ABORTION RIGHTS IN SEARCH OF ABORTION DOCTORS

A new generation of abortion specialists is springing up in the US, according to the , energised by the plight of women who have to travel miles and miles to find a doctor willing to do terminations. "It doesn't matter what you believe if you don't back it up with action," says Michelle Cleeves, a medical student at the University of Colorado. "The right to abortion doesn't mean anything if women don't have access."

The question is whether there will be enough enthusiasts to offset a sharp decline in numbers. Although abortion is said to be one f the most common surgical procedures in the US, the number of providers has fallen for decades. It dropped 37% between 1982 and 2000, with the number of abortions reportedly dropping by 17%.

The Guttmacher Institute, which is associated with Planned Parenthood, says that there were only 1,800 abortion providers in the US in 2000 -- compared with 6,200 plastic surgeons, 9,700 dermatologists… click here to read whole article and make comments





DISPUTE OVER HUGE EXPERIMENT WITHOUT INFORMED CONSENT

The US government is undertaking an ambitious US$50 million project over five years to conduct emergency medical treatment without obtaining consent from patients. It will involve more than 20,000 people in 11 sites across the US and Canada.

Although consent is a basic principle of contemporary bioethics, it can be difficult to get it from people involved in accidents, shootings and heart attacks. For instance, in one experiment, medics will test which is the more effective treatment for cardiac arrests by randomly infused some patients with "hypertonic" solutions containing high levels of sodium, with or without the drug dextran. Other studies have suggested that hypertonic solutions could save more lives and minimise brain damage.

To allay fears of the public, researchers will conduct a "community consultation" process at each site. Anyone who objects will be provided with a special bracelet to alert medical workers.

Even bioethicists are divided on the issue. "This just seems like lazy investigators not wanting to… click here to read whole article and make comments





KEVORKIAN TO BE PAROLED

America's icon of assisted suicide, Jack Kevorkian, will be able to celebrate his 79th birthday in relative freedom next week. After eight years in a Michigan jail for helping a man with Lou Gehrig's disease to die, he will be paroled on June 1. His attorney says that Kevorkian is a very sick man who suffers from Hepatitis C and hardening of the arteries in the temples. His client has vowed not to break the law again. Instead he will focus on educating the public about his position on assisted suicide.

Kevorkian has become something of a hero for the voluntary euthanasia movement, especially after being jailed. "You'd be surprised at how many people have written to me and offered to have him stay at their homes when he gets out of prison," says his lawyer. "The man is an icon, but that's neither here nor there." click here to read whole article and make comments





BOTCHED EXECUTION

The notion that any form of the death penalty must be considered "cruel and unusual punishment" has received a boost from the execution of 37-year-old Christopher Newton in the American state of Ohio. The 265-pound man had been condemned to death for murdering a prison cell mate in 2001. He insisted that he wanted to die and made no attempt to appeal his sentence.

His execution took two hours -- so long that he was given a bathroom break during the process. The execution team stuck him at least 10 times with needles to insert the shunts for a lethal injection. He laughed and chatted with the prison staff throughout the process. click here to read whole article and make comments





UK TO LOOSEN FERTILITY CONTROLS

 After months of consultation, the British government has released a draft overhaul of its contentious fertility legislation. Many significant changes have been made, but the bellwether issue is the creation of chimeras, or hybrid animal-human embryos. Although there had been signs that the government would ban these, the proposed legislation allows them. Health Minister Caroline Flint denied that it had caved in to pressure from scientists and patient groups. She said that the government always wanted to leave the door open to such research and that scientists had made a strong case for it.

Scientists were pleased, although Dr Stephen Minger, head of the stem cell team at King's College London, lamented that Parliament was too involved. Only scientific and ethical experts were competent to regulate the fast-moving field of embryonic research. "This system of a panel of scientists, bioethicists, lawyers and informed lay members... has always worked perfectly well. It's the only way to do it. What we… click here to read whole article and make comments





CHINESE WRESTLE WITH BIOETHICS STANDARDS

A leading Chinese social scientist has praised his country's efforts to create and implement bioethical standards for research involving human subjects. Qiu Renzong, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in Beijing, says that new principles adopted in January "successfully fit ethical review within the country's own laws and regulations while also abiding by international bioethical principles. They clearly state that the process of ethical review should be independent, objective, just and transparent."

Mr Qiu says that some of his countrymen wanted to do their research without constraints in order to catch up to more developed countries and ethicists. But, he says, this is both wrong and dangerous. Wrong, because ethics do not necessarily impede progress; and dangerous because science could lose public support if it tramples on ethics. Interestingly, the ethical principles he praises seem to be a fusion of Confucian principles with American pragmatism -- not Marxism.

A shrill opponent of the regime, the Epoch Times newspaper, which… click here to read whole article and make comments





COMMERCIAL SURROGACY IN CHINA

In the absence of clear legislation, a Chinese entrepreneur has set up a nationwide network of surrogacy offices, with more than 120 surrogate mothers. Liu Baojin, the 28-year-old founder of daiyun.com, says that surrogacy is ethical and legal in China. He says that he gets at least 10,000 yuan for each successful match. The surrogate mother, if educated, could earn about 70,000.

However, since Chinese law does prohibit IVF clinics from engaging in surrogacy, Mr Liu's surrogate pregnancies are achieved in the old-fashioned way, leaving him open to criticism for immorality. Liu Zhijun, a sociologist at Zhejiang University, says that surrogacy corrupts social morals and violates human rights. It often ends in tragedy, with extra-marital affairs, family disputes and even crime. click here to read whole article and make comments





PARENTS OF DOWN SYNDROME CHILDREN WORRY ABOUT     THEIR FUTURE IN PERFECT WO

 With 90% of pregnant women aborting a Down syndrome child after a positive prenatal test, American parents of Down syndrome children are turning into activists to protect their children's future. According to a special report in the New York Times, a dwindling Down syndrome population -- now about 350,000 in the US -- could mean less institutional support and reduced funding. Even though many of these parents describe themselves as pro-choice, they oppose eugenics. "For me, it's just faces disappearing," says a New Jersey mother. "It isn't about abortion politics or religion; its a pure ethical question." A number of people are asking doctors to send them couples who an abortion so that they can meet their children.

They have a greater sense of urgency after the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended in January that all women, regardless of age, be offered a new screening test to detect Down syndrome early in a pregnancy. Although critics term… click here to read whole article and make comments





... AND PRO-CHOICE ADVOCATES WORRY, TOO

Genetic testing is shaking the mindset even of abortion advocates, says the New York Times. Although 70% of Americans would support women who terminate a pregnancy if a child has a serious genetic defect, all but the staunchest supporters of pro-choice policies question whether any defect whatsoever is reason enough. The problem is that the pro-choice stand is colliding with a commitment to tolerance of human difference. And now that tests make it possible to select for late-onset diseases like breast cancer or arthritis, and may some day make it possible to select for intelligence or eye colour -- not to mention sex -- pro-choice disability advocates are finding hard to draw the line.

"It so buys into this consumer perspective on our children," says Marsha Saxton, of the World Institute on Disability, in Oakland, an abortion-rights supporter.

Some religious conservatives say that they trust God to give them the child that is meant to be," wrote Ann Althouse, a… click here to read whole article and make comments





SHOOTOUT AT TRANSPLANT HOSPITAL LANDS     ISRAELI SURGEON IN JAIL

 To the great embarrassment of the Israel Transplantation Society, one of the country's leading surgeons was arrested in Istanbul in the aftermath of a shootout with police. Some reports said that five people died in the gun battle at an illegal organ transplant clinic, although this is unclear. The incident occurred when police stormed a private hospital to capture four gunmen who had tried to steal cash from black market organ dealings.

As they were being bundled into police cars, the gunmen told local reporters that the hospital had promised to pay a friend for donating some of his organs, but never did.

Professor Zaki Shapira was just a bystander in the gun battle, but he was arrested for participating in illegal organ trading. Police found four patients, two of them apparently Israeli Arabs suspected of selling their kidneys, plus an Israeli and a South African who had bought the kidneys.

Professor Shapira was a… click here to read whole article and make comments




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