About 70 people accompanied Belgian euthanasia doctor Wim Distelmans on his tour of Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp in German-occupied Poland, last month. The German magazine Der Spiegel ran a long, reflective feature which attempted to explain why he dared to link euthanasia to Nazi atrocities .
The tour was highly controversial. In Antwerp ultraorthodox Jews were outraged that Dr Distelmans had described Auschwitz as “an inspiring venue”. They called him “a professional killer”. The deputy director of the Auschwitz memorial commented: "We feel that the attempt to link the history of Auschwitz with the current debate about euthanasia is inappropriate."
Distelmans was not deterred by the protests. His point was that the Nazis violated autonomy while he esteems it. He is killing patients out of humility and love. "What does this mean to us?", Distelmans asked the tour group.
Assisted suicide is an idea which keeps evolving. Who could have foreseen the development of groups of non-doctors which help hundreds of people to die in Switzerland? Now a bioethicist from the University of Tübingen in Germany has proposed what he calls “commercially assisted suicide” (CAS) – paying a non-doctor to kill patients.
Roland Kipke argues in the journal Bioethics that there are no ethical arguments against CAS which cannot also be deployed against physician-assisted suicide (as in Oregon). It is not a popular cause, as the thought of CAS horrifies both supporters and opponents of assisted suicide.
Kipke rolls out several arguments in favour of CAS. It is not a breach of medical ethics because no doctor is involved. A for-profit provider will be more readily available than a doctor, who may have qualms of conscience.
The situation of civilians under siege by the Assad regime in Syria is even worse than under ISIS, the Islamic extremists, say Syrian doctors. In an op-ed in the New York Times, two doctors claim that at least 560 doctors and nurses have been killed and 155 medical facilities have been attacked since the war began.
Much of the destruction is due to barrel bombs, 44-gallon drums filled with explosives and shrapnel launched from helicopters. “The bombs explode with terrific force and breadth, amputating limbs and driving shrapnel throughout the body. One doctor we interviewed was still horrified by the indelible image of a mother and daughter whose bodies were blown apart while their hands remained clasped together.”
A gay couple in Britain made history recently when all three of their surrogate mothers presented them with babies within seven months of each other. Daryl Lee, 41, and Luke Harris, 50, had been in a civil partnership for years and had always dreamed of having a family. Mr Harris told The Sun:
“When we told our families we are having our first surrogate baby, they were so excited for us, as they know for the past 15 years we've dreamed of having a family of our own. When we told them we were having a second baby they were amazed. And then, when we announced we're actually having three babies of our own they were stunned but overjoyed."
The first doctor to be tried in Egypt for performing female genital mutilation has been acquitted, dashing activists’ hopes that a conviction would send a stern message parents and doctors.
Raslan Fadl, a medical doctor and Islamic preacher in the village of Agga, northern Egypt, was on trial for manslaughter after 12-year-old Sohair al-Bata’a died in June 2013 after an operation. He denied that the procedure was FGM and said that his accusers were “on drugs”.
“Of course there will be no stopping any doctor after this. Any doctor can do any FGM he wants now,” Atef Aboelenein, a lawyer for the Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness, told The Guardian. Suad Abu-Dayyeh, of Equality Now, said: “It’s a very unjust verdict from the judge. It sends a very negative message. It was the first case in…
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People who say Yes say often explain why by invoking the greatest good for the greatest number so critics have called these fat-man-sacrificers typical utilitarian thinkers. Digging deeper, several researchers have found a correlation between this decision and Machiavellian, egotistic or even psychopathic personalities. Utilitarian=Psychopath has never been a good marketing slogan.
One of the most famous advertisements in history was supposedly written by South Pole explorer Ernest Shackleton: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”
Perhaps egg freezing doctors have learned from Shackleton that highlighting the risks and dangers of cold places need not discourage clients. The video above suggests that it may actually inspire them. It features “The Egg-Whisperer” (aka Dr Aimee Eyvazzadeh at eggfreezingparty.com) and her “Tupperware parties” for fertility-conscious professional women working in and around Silicon Valley. “After you attend a party, we welcome you to become one of Dr. Aimee’s patients so that she…
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Pope Francis has condemned euthanasia, calling it “a sin against God the creator”. The Roman Pontiff made the statement in an address to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors . The Pope – who may be the single most influential bioethical voice in the world -- criticised the logic of what he termed “false compassion”. He also applied the notion to arguments for abortion and IVF.
“The dominant thinking sometimes suggests a ‘false compassion’, that which believes that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to ‘produce’ a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome”.
Summarising his scepticism about contemporary trends, the Pope said:
An Australian academic has prompted spirited debate after suggesting that denying euthanasia to the mentally ill could be a form of unjust discrimination.
In a recent article in The Conversation, Dr Sascha Callaghan of the University of New South Wales suggested that mental illness in itself may be insufficient grounds to deny an individual euthanasia:
“The idea that euthanasia should not be offered for mental suffering is not universally agreed, and requires some further consideration… too stringent an approach risks locking people with mental illnesses out of the right to make decisions about the end of their lives – and this might be discriminatory.”
A US Navy nurse may be discharged after refusing to force-feed prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. The nurse, who has served in the Navy for over 18 years, used to participate but eventually concluded that it was “unethical”.
The US military’s preferred method of force-feeding involves inserting a tube through a detainee’s nostrils and into his stomach. The nurse changed his attitude to the procedure after seeing how much they resisted.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) recently released an open letter to Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and the director of the Navy Nurse Corps, requesting that the nurse not be punished. The ANA invoked the ethical right of a nurse to “make an independent judgment about whether he or she should participate in this or any other such activity”. The Navy has not responded.