April
11
 

Belgian intensive care doctors back involuntary euthanasia

 

Involuntary euthanasia is acceptable medical treatment, according to a recent official statement by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Although voluntary euthanasia is legal is Belgium under some circumstances, involuntary euthanasia is basically illegal. But the Society wants to be able to euthanase patients who do not appear to have long to live.

The Society spells out its policy very carefully. It is not about grey areas like withdrawing burdensome or futile treatment or balancing pain relief against shortening a patient’s life. It clearly states that “shortening the dying process by administering sedatives beyond what is needed for patient comfort can be not only acceptable but in many cases desirable”.

“Shortening the dying process” is a euphemism for administering a lethal injection.

Most dying patients in intensive care have not made advance directives and “are usually not in a position to request euthanasia”. Therefore, “difficulty… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
April
12
 

To freeze perchance to live

Cryonics is the branch of cryogenics that concerns the freezing and preservation of deceased human beings in the hope that healing and resuscitation will be possible in the future. The cryogenics 'movement' is more widespread than most would think. The number of cryogenically frozen human bodies worldwide was estimated at 270 in 2013. There are seven major cryonics companies around the world - the majority in the US - and some of these companies are growing rapidly. The process is illegal in some countries, for example France, but authorities generally allow for bodies to be transported to other countries where corpse disposal laws are not as strict. Cryonicists claim that frozen persons are not actually dead, but rather in a temporary quiescent state. The video above provides an interesting insight into the process, as well as some of the bioethical issues. 

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
April
12
 

British woman ‘weary of modern life’ euthanased in Switzerland

A retired British art teacher has had herself euthanased in Switzerland, citing weariness of the modern world. The woman, asking to be identified only by her Christian name Anne, made use of the assisted suicide service offered by Dignitas, in Zurich, after deciding that it was futile to “struggle against the current” of modern life.

Anne was gravely concerned about the commercialisation and dehumanisation of society. She felt that computers and social media had taken humanity out of our interactions, and was appalled at comfort-seeking short-cuts that people took in modern life. In an interview with the Sunday Times shortly before her death, Anne said:

“They say adapt or die. At my age, I feel that I can’t adapt, because the new age is not an age that I grew up to understand. I see everything as cutting corners. All the old-fashioned ways of doing things have… click here to read whole article and make comments



 
April
12
 

The Lancet sounds alarm over care of the elderly

The Lancet has published an alarming editorial about the pressure on healthcare systems from an growing elderly population. The article examines the various factors that are contributing to an 'elderly care crisis'. The key issue is demographic -- the proportion of people aged over 60 years will double from about 11% to 22% between 2000 and 2050. In addition, Western nations such as Britain have significantly cut funding to elderly care in recent years. As noted in the Age UK report Crisis in Care 2014, public funding for older people's social care fell by a massive £1·2 billion (15·4% in real terms) between 2010—11 and 2013—14, even though it had been stagnant between 2005 and 2010.

The authors are concerned particularly for middle to low income countries such as China, which face the same issues as the US and the UK, but with less funding to address it.… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
April
12
 

Action needed on US doctors’ involvement in torture

Human rights activist Leonard Rubenstein has called for the release of the report on CIA torture of detainees compiled by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). The report, a 6000-page account of the use of 'enhanced torture techniques' under the Bush administration, was completed in 2012, but has so far been withheld from the public due to CIA claims of factual inaccuracy.

Rubenstein, a former president of Physicians for Human Rights, believes it imperative that a revised version be released. It will enable Congress and the medical community to address the participation of medical personnel in torture:

“The Senate’s report probably will shed more light on the CIA’s shameful enlistment of doctors in the torture of detainees, a profound violation of the doctors’ duty to do no harm. By doing so, it can awaken the medical community and Congress to the need to devise… click here to read whole article and make comments



 
April
11
 

Kevorkian’s paintings up for sale

America’s best-known practitioner of euthanasia, Jack Kevorkian, was also an artist. After his death in 2011, the ownership of his painting was disputed. However, the legal wrangling is over and 11 of his canvases are for sale at a West Hollywood art gallery. "He was a talented amateur," curator Lee Bowers told CNN. "He painted throughout much of his life."

His “thanatron” is also for sale – the machine which he used to help people to die. The asking price is US$25,000.

The paintings may give some insight into the mind of Kevorkian, a doctor who claimed that he had helped 130 people to die over 20 years. In 1999 he was finally convicted of second-degree murder in Michigan and jailed for eight years.

Kevorkian’s style is bold and expressionistic, with garish colours and dramatic, nightmarish images. “Coma” depicts a prone patient being sucked into a… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
April
11
 

Euthanasia off the boil in Quebec

Euthanasia may be off the legislative agenda in Quebec for a while. In the April 7 election, the Parti Quebecois (PQ), which had championed it, was thrashed. It lost 24 seats and has been reduced to a distant second place. The Liberals, led by Philippe Couillard, now have 70 seats and a comfortable majority.

The PQ, led by Pauline Marois (who lost her seat), was backing euthanasia, a secularist charter of values, stricter language legislation and sovereignty. Its defiantly separatist agenda now appears to have been a mistake. As Couillard said in March, the PQ “continues to present Quebecers as weak, besieged, threatened people. When it’s not the federal government, it’s the other provinces. When it’s not the federal government or the other provinces, it is foreigners who come to live here. And when it’s not the foreigners living here, it is us, Quebecers who don’t think like them. I’m… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
April
11
 

New service creates virtual babies for worried mothers

An American businesswoman and an Ivy League scientist have teamed up to create a sophisticated service for reducing genetic diseases for lesbian couples and single women. Anne Morriss and Lee Silver, of Princeton, have founded Genepeeks, a company which will identify the sperm donors who have the best chance of producing a disease-free baby.

Using Silver’s patented gene analysis technology, Matchright, Genepeeks will create "virtual babies" for the woman and a range of possible sperm donors and screen out donors with a flawed genetic profile. Matchright screens for hundreds of diseases, but also other features, like eye colour and height. Morriss and Silver insist, however, that the technology will not be used to create genetically engineered children.

However, Silver, the author of pop science books like Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning Will Transform the American Family (1998) and Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
April
11
 

Tearful apology from Obokata

Nikkan Sports' coverage of stem cells / Kotaku

The Japanese woman at the centre of the latest stem cell scandal, Haruko Obokata, apologised tearfully for her “carelessness, ignorance and immaturity” at a press conference this week. But she insists that her “stimulus-triggered activation of pluripotency” (STAP) cells do exist. She claims that she had created them 200 times before publishing a paper in Nature which has come under fire for its flawed data.

Her employer, the world-famous RIKEN Institute has accused her of academic misconduct after an internal investigation. But Obokata is seeking a new investigation by outsiders. “I would also like to emphasize there was no deceptive motive in my completing these articles, given that legitimate experiments were conducted, and that there exists solid data as a direct result,” she told the press conference.

The Japanese media has been having a… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
April
05
 

Stem cell debacle déjà vu

Haruko Obokata in better times (via LA Times)     

Once again, a major advance in stem cell science has been tainted by allegations of fraud. A leading research centre in Japan, the RIKEN Institute, has apologised for “research misconduct” by a young scientist who published a paper in Nature in January which described an exciting new method for producing pluripotent stem cells.

The ease of the method astonished stem cell biologists, but no one was able to replicate the results and careful scrutiny of the paper soon revealed some troubling problems. It revived painful memories of the notorious Hwang Woo-suk and the fraudulent stem cell papers he published in 2005 in the journal Science.

Haruko Obokata now stands accused of misusing images to support the creation of what she and her colleagues termed “stimulus-triggered activation of pluripotency” (STAP) cells. She admits… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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Belgian intensive care doctors back involuntary euthanasia
11 Apr 2014
To freeze perchance to live
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British woman ‘weary of modern life’ euthanased in Switzerland
12 Apr 2014
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12 Apr 2014
Action needed on US doctors’ involvement in torture
12 Apr 2014

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