| BioEdge | Sunday, March 26, 2017
A controversial bill protecting doctors against ‘wrongful birth’ claims has passed the Texas Senate, garnering strong criticism from pro-choice groups.
The Physician Liability Bill allows doctors to withhold information about fetal abnormalities or disabilities from mothers when the disclosure of the information is deemed harmful. This will in turn prevent parents from suing doctors for what is known as ‘wrongful birth’ – according to which the doctor can be held accountable for preventing parents from making an informed decision about whether to have the child.
Pro-choice advocates argue that the bill is a veiled attempt to limit abortion rights.
“This bill places an unreasonable restriction on the constitutional right of a woman to make an informed decision about whether or not to have an abortion,” said Margaret Johnson, a member of the League of Women Voters of Texas, after the bill cleared the Senate on Monday.
De Paul University bioethicist Craig Klugman was similarly critical of the proposed law. “The bill would permit doctors to purposefully mislead the patient with no regard for the patient’s autonomy or best interest in an attempt to make a particular decision favored by the physician—to choose against abortion”, he wrote in a blog post.
But Republican Senator Brandon Creighton, the sponsor of the bill, described the current legal situation as “deeply disturbing”, and said that he would “fight to protect the value and dignity of every life including those born with disabilities”.The bill will now be debated by Texas’s House of Representatives, where it is expected to meet strong resistance.
A number of the eminences of Silicon Valley are besotted with immortality. Google, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are a just a few names amongst the many who want to do away with death, or at least add a few decades, or even a few hundred years, to their lifespans.
Even if this is achievable, is this desirable?
British sci-fi author and futurist Paul Graham Raven has written a blistering demolition of the transhumanist project. (Hat-tip to Wired.) It is basically a philosophy for selfish (and mostly white) rich guys, he suggests.
it turns out that technologies which extend, augment or otherwise improve human life are already here! You may have heard of some of them: clean water; urban sanitation; smokeless cooking facilities; free access to healthcare; a guaranteed minimum income; a good, free education. There are more – and you’d be surprised how many of them have been around in one form or another for decades, even centuries! But they’re unevenly distributed at the moment, so the first agenda item for all transhumanists should be looking for ways to get these technologies to everyone on the planet as soon as possible
But that is unlikely to happen. In their single-minded focus on maximising their own welfare, dedicated transhumanists are deaf to the needs of the society: “You look after yourself, I’ll look after me; what could be fairer than that?” Raven writes caustically. Come to think of it, this critique of personal autonomy could be applied to a number of other areas in bioethics.
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