Swedish woman ‘recycles’ her mother’s womb

Emilie, Albin and Marie    

A Swedish woman has given birth to a son using the womb of her own mother. Emelie Eriksson, 30, was born without a womb and thought that she would never be able to have a child of her own. But when she learned of the pioneering work of Swedish doctor Matts Brannstrom, she realized that it might be possible. Brannstrom is the only doctor in the world to conducted successful womb transplants. So far, five of his patients have given birth.

Her mother Marie, who is 53, volunteered to help her. She told her daughter, “'I'm so old, I don't need my womb and I don't want any more children. This is your only chance to have a child and you should take it'."

This means that Marie’s uterus carried both her daughter and her grandson.

The birth… click here to read whole article and make comments

A speed hump on the road to evidence-based bioethics

There have been calls to base bioethics more firmly on empirical analysis “to promote more balanced, and evidence-based, bioethics”. Ideally, this would do away with the need for woolly, unverifiable normative discourse.

However, an article in Royal Society Open Science should make bioethicists think twice about this. Paul Smaldino, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Merced, and a colleague argue that “In fields such as psychology, neuroscience and medicine, practices that increase false discoveries remain not only common, but normative”. From this shocking assertion he goes on to argue that a natural selection leads not to truth, but to bad science.

some of the most powerful incentives in contemporary science actively encourage, reward and propagate poor research methods and abuse of statistical procedures. We term this process the natural selection of bad science to indicate that it requires no conscious strategizing nor cheating on… click here to read whole article and make comments

Is immortality just a pipe dream?

Jeanne Calment, our oldest 

An article in Nature has cast a wet blanket on the dreams of immortality researchers. An analysis of global demographic data by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine suggests that the limit to human lifespan is about 125 years. Maximum lifespans kept rising until the 1980s, but they seem to have hit a plateau at about 120. The longest-lived person on record is Jeanne Calment, a French woman who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years, 164 days. The probability of a person celebrating her 126th birthday in any given year is less than 1 in 10,000.

The paper, which was based on two international lists of the world’s oldest people, has created a controversy. On statistical grounds, it was dismissed as “a travesty” by German demographer James Vaupel. And gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, who has been… click here to read whole article and make comments

Cotard’s Syndrome and bioethics

Bioethicists spend a lot of time writing about patients who want to die. But what about those who think they are already dead?

Cotard’s Syndrome is a rare mental condition that has among its symptoms delusions of being dead or not existing, and the sensation that one’s blood and internal organs are putrefying. The condition, which is typically found in people already suffering from mood or psychotic disorders, has received significant attention in the popular media, in addition to being the subject of various interdisciplinary enquiries.

The condition is believed to be associated with cognitive-malfunction in regard to awareness of one’s person and body.

The Syndrome has significance for the field of philosophy, and in particular, understanding the popularity of sceptical lines of thought in the history of ideas. The condition may also may provide significant insights for the development… click here to read whole article and make comments

The Netherlands, compulsory contraception, and reverse democracy

Rotterdam City Council wants to administer compulsory contraception for “vulnerable women”, saying that birth control is a form of “child protection”.

Counsellor Hugo De Jonge, an alderman responsible for youth welfare in Rotterdam, said that compulsory contraception will prevent children being born to women who are manifestly unfit for parenting.

"[the proposal] concerns children who are born into families where it turns everybody’s stomach to think that they’re having a child. Our primary concern used to be the interests of the parents, but now we pay more attention to the interests of the child. Not being born is a form of child protection too."

State Secretary for Health Martin Van Rijn said his ministry is studying whether federal laws should be amended to allow for the provision of involuntary contraceptives. The ministry currently has no position on the issue, though a number of high… click here to read whole article and make comments

DC debates euthanasia

The Council of the District of Columbia is set to debate euthanasia legislation later this month, after a five member Committee on Health and Human Services this week approved a draft euthanasia bill.

The bill was sponsored by Councillor Mary Cheh, who believes the State “should not stand in the way” of someone wishing to “peacefully” end their life.

The bill would allow D.C. patients, at least 18 years old, who are terminally ill and expected to die within six months to obtain a prescription from a physician for a death-inducing drug.

The Washington Post has expressed its support for the proposed legislation, saying that “the District should add its name to the list of places that offer their citizens compassion and control at life’s end.”

Yet a number of bioethicists have voiced concern about the risks entailed by legislative reform.… click here to read whole article and make comments

Oderberg on contraceptives, abortion and cooperation in wrongdoing

Conscientious objection has long been a cause of controversy in bioethics, and has the topic has received significant attention in recent months.

David Oderberg, a moral philosopher from the University of Reading, has weighed into the debate with a sophisticated analysis of the “increasingly important issue of cooperation in immoral actions”.

In a new article in the Journal of Medical Ethics,Oderberg outlines a “set of principles that courts can apply” to cases concerning cooperation in wrongdoing -- drawing in particular upon concepts developed, though not exclusive to, the Catholic moral theological tradition.

Oderberg suggests that an appeal to the principle of double effect (PDE) can give us just the sort of jurisprudential system we need.

“The basic idea is that the fundamental principle of practical reasoning is to do good and avoid doing bad, but unless this principle requires more than can… click here to read whole article and make comments

Argentina a new destination for fertility tourists

Argentina, the home of Pope Francis, has become a surprising destination for fertility tourism. Since 2013, the government has subsidised IVF for everyone, including gays and single women. In the United States, a single cycle of IVF can cost as much as US$15-30,000; in Argentina, $4-7,000. People seeking donor eggs and cheap IVF are coming from as far away as the US and Australia, as well as other South American countries. 

click here to read whole article and make comments

More hospital bombings in Syria

Médecins Sans Frontières has called for an end to Syrian and Allied bombing in the city of Aleppo after two major hospitals were bombed out of service. Massive airstrikes earlier in the week devastated the city's eastern quarter, and led to doctors closing the two largest hospitals in the area.

The hospitals, known as 'M2' and 'M10' to obscure their location, were estimated to serve a quarter of a million Syrians.

Health workers say the Wednesday morning bombing killed two staff members at M2 and also a civilian whose heart was pierced by shrapnel. The hospital’s intensive care unit was extensively damaged, as were power generators, fuel storage and water tanks that kept the hospital running. The M10 hospital was similarly affected, and suffered further damage on Saturday from barrel bombs, witnesses say.

The Assad regime vehemently denies responsibility,… click here to read whole article and make comments

Baby born from three parent technique

American doctors have announced the first successful birth of a baby conceived using Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT) -- a controversial new assisted reproductive technique. A team of doctors based in the US travelled to Mexico to perform the experimental procedure on a Jordanian couple who had previously given birth to children with severe genetic disorders.

MRT involves the transfer of 'healthy' mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from a donor into the egg of a mother known to have unhealthy mtDNA. The two most popular methods of transfer are known as pronuclear transfer, which has been approved for use in the UK,  and spindle nuclear transfer, which was performed on the couple in question.

The baby boy was born without any detectable genetic conditions. Two earlier children born to the couple suffered from Leigh Syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the developing nervous system.

The pregnancy was… click here to read whole article and make comments

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