sábado, 25 de noviembre de 2017

BioEdge: Russian surrogacy, controversial and unregulated

BioEdge: Russian surrogacy, controversial and unregulated


Russian surrogacy, controversial and unregulated
A Russian senator has proposed a ban on both commercial and altruistic surrogacy. Anton Belyakov, of the small A Just Russia party, compares commercial surrogacy to prostitution, which is banned. “It is immoral and brings harm to both mother and the child,” he told Women and Girls News Deeply.

Surrogacy is booming in Russia according to News Deeply. Vladislav Melnikov, head of one of the European Centre for Surrogacy, says that 2,000 children were born in Russia to surrogate mothers in 2016. Nationwide there are around 100 surrogacy centres, including 40 in Moscow.

The financial incentive for commercial surrogacy is substantial. Teachers, a common profession for women, are paid only about US$700-850 a month. But the fee for a surrogate mother is about $14,000 – about 18 months’ wages.

“According to Russian law, a surrogate mother can only be a woman who already has children, so often women come to us because they need money to feed their kids, especially if her husband has left the family,” said the manager of a surrogacy agency in Saint Petersburg. “Most of them also have to pay credits or mortgage loans to the bank.”

The head of the Center for Reproductive Law and Ethics, Konstantin Svitnev, has described the Russian Federation “as a sort of reproductive paradise, being the country with the most favorable legislation for intended parents, where no specific federal law regulates any aspect of assisted reproduction.” But the sketchy legislation can lead to great uncertainty.

Public opinion on the topic of surrogacy is divided. The hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church is bitterly critical. When Russian pop diva Alla Pugachova, then 64, and her 37-year-old husband had two children through surrogacy, a senior church spokesman said: “This is mutiny against God; this is very happy fascism with a contract, the money and confiscation of a child.”


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Good scientists have to be curious, tenacious, creative, intuitive and analytical. And it helps if they are humble, as well. At least that is my impression after reading about the Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero (see below.)

Canavero is the latest figure in a long queue of talented scientists led astray just in the last couple of years by the glamour of celebrity. Dr Canavero would no doubt deny this, but the scientific community is very sceptical of his project to transplant living heads onto living bodies. And although he has not had a single success in this project, he is already dreaming of transplanting brains.

Celebrity and science can make a toxic mix. There is thoracic surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, another Italian, whose work on artificial tracheas was hyped as life-saving, but turned out to be fraudulent.

Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel was renowned for his controversial research. He had faked the results of his experiments and even his PhD. Michael LaCour made headlines for his surveys about changing minds about gay marriage. He never carried out the surveys.

Japanese stem cell scientist Haruko Obokata found an incredibly simple method for creating pluripotent stem cells. And in fact, it was incredible.

What makes extremely talented and creative researchers choose the path of a circus performer rather than a dedicated scholar? Everyone has a different story, but perhaps the ancient Anglo-French word vaynglorie (vainglory) expresses it best. Are there classes for post-graduate students in humility? Perhaps there ought to be.

Michael Cook
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