The average payment in the US for egg donation was US$4,217, according to a recent article in the journal Fertility and Sterility. However, at least one centre told the authors that it paid $15,000 for eggs and stories abound of college students being paid tens of thousands of dollars. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has set guidelines which stipulate that payments of $5,000 or more "require justification" and that payments over $10,000 are not appropriate.

No one is comfortable with payments for eggs, an invasive and uncomfortable process at best, and painful and dangerous at worst. Little research has been done on the long-term effects of fertility drugs.

Bioethicists also worry whether the allure of dollars to cover college fees or credit card bills might cloud young women's judgement. "We hear about egg donors being paid enormous amounts of money, $50,000 or $60,000," Josephine Johnston, of The Hastings Center told the New York Times. "How much is that person… click here to read whole article and make comments


 A US$1.25 billion spending package has been unveiled to make Massachusetts a major centre for embryonic stem cell research. in Boston that the funds would be used for grants for university and hospital scientists, special research centres, training biotech workers and so on. He also plans to create a stem cell bank for Massachusetts stem cell lines which could be used by scientists around the world.

In many ways the health of this industry and the health of our society are very closely linked," Mr Patrick said. "That's why we will not rest on our laurels." The huge amount will be made up of $1 billion in state money over 10 years, some borrowed through bond issues, plus $250 million in matching funds from private investors.

Despite the moral controversies hovering over embryonic stem cell research, several states are digging deep to support it. California has a $3 billion program, although at the moment it is mired… click here to read whole article and make comments


Euthanasia campaigners in the UK are commemorating the fifth anniversary of the death of Diane Pretty. She suffered from motor neurone disease and in 2002 died after losing a long legal battle to seek immunity from prosecution for her husband so that he could help her commit suicide.

To mark the occasion, activists released figures about an increase in the number of Britons who are travelling to Switzerland to seek out a suicide clinic in Zurich run by the group Dignitas. In all 76 have died there. About 14 a year made the trip in 2003, 2004 and 2005, but the figure rose to more than 30 in 2006. click here to read whole article and make comments


 An editorial in the British Medical Journal has dismissed calls for the non-voluntary euthanasia of newborn babies. Professor Kate Costeloe, of the University of London, argues that the treatment options for severely disabled babies is improving in the UK. "The availability of active euthanasia as a therapeutic option would undermine this progress and be a step backwards," she writes. Euthanasia would only make sense for newborns if "the futility of continued treatment is certain". However, predictions that babies will end up severely disabled are not foolproof. "Clinicians... have to live with the probability that they have occasionally allowed a baby to die who would have thrived."

However, Professor Costeloe seems to have few reservations about withholding life support or actively withdrawing it for severely malformed children.

The topic has popped up because in the Netherlands, it has become effectively legal to actively kill seriously ill or malformed babies. This is believed to take place about 10 to… click here to read whole article and make comments


 After a long and heated debate in the state parliament, Victoria has become to allow therapeutic cloning. The Premier, Steve Bracks, boarded a plane for Boston immediately after the final vote. There he attended the biotechnology conference at which the governor of Massachusetts announced a US$1.25 billion biotech package.

Mr Bracks plans to promote Victoria as an investment location by highlighting its expertise in medical research and biotech. "We have great capacity and ability to find cures for some of the intractable diseases of the world," he told reporters. "And we're close to finding some of those."

click here to read whole article and make comments


A company has begun to market sex selection kits over the internet in Britain. that couples can determine the sex of their baby at just six weeks from a finger-prick of blood. It says that the test, which costs ?189, is 99% accurate and that it will give refunds after wrong predictions.

Pro-life groups warned that customers would abort children simply because they were the wrong sex. Even the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists stated that it "strongly believes that sex selection for non medical purposes is inappropriate". However, the company strongly denies this view of its product: it simply allows parents more time to plan for their baby, it insists.

A similar kit appeared a couple of years ago in the US. Baby Gender Mentor was marketed to "the type of woman who can't wait to open Christmas presents". However a number of women launched a class action suit complaining that the test had failed. They also alleged… click here to read whole article and make comments


Adding to the number of conditions for which embryos can be designed for nervous parents who want a healthy baby, the possibility of screening for squinting. Both the father-to-be and his father have a condition called congenital fibrosis of the extra- occular muscles. This causes the eyes to look in a different direction from the direction of the face. The UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, has given the London Bridge Clinic a green light to select an embryo without the faulty gene for the condition.

The director of Human Genetics Alert, Dr David King, was critical of the decision. "I really do think that this has gone a good deal too far because this condition, despite being, admittedly, perhaps somewhat disabling, doesn't shorten life in any way. The HFEA has ignored public opinion and has ignored its own rules which say that PGD should only be allowed for serious medical conditions." click here to read whole article and make comments

Plastic immortality grows in popularity

 Want to get plastinated? This is not an invitation to a boozy night out, but a novel way disposing of your mortal remains. Your body will be be preserved, dissected and displayed in globe-trotting exhibitions. For some it is an appealing option., thousands of people have willed their bodies to the world's foremost plastinator, Dr Guther von Hagens, and his Body Worlds anatomy exhibit.

Although von Hagens originated the concept in 1977 -- body fluids are replaced by liquid plastic which hardens and allows the bodies to be displayed in their natural colour and without formaldehyde -- he now has competitors, mostly from China. They also tour the world with flayed mannequins posing as frozen sportsmen with vital organs in public view. A rival exhibit using Chinese corpses is touring Australia at the moment.

Surprisingly, some people want to seek a kind of immortality by joining the show. Since 1983, when von Hagens launched his donations program, 7,652 people have… click here to read whole article and make comments


Barbara Walters's program 20/20 on the American ABC network is not famed for its nuanced presentations of complex topics. So its lurid coverage of transgender six-year-olds gives an insight into the kind of bioethical advice that the public is receiving. What 20/20 found was that hundreds of American families with troubled children have discovered each other on the internet and are creating a movement for acceptance of children who feel that they are locked into a body with the wrong sex.

Jazz Jennings is one of the children featured on the show. Now six, he (although 20/20 insisted on calling Jazz "she") has felt that he was a girl since he began to talk. After consulting medical textbooks and doctors, his parents decided to let him live as a girl, with frilly dresses and pink and purple sheets. They even had a kind of "coming-out" ceremony, when he had a pool party for his fifth birthday and wore a girl's… click here to read whole article and make comments


 General Electric Co has come under the spotlight in the Wall Street Journal for supplying Indian doctors with the ultrasound machines which enable sex-selective abortions. GE is the market leader in these products through a joint venture with the Indian multinational Wipro Ltd. Other vendors in the US$77 million Indian market include Toshiba, Siemens, Philips, and a Chinese firm, Mindray International Medical. Sales rose 10% in 2006.

The Indian government and women's rights activists are targeting doctors using ultrasounds to reduce the number of female abortions. The government banned sex selection in 1994, although this does not seem to have straightened up an increasingly skewed sex ratio. It now requires any clinic with an ultrasound machine to register with the local government and to provide an affidavit that it will not conduct sex selection. So far, more than 30,000 ultrasound machines have been registered.

GE insists that it is complying with the law. It has educated its… click here to read whole article and make comments

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