turned out that she cannot be a descendant of the woman she believed to be her mother. It is now surmised that due to organizational mismanagement in the clinic where she was born she was by accident given to the wrong parents immediately after her birth. The public authorities have now called upon all women who were born during the same week in the same hospital to undergo tests in order to find out the other woman who grew up with the wrong parents.
Tragic as this may be, it was at least not intentional that two women grew up with false identities. However, the outrage over this case makes us wonder why the exactly same situation, i.e. having to grow up with a false identity, should be perfectly acceptable in cases of surrogacy, sperm and egg cell donation, etc., in which reproductive doctors and their clients usually have no qualms at all about bereaving children of their true parents and their true identities.
Only because the adults decide it that way?
On Monday 23 November the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will meet in Paris to discuss, inter alia, a report on Surrogacy Motherhood, “Human Rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy”.