Holiday Weekend Reading and Watching

Happy New Year! Because New Year’s Day falls on Sunday this year, many will have a three day weekend, so I wanted to gather some resources you might want to read or watch, if you haven’t already.

First, though, here is a quick update on our year-end fundraising efforts: we need to raise $25,000 by the end of 2016, and so far we’ve received $18,000. In the video below, Jennifer gives a fuller update. Please help us close the final $7,000 gap today.


Here are a number of information sheets and ebooks that might be of interest. We’ve recently updated all of the documents in our “3 Things You Should Know About . . .” series:
3 Things You Should Know About Physician Assisted Suicide
3 Things You Should Know About Third Party Reproduction
3 Things You Should Know About Egg Donation
3 Things You Should Know About Sperm Donation
3 Things You Should Know About Surrogacy

Film has been an essential part of our work over the past several years (more on that below). As we traveled the world screening our films, we had numerous requests for study guide materials to accompany our documentaries and to expand on the issues presented. As part of our #ThinkAgain campaign, we developed Think Again: A Study Guide on the Legal, Medical, and Ethical Questions of Third Party Reproduction. This study guide is intended for a wide audience as we aim to meet the needs of high school groups, university students, law groups, church groups, and any other group interested in the issues of third party reproduction. Most importantly, the study guide is available for FREE in order to maximize distribution and use. You can download it here.

We also have several ebooks available, also FREE of charge. What women don’t know about their eggs can sometimes lead to infertility or even grave illness. Every day, women in America make choices about what to do with their bodies and their futures—and many of them suffer tragedies as a result of the wrong choices. To protect our children, we need to make sure they know the health factors involved in their decisions. Here are Five Things Moms Should Tell Their Daughters about their eggs.

Since we released Breeders: A Subclass of Women?, we’ve been contacted by many women who have served as surrogates. This ebook, My Experience as a Surrogate, contains one woman’s first-person account of her surrogacy experience. While it’s a short read, it’s a powerful and important one. I encourage you to read it.

In 2013, Jennifer interviewed an Egg Donor Recruiter. She contacted us after researching our film Eggsploitation, and agreed to talk about her experience working for 18 years with a leading fertility center in the United States. Click here for An Exclusive Interview with An Egg Donor Recruiter.

After a screening of Breeders: A Subclass of Women?, Jennifer had the opportunity to speak with a surrogate. She gave permission to share her story. It’s a powerful story, and she has something to say to people who are considering surrogacy (either being a surrogate or getting one). It’s a short read, but an important one. An Exclusive Interview with a Surrogate Mother.

Since we first released Eggsploitation, seeking to expose the truth about egg ‘donation,’ we have been contacted by many women who want to share the story of their experience. We gathered these stories together in one place for you to read and share: Egg Donor Stories.


All six of our films are available to watch online. Anyone up for a binge-watch?

Compassion and Choice DENIED

Compassion and Choice DENIED explores the effects efforts to legalize physician assisted suicide have on those who are living with terminal illness but who do not want “aid in dying.” The film features Stephanie, a wife and mother living with a terminal diagnosis. She has experienced first-hand the dangerous effects of California’s recent legalization of physician assisted suicide.

As she deals with insurance denials of treatment her doctor ordered and changes in the tone of conversations in various support groups, her story highlights the ways in which the difficulty of living with a terminal diagnosis is compounded by the growing cultural acceptance of the notion of assisted suicide. This negatively changes the ways in which people with terminal illnesses are thought of, and the ways in which they think about themselves.

But hers is also a story of hope. Her hope is that if we can change our way of thinking about the process of dying and those who are dying, we will be able to provide the resources people truly need to be supported and well cared for at the end of their lives.

This film is available to watch for FREE, in full via Facebook and YouTube.

For more information visit Compassion and Choice DENIED

Maggie’s Story

Maggie’s Story is an all new documentary short (22 min) that follows one woman’s journey of learning about “helping” others have a child they desperately want, what she discovered in becoming an egg donor, and the consequences that followed. Maggie was told how special she was, but she was never informed of the risks egg donation posed to her own health and well being. She was used repeatedly for others’ gain, but when things turned bad, she was left on her own to navigate tests, treatments, surgeries, and an unknown prognosis.

Watch online at

Maggie’s Story is also available on Amazon. For those who are Amazon Prime members, Maggie’s Story is FREE! Others may rent the film for $2.99 or purchase it for $9.99.

For more information visit

Breeders: A Subclass of Women?

Surrogacy is fast becoming one of the major issues of the 21st century—celebrities and everyday people are increasingly using surrogates to build their families. But the practice is fraught with complex implications for women, children, and families. What is the impact on the women who serve as surrogates and on the children who are born from surrogacy? In what ways might money complicate things? What about altruistic surrogacy done for a family member or close friend? Is surrogacy a beautiful, loving act or does it simply degrade pregnancy to a service and a baby to a product? Can we find a middle ground? Should we even look for one?

Watch online at

For more information visit

Anonymous Father’s Day

Thousands of donor-conceived people have a deep longing to know who they belong to, where they come from, and who they look like. What is it like to grow up not knowing who your biological father is or if you have any siblings? What is it like to find out that the man you thought was your dad is not your biological father, that your true biological father donated his sperm and is known only by a number? How does it impact your self-perception, the choices you make, and your view of life and the world? Donor-conceived people are demanding answers to these basic questions about their origins, their lives, and their identities.

Watch online at

For more information visit


The infertility industry in the United States has grown to a multi-billion dollar business. What is its main commodity? Human eggs. Young women all over the world are solicited by ads—via college campus bulletin boards, social media, online classifieds—offering up to $100,000 for their “donated” eggs, to “help make someone’s dream come true.” But who is this egg donor? Is she treated justly? What are the short- and long-term risks to her health? The answers to these questions will disturb you.

Eggsploitation is available on iTunes, Amazon Instant, YouTube, and Google Play

For more information visit

Lines That Divide

Stem cell research: A potential miracle cure for diseases or a form of biological colonialism? The debate still rages over this controversial science. Supporters argue that it is our moral duty to pursue scientific progress that provides healing hope for humanity. Detractors argue that the ends don’t justify the means in harvesting some human life to save others. This documentary seeks to educate the public on the scientific basics of stem cell research and the moral issues surrounding it as we enter the 21st century.

Watch online at

For more information visit


All of these resources were developed because of your generosity. As I write, we need to close a $7,000 end-of-year funding gap. Please give today! Help us start 2017 strong. Help us keep making resources like these. Thank you!!

The Center for Bioethics and Culture is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit educational organization. All gifts are tax-deductible.


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Frozen Souls

Last week on her personal Facebook account, Jennifer posed the question, “What’s going to be the fall-out from the human social experiment of embryo donation and adoption?”

A healthy discussion followed in the comments to her post. People weighed in to emphasize strong pro-life principles, cautions about lessons that should be learned from the history of adoption, the uniqueness of such a situation in the history of humankind, and more.

This morning Jennifer recorded a Facebook live video to further the discussion of this important but under-reported—and arguably under-considered and under-discussed—topic. In the video she offers four points:

  1. We should stop generating “excess” embryos, stop freezing embryos
  2. There are no perfect solutions to the current situation of 600,000 to 750,000 frozen embryos in the United States
  3. The way embryos are treated under current US law is an uneasy mix of property transfer and adoption
  4. What do we as a society owe frozen embryos?

The full video is about 5 1/2 minutes long. Take some time to watch the video and think about the topic of embryo donation. What are your thoughts? Share them over on our Facebook page!

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A Populist Bioethics Commission?

Our friend Wesley Smith makes some provocative suggestions for President-Elect Trump to establish a “populist bioethics commission.”

The issue is pressing because biomedical technology is way out ahead of our policies:

We are entering Brave New World territory, with potentially momentous impact on culture and the concept of family. Human cloning has, with way too little fanfare, been accomplished. Researchers are on the verge of creating sperm and eggs from skin cells. Efforts are underway to open the door to the creation of “three-parent” embryos. Transhumanists argue in favor of “seizing control of human evolution” and creating a “post-human species.”

The best way in a democracy to work toward better policy is through a well-informed citizenry. While not everyone will agree with all parts of Smith’s proposal, his third point is excellent!

Third, a populist bioethics commission would broaden its focus beyond offering arcane policy guidance. It should also sponsor public presentations and debates, have members appear on radio and television, and make extensive use of social media to engage the public in bioethical controversies and principles. If the people are paying greater attention to the potentially culture-changing issues within the commission’s purview, politicians would have little choice but to follow.

Bioethics is a tremendously important issue that receives far, far too little attention. Kudos to Smith for putting forward this idea.

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Official Selection

We are very pleased that Eggsploitation is an Official Selection of the Silicon Valley International Film Festival 2016. This festival takes place on the campuses of several well-known tech companies this week.

Today, Jennifer is at Dell’s Silicon Valley campus to show the film, and she is posting Facebook Live updates on the events there.

As she mentions in the video, one of the most exciting aspects of this is that the organizers of the film festival contacted us, asking if they could show Eggsploitation. What a tremendous affirmation of the enduring importance of the work that you enable us to do.

The festival continues tomorrow and Friday on the campuses of SalesForce and Google. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more video updates from Jennifer.

We simply cannot say it enough: This work is not possible without your help!

Thank you!


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Clear about What is at Stake

In recent testimony before the New Jersey Health and Human Services Committee, Dr. Matthew Suh of the New Jersey medical association succinctly described exactly what is at stake when it comes to a proposed bill entitled “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.” reports:

“Let’s be clear, this is government-funded suicide,” said Dr. Matthew Suh, representing the state medical association, who said the bill was “fundamentally incompatible” with the physician’s role as a healer.

The bill was this week passed out of committee an on to the full State Senate for consideration. We agree completely with Dr. Suh about “Aid in Dying,” which is in reality assisted suicide. Note: when you’re having to change the name of the actions you’re doing in order to disguise what it is you’re doing, you are well off track ethically!.

The New Jersey Senate should reject this measure, full stop. For more on the issue of assisted suicide, see our resource page and our one page PDF, “Three Things You Should Know about Physician Assisted Suicide.”

Spoiler alert: Physicians Should Never Be In the Business of Harming Their Patients, Physician Assisted Suicide Places Society’s Weakest and Vulnerable at Elevated Risks, Physician Assisted Suicide is Bad Public Policy. The PDF contains explanations of each point as well as links to sources and further resources on the topic. Be sure to read the whole thing!

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Film Recommendation: “Alive Inside”

Thanks to Facebook’s “On This Day” feature I was this morning reminded of the film Alive Inside, which I wrote about enthusiastically two years ago this week.

As I wrote then, my encouragement is for you to “see the film if and when you can.” I definitely still feel that way.

Alive Inside is currently available to watch on Netflix, and of course to purchase through Amazon and iTunes.

If you’re looking for something uplifting to watch this weekend, Alive Inside will fit the bill!


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Compassion and Choice DENIED

This morning we released the official trailer for our newest documentary short film, DENIED.

The film explores the impact that the legalization of physician assisted suicide has on those who want to live.

We explore this through the story of Stephanie, a terminally ill mother of four who has experienced first hand the effects of California’s legalization of physician assisted suicide.

In short, the result is that compassion and choice are both denied.

The trailer is embedded below and is available on both our YouTube channel and our Facebook page.

Stay tuned to our website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn for updates as we move toward releasing the full documentary short film.

Also be sure to sign up for our email list if you haven’t done that yet.

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3 Things You Should Know About Physician Assisted Suicide

Over the next few days I want to highlight our “3 Things You Should Know About . . .” document series.

To begin, here are 3 Things You Should Know About Physician Assisted Suicide.

  1. Physicians Should Never Be In the Business of Harming Their Patients
  2. Physician Assisted Suicide Places Society’s Weakest and Vulnerable at Elevated Risks
  3. Physician Assisted Suicide is Bad Public Policy

The Center for Bioethics and Culture believes that permitting doctors to assist in the suicides of dying people is wrong and is a form of abandonment. The proper and compassionate approach to suicidal desire—whatever its cause—is compassionate intervention and prevention, not facilitation.

Click here to download a one page PDF that expands on each of these points and includes references to the latest supporting research.

As I mentioned, this is one of a series of “3 Things You Should Know About . . .” documents, so stay tuned for more soon!

Public Domain Image by Nicolas Vigier via flickr (CC0 1.0)

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Dignity, Sickness, and Suffering

Amy Hasbrouck, the executive director of Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet Canada, recently wrote a terrific piece on the ways in which journalists sometimes (often?) distort the realities of assisted suicide and euthanasia when they report on it.

She takes as her jumping off point an HBO Vice “Right to Die” segment, which she finds to be propaganda rather than journalism.

Particularly helpful in Hasbrouck’s article is the attention she draws to ways in which dignity is set in opposition to disability.

the producers had their minds made up on the issue before they began to explore it, and so neglected to portray the arguments against assisted suicide and euthanasia fairly. They played upon public fears of becoming disabled, using the term ‘dignity’ as the opposite of disability, and implying that the only way to retain control in one’s life was to have assisted death.

This kind of view is not only false, it is harmful — and even dangerous — to make the mistake of thinking that disability (or sickness or suffering of any kind) leave people without dignity.

All human beings have an innate and irreducible dignity. All deserve equal respect and treatment. No human being lacks human dignity.

It is possible to be treated in ways inconsistent with one’s dignity. It is possible to lose sight of one’s own dignity. But actual human dignity is never lost. Part of the work of medicine is to aid in maintaining one’s sense of dignity, and to restore that sense of dignity if it is ever endangered.

So watch out for those who would pit dignity against disability, disease, or any kind of suffering. It is false and it is dangerous.

Image by Leonard J Matthews via flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Belgium Euthanizes Child

Belgium’s euthanasia law was expanded to apply to those under the age of 18 in 2014, and the first child to be euthanized under that expansion died within the past week. Because it involves a minor child, very few details are available.

Let us be very clear: such an act is not a legitimate part of the practice of medicine on any level. Not for physicians, for nurses, for pharmacists, not for anyone. The practice of medicine is to seek to heal, to care, to comfort, and to suffer with. It is never ever to kill.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide (or so-called “aid in dying”) corrupt medicine, undermine the viability of suicide prevention efforts by sending a mixed societal message, and threaten the lives and equal societal status of the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

For more see our issue overview of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia and/or download our 3 Things You Should Know About Physician Assisted Suicide (PDF).

Image by anthony kelly via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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