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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

From Time Magazine: With the advent of new genetic tests, it's increasingly easy to gauge whether you're predisposed to developing certain conditions — diabetes, say, or breast cancer. For adults, that knowledge can be simultaneously overwhelming and empowering. For children, the ramifications of such predictions are especially controversial, which is why professional groups — the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in particular — have come out against genetic testing of children for adult-onset diseases.

Yet a new study published today in the AAP-affiliated journal Pediatrics finds that parents who were offered the option of genetic testing for themselves said they would also like to test their children. The 219 parents surveyed indicated they believe that the risks of testing their children for eight adult-onset conditions — colon, skin and lung cancer; heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis — outweigh the benefits.


“We told parents in the study that there are no known health benefits to these tests because we were trying to almost discourage these tests,” says McBride.

The study is part of a larger look at the public's attitudes toward genetic testing by the NHGRI, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Although no kids were actually tested as part of the study, researchers are concerned that less-than-perfect test results in the real world could spark negative emotions among parents and children.

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Should women be held criminally liable for their pregnancies? Read what happened to one woman who tried to commit suicide while pregnant.

From The Daily Beast:
Bei Bei Shuai was so depressed last Christmas, she chose a punishing way to die: rat poison. When her friends swooped in and saved her life, the Chinese restaurant owner’s story might have ended happily, except for one detail about Shuai's condition: she was 33 weeks pregnant.

While Shuai survived the suicide attempt, her fetus ultimately did not. The state of Indiana responded not with continuing mental health services, but by incarcerating the 34 year-old on charges of murder and attempted feticide. Today, a judge will determine if she’ll be released on bail.

The case is something out of a Margaret Atwood novel. Medical groups have unanimously railed against the state's actions as being punitive and counter to public health goals, since they may deter at-risk women from seeking care. And the American Civil Liberties Union argues the charges are unconstitutional: “If a woman can be criminally prosecuted for those acts or omissions (or medical conditions) that pose a threat to her health while pregnant, then the state’s control over her life would be limitless,” says the group's amicus brief.

But the state of Indiana is not persuaded by such arguments. And based on the emotional testimony of Shaui's friend Sui Mak at a bail hearing last week, you might wonder if the prosecutor has a shred of compassion, let alone an understanding of criminal justice.


arion Country Chief Trial Deputy David Rimstidt defended his office's actions. “She attempted suicide and that resulted in the death of a fetus that was born and lived for a few days and then died,” he said. “So she's being charged with the crime against the viable fetus, and the child that was born, and not against herself.” The last statement explains why she was charged with both attempted feticide and murder.

Holding a woman criminally liable for the outcome of her pregnancy is a radical interpretation of the law, legal experts told The Daily Beast. “Indiana does not prosecute people for attempted suicide,” said Indiana University law professor, medical doctor, and former state representative David Orentlicher. “So now this prosecutor is saying, ‘If you're suicidal, you better not get pregnant, because you might get thrown in jail.’ That to me is a very important constitutional problem.”

I encourage you to read the entire article. Let us know what you think.

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