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Fall 2004 - Winter 2005 • Robert P. George and Patrick Lee on moral standing and bad metaphors
Fall 2004 - Winter 2005
September 29, 2008 •
Your humble blogger has a review in the latest issue of the Weekly Standard about Donna Dickenson’s chilling exposé, Body Shopping: The Economy Fuelled by Flesh and Blood. In the piece, I discuss some of the more grisly practices of the global trade in human flesh and how we can rein in the worst of the body-snatchers:
Body Shopping describes a science that has become positively vampiric in its insatiable appetite for human tissue and organs, sometimes outright stealing the raw material it needs. A veritable black market in human flesh has been established, with each part individually appraised and priced: “Hand, $350-$850, Brain, $500-$600, Eviscerated torso, $1,100-$1,290.” A whole cadaver can fetch up to $20,000. The uses to which this tissue is put are no less gruesome. Bone dust from stolen cadavers might be found in your dental work. The collagen used to plump a starlet’s lips is likely derived from the cells of an infant’s foreskin. The “secret ingredient” in the various beauty treatments marketed to Russian women? Aborted fetuses from Ukraine.
“One way or another someone makes money off the dead,” one proud body snatcher declared, even as he pleaded guilty to over 60 counts of mutilation of human remains, and embezzlement. The entrepreneurial spirit cannot be tamed, it would seem, especially in so lucrative a venture as body shopping.
RELATED: I interviewed Professor Dickenson about her book for Conceptions here.
July 18, 2008 • Nature magazine's July issue has a special feature on the 30th anniversary of IVF. After discussing the legacy of IVF (subscrip. req'd), Nature asked a group of scientists what the next 30 years of IVF research will look like. Among the predictions:
- Scientists will be able to create sperm and egg cells for anyone. Using sperm and egg cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, scientists will end infertility. Newborns and hundred-year-olds could become parents.
- Embryo research will become a "fact of life": "They would become objects and would be used as objects...Maybe 20–30 years from now we'll read in newspapers that someone made 20,000 embryos and studied their development, and we'll decide it's OK."
- IVF for less than $100: Cheap IVF will soon be made available in developing countries.
- Healthy babies will be assured with the use of "genetic cassettes." Scientists will insert the cassettes into embryos to correct for diseases like Huntington's.
- But people will still have sex: "IVF is expensive and uncomfortable. The old-fashioned way is cheaper and more fun and that won't change in 30 years."
- Artificial wombs will change the abortion debate: "If an artificial womb were developed, the government could pass a law that requires people who have a termination of pregnancy to put the fetus into one of these wombs."
- Alert the trial lawyers: There will be litigation over the health of IVF babies. "With the increasing availability of IVF, there will be more emphasis on safety. Not enough is known about the long-term health of the Louise Browns of this world — if there is a problem, it will be unexpected."
May 27, 2008 •
- For years, sperm banks have focused solely on sperm donors and the women they get pregnant—not the offspring they produce. That's about to change.
- Who's more likely to be treated: a premature infant, or an older patient with a lower chance of survival?
- "Frankenstein Science": Has Britain lost its way?
- "The hardest decision is knowing when to stop treatment. You always think, 'What if the next one works?'"
- Do all women have the right to become mothers?
- An unusual set of quadruplets: A Nigerian woman gives birth to identical twins and fraternal twins.
- "You can walk in and say your sister got pregnant and everyone else will say 'Oh my God, we hate her too.'"
- Germany decries Britain's new ART law.
- A gene for infertility?
- More repro-lit: The pregnant man writes a memoir. A new play about how people become parents.
- Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards feud over "sperm donation" email.
- Natural remedies for infertility? Acupuncture gains popularity.
- The "next big advance in IVF": DNA fingerprinting.
- Babies born preterm are more than twice as likely to have major birth defects as full-term infants.
May 21, 2008 •
- It's infertility awareness week in Canada. More Canadians are looking to the U.S. for egg donors.
- One in five Irish couples experience infertility.
- In the U.K.: A good summary of the debate over the HFEA. Do embryos need fathers? Despite a recent defeat, the abortion debate is heating up. Is Britain "one step closer to designer babies?" How about cybrids?
- Gordon Brown defends embryo research: a "moral endeavor" that can save the "lives of millions."
- Simon Jenkins: "MPs should stop meddling in how people choose to plan and protect their families. They have enough trouble with their own."
- South Korea bans cross-species cloning. Disgraced stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-Suk will clone dogs for cash.