Germans and British make up the bulk of the numbers, with neurological conditions, such paralysis, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis, accounting for almost half of the cases, the findings show.
611 non-residents had been helped to die between 2008 and 2012, all but four of whom had gone to Dignitas. Their ages ranged from 23 to 97, with the average being 69; over half (58.5%) of the ‘tourists’ were women, who were 40% more likely to choose assisted suicide in Switzerland than men.
How to deal with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa seems to be splitting bioethicists. Some applaud the World Health Organisation's recent decision to allow experimental drugs to be released "for compassionate use". For Arthur Caplan, of New York University Langone Medical Center, this seems to be the right decision:
"In a plague that kills 90% of its African victims complaints about unwarranted exploitative research seem a bit ridiculous even against a long history of misuse and abuse of poor desperate persons in poor African nations."
However, bioethicists Ezekiel Emanuel, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Annette Rid, of King's College London, want to be a bit more restrictive about "compassionate use" and believe that experimental drugs are not the main way to beat the disease. In an article in The Lancet, they write:
The war between Hamas in Gaza and Israel has been treated very gingerly by most of the major medical journals. Except The Lancet. This prestigious British publication ran an incendiary letter from a score and more of academics and doctors with Palestinian sympathies and subsequently a strong defence of its editorial policy.
“It is surely the duty of doctors to have informed views, even strong views, about these matters; to give a voice to those who have no voice; and to invite society to address the actions and injustices that have led to this conflict. Our responsibility is to promote an open and diverse discussion about the effects of this war on civilian health.”
There are currently over 123,000 people in the US on the organ donation waiting list. Only 29,000 organ transplants took place in 2013 – a consequence of the dire shortage of organ donors.
A number of healthcare commentators are now calling for ‘compensation’ for donors.
Sally Satel of the American Enterprise Institute believes that some form of monetary incentive is the only way to address the donor shortage: “altruism, as a strategy, is simply not producing enough organs. It needs to be supplemented with compensated donation”.
Alan Langnas of the University of Nebraska and Daniel R. Solomon of the Scripps Research Institute make a similar argument.
“Organ donors, and in particular the live kidney donor, are being asked to altruistically support a system with sizable financial costs to themselves. These costs represent a considerable disincentive to organ donation. To begin to move the dial on this we…
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An revealing new study in the Journal of Medical Ethics examines the attitudes of medical students towards conscientious objection. The study, conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Oslo, canvased the views of 531 fifth and sixth year medical students in Norway. Students were asked about a range of procedures including abortion, euthanasia, ultrasound in the setting of prenatal diagnosis and assisted reproduction for same sex-couples. Students views varied significantly depending on the issue.
62% of respondents said they would object to participating in euthanasia – a surprisingly high proportion considering that the majority of Norwegians are said to support legalising euthanasia.
A far smaller number said they would object to participating in abortions (between 12.5% and 19%, depending on the stage of pregnancy and whether the foetus had disabilities).
A British cosmetic surgeon has been struck off for putting commercial interests before patient care.
The UK’s Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service found that Dr. Krishna Murthi Nulliah of Harley Health Clinic had “subordinated his proper responsibilities as a doctor to the pursuit of a commercial enterprise.”
Four women who had attended Dr. Nulliah’s clinic testified to various instances of misconduct. Dr. Nulliah failed to adequately examine patients, take a proper history, or obtain informed consent.
All four patients reported that he had failed to discuss the risks of surgery or alternatives such as dieting and exercise. When one patient said that she wanted more time to consider, Nulliah told her that his diary was booking up quickly and that she would need to leave a 50% deposit to secure the date.
He offered another patient a discount if she opted for more extensive surgery than originally requested.
Iran is to ban vasectomies and female sterilization in an effort to reverse its plummeting birth rate and ageing population. A bill has passed parliament and only remains to be approved by the Guardian Council. Doctors who perform procedures such as vasectomies or tubal ligation, could face fines and prison sentences. Journalists will also be prosecuted if they publicise birth control or other family planning measures.
The bill follows years of concern by Iran’s rulers about its demography. After the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the government encouraged large families. Afterwards, however, a big population was regarded as a drag on development. The government promoted contraception, so much so that the birth rate fell from about 6.0 to less than 2.0.
Dear old Dick Dawkins is in hot water again after asserting on Twitter that it is “immoral” to allow Down Syndrome babies to be born. Dawkins, a popular genetist, campaigner for atheism and the former Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, found it a bit difficult to explain the subtler points of his thought in the 140-character limit of tweets.
However, he appears to have embraced Peter Singer’s version of utilitarianism, animal rights and veganism. He said that the central question in the abortion debate was not “is it 'human'?" but "can it suffer?”. He went on to insist that people should object to abortion if they eat meat.
who is more susceptible to euthanasia or assisted suicide?
In the on-going debate over euthanasia, there are seldom any new arguments. A favourite of those in favour of legalisation argue that the wishes of people who are competent and able to make a rational choice deserve to have their autonomy respected. A favourite of those against contend that the vulnerable – the poor, the disabled and the elderly – will be victimised.
One strand of evidence favours euthanasia supporters. In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, most of the people who take advantage of it, according to the figures for 2013 are white (94%), male (62%) and well-educated (53% with a college degree). There are no estimates of income, but well-educated white males tend to be wealthier than average and, significantly, not vulnerable.
Adoption and new reproduction technologies are placing new strains on what “parent” means in contemporary society. Because of “the evidence of family diversity and children’s views about who is a parent”, the Council has recommended that the word “parent” be replaced by “other significant adults” or “other people of significance to the child” and that references to “both” (which implies only two) parents should be omitted.
There are many kinds of parents, the Council points out: legal, adoptive, genetic, intending, psychological, social and surrogate, amongst others.