Emily Anthes on drug testing and pregnancy
Because it has long been considered unethical to include expectant mothers in clinical trials, scientists simply don’t know whether many common medicines are safe for pregnant women. Of the more than 600 prescription drugs that the US Food and Drug Administration approved between 1980 and 2010, 91 per cent have been so meagrely researched that their safety during pregnancy remains uncertain.
Over the last few years, however, a small, tight-knit group of ethicists, including Lyerly, have become determined to reverse this longstanding scientific neglect of pregnant women. Science and society, they argue, have got it utterly wrong: our efforts to protect women and their fetuses have actually put them both in jeopardy. “Ethics doesn’t preclude including pregnant women in research,” says Lyerly. “Actually, ethics requires it.”
"If an NHS trust proposed today that it was going to introduce Viagra sales reps into men's genitourinary wards, or reps for walking aids to orthopaedic wards, the very least you'd expect would be some stout resistance. It is a measure of the strength of the association between "motherhood" and "buying stuff" that the presence of commercial representatives on maternity wards has been tolerated for so long."[more inside]
The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
Couples from Western countries, such as Australia, the US, and the UK are turning to surrogates in India to carry their babies. [more inside]
Provoking pro-choice advocates, Oklahoma passed two highly restrictive abortion laws on Tuesday. One (rtf file) requires doctors to show women an ultrasound of their fetus and point out its physical characteristics — even if the patient was impregnated through rape or incest. The second (rtf file) stipulates that doctors cannot be sued if they decide to lie to an expectant mother regarding her baby's birth defects. A third requires clinics to post signs telling patients they cannot be forced to have an abortion. The first law prompted an immediate lawsuit from Tulsa's only abortion clinic. [more inside]
The ethics of infertility: After taking fertility drug Clomid, Ryan and Brianna Morrison conceived sextuplets. Their religious beliefs steered them away from undergoing a selective reduction procedure in favor of bringing all six fetuses to term. Four of their newborns have died; the remaining two are in critical condition. This mother of multiples says that while she's grateful that insurance and Medicaid covered her million-dollar hospital bill, her "quest to have a family resulted in a significant drain on society's resources."