Paternity presumption threatens same-sex marriage


Sheena and Tiara Yates   

Despite the advance of same-sex marriage in the US, it may be some time before the law is scrubbed clean of the presumption that a male/female relationship constitutes a family.

A legally-married lesbian couple in New Jersey, Sheena and Tiara Yates, are fighting requests for visitation rights from their two children’s biological fathers.

Both men had signed written agreements that they would not interfere at all in raising the children. But after the births, they reneged. Unfortunately for the couple, New Jersey supports the presumption of paternity by the biological fathers. It does allow the extinction of paternal rights, but only if the sperm donation is performed under the supervision of a doctor. The agreements made by the women, however, were informal and thus unenforceable.

"Emotionally it's very hard for us," Sheena Yates told the media. "All… click here to read whole article and make comments


Disgraced researcher Hwang Woo-suk teams up with US scientist

One of the world’s leading stem cell scientists has entered a partnership with the disgraced Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk to pursue cloning research in China, Science reports.

Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, was the first to successfully derive stem cells from a cloned human embryo in 2013. A South Korean newspaper, Dong-A Ilbo,  has revealed that he will be working with Hwang on both animal and human cloning.

Hwang came undone in 2006 after it was discovered that two papers he had published claiming that he had created human embryonic stem cells were bogus. He was convicted of fraud and bioethics violations but received a suspended sentence. For many Koreans, he is still a hero.

Mitalipov's "strength is in primate stem cells,” Hwang told the newspaper. “My specialty is in cell nuclear transplantation. So we've agreed that if we combine… click here to read whole article and make comments


Should we rethink our rescue intuitions?

The rescue instinct is a principle deeply set in our psyche – when we encounter someone whose life is at immediate risk we feel an obligation to rescue them. No normal person would stand by as a child drowns in a pool, for example.

But how analogous is this situation to various vexed situations in clinical practice? And what do we do when we have only limited healthcare resources to allocate?

A new article in the American Journal of Bioethics argues that we are often led astray by the ‘rescue instinct’, and that our allocation of healthcare resources needs to be revised in light of other equally important considerations. 

Nancy S. Jecker of the University of Washington School of Medicine believes we are often misled by our rescue intuitions.

Jecker premises her article ‘Rethinking Rescue Medicine’ on a social observation:

“Although society invests in rescuing needy… click here to read whole article and make comments


The bioethics of precision medicine

The idea of ‘precision medicine’ has become the subject of much discussion, following US President Barak Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In his speech, President Obama promised to invest $215 million in a ground-breaking ‘precision medicine’ initiative, with the short-term aim of running drug trials for targeted cancer treatments.

Precision medicine sounds great in theory – it gives clinicians tools to identify the specific molecular/genetic profile underlying a patient’s health, disease, or condition, and thus offer more effective, targeted treatments.

But are there any attendant bioethical concerns?

De Paul University bioethicist Craig Klugeman has raised questions about privacy controls on genetic information:

“Privacy is the main bioethical issue raised by the framers of this initiative. Given the record of companies and institutions with maintaining online privacy, I’m not sure we should yet be confident that privacy could be assured. And then consider… click here to read whole article and make comments


Many Dutch doctors open to euthanasia for existential suffering

Around one in three Dutch doctors would be prepared to help someone with early dementia, mental illness, or who is ‘tired of living’ to die, reveals a small survey published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

In the Netherlands, euthanasia or assisted suicide for those whose suffering is psychiatric/psychological in nature is legally permissible, but it represents a fraction of the numbers of patients who are helped to die in this way.

And while there is no ‘right’ to euthanasia, the freedom of a doctor to refuse the request on personal grounds has been widely debated, following some well-publicised cases. 

In a bid to find out what Dutch doctors think of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the researchers canvassed the views of 2500 randomly targeted general practitioners (family doctors) and specialists in the fields of elderly care, cardiology, respiratory medicine, intensive care, neurology and internal medicine… click here to read whole article and make comments


“My brother is the father of my son”

Here’s a Valentine’s Day story from the British press. “My brother is the 'father' of my son” is the headline over an article in the Telegraph about celebrity UK branding expert Mary Portas, aka Mary Queen of Shops. A lesbian, Ms Portas asked her brother to donate sperm to impregnate her spouse, Melanie Rickey. Their child, Horatio, was born two years ago.

Ms Portas told the London Times in a puff interview for her autobiography Shop Girl that with her brother’s help, she was able to have a genetic relationship with her son. Horatio calls Ms Portas 'Mama' and Ms Rickey 'Mummy'. Her brother is referred to as 'Daddy'.

IVF specialist Simon Fishel told the Times that sibling donations were becoming much more common, although usually a sister or mother would donate eggs to a sibling or daughter.

 “It would have been more unusual ten years… click here to read whole article and make comments


UK may cut welfare if you don’t diet

If you are a fat, unemployed Brit, a long Lent lies before you. Prime Minister David Cameron will announce today that people on sickness benefits because of obesity or alcohol or drug addiction could lose them if they do not follow doctor’s orders.

Mr Cameron has asked health expert Prof Dame Carol Black to study whether benefits should be withheld from those who refuse assistance. His prepared remarks say:

“Too many people are stuck on sickness benefits because of issues that could be addressed but instead are not. Some have drug or alcohol problems, but refuse treatment. In other cases, people have problems with their weight that could be addressed, but instead a life on benefits rather than work becomes the choice.
“It is not fair to ask hardworking taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a… click here to read whole article and make comments


Euthanasia cases leap in Dutch clinic

A Dutch euthanasia clinic cautioned three times by authorities in the past year has experienced a massive leap in the number of patients requesting assistance in dying.

In 2014, the Levenseindekliniek in The Hague received 1035 requests for euthanasia, up from 749 in 2013.

Of the 1035, 232 people were actually given euthanasia (up by 98 from 2013). 

The organisation believes the remarkable increase to be the result of increased publicity.

Last year they received widespread media attention after being reprimanded by the Regional Euthanasia Review Committee (RTE) for failing to refer a patient to a psychiatrist before euthanasia. The patient, a 47-year-old mother of two, was suffering from severe tinnitus.

Most of the 232 people given euthanasia by the Levenseindekliniek last year were suffering from physical conditions such as MS, ALS or effects of a stroke. Slightly less than a quarter had cancer and 20 per… click here to read whole article and make comments


Healthcare in hard times: Ukraine

More than politics is at stake in negotiations over a ceasefire between Ukraine and separatist rebels – healthcare in the affected regions is in a dire state.  

According to an article in this month’s Lancet, health services in east Ukraine are running out of essential medicines and facing serious shortages of doctors.

There has been an exodus of healthcare professionals from the war-torn regions over recent months and according to WHO estimates some facilities are experiencing shortages as high as 70%.

But this is not the only concern – medical supplies, including life-saving medicines, have been interrupted or cut off entirely in the eastern regions of the country. There are concerns about the fate of people with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as supplies of vital medicines dry up. And hundreds of people on opioid substitution therapy (OST) have already had their treatment cut off because supplies of buprenorphine… click here to read whole article and make comments


Healthcare in hard times: Greece

As the Greek health system buckles under economic pressure, patients are taking desperate measures to ensure basic care. Many patients in general hospitals are renting illegal nurses to ensure ongoing attention.

The nurses, usually from eastern European countries, have little or no training, but they offer affordable rates and for many patients are the only option.

“Because of the crisis, the last three years, we see more and more illegal nurses,” said Mr. Anastasios Grigoropoulos, the chief executive of Evangelismos Hospital. 

One top official said he believed that half of the nursing care in Greece came from 18,000 illegal providers.

The nurses perform simple tasks like changing IVs, checking blood pressure and cleaning wounds.  

Sometimes hospital staff lack the jurisdiction to act without police intervention, and they too are aware of the harsh realities of the staff shortage. “You can’t do anything”, claims Grigoropoulos. 

click here to read whole article and make comments


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