December
06
 

IN BRIEF: NZ euthanasia; IVF defects

  • New Zealand: Australian euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke plans to move to New Zealand in January to carry on his campaign from Auckland. However, the Medical Council of New Zealand appears to be trying to block him by insisting that he must first register as a doctor there. Dr Nitschke's attempts to register in the past have failed. click here to read whole article and make comments



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    November
    29
     

    CLONING PIONEER HITS THE WALL

     Researchers who want to clone human embryos and create stem cells are facing the biggest public relations disaster in the history of their fledgling science. Their most acclaimed colleague Hwang Woo-suk, of Seoul National University, has admitted that he lied about his compliance with ethical protocols.

    I am very sorry that I have to tell the public words that are too shameful and horrible," he told . "The world gasped in awe when I first showed the results of my research. I felt a national pride and tasted the confidence that we Koreans could achieve things too," he said. "I was blinded by work and my drive for achievement." Hwang has now resigned from all public posts although he will continue with his research with the warm support of his government.

    Hwang's misdemeanour was actually fairly minor. Despite explicit assertions that the eggs for his research had been donated by generous Korean women, he actually purchased most… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    29
     

    KOREAN STAMP OF APPROVAL

     Newspaper accounts of the Hwang debacle brought to light something that BioEdge missed earlier in the year: a South Korea postage stamp honouring his achievement. This was, according to Korea Post, the world-first of creating human embryonic stem cells in February 2004, which it describes as "another step forward in liberating humankind from incurable diseases that have inflicted untold human suffering for almost eternity". The only ethical controversy highlighted by Korea Post is the danger that cloning embryos might turn into cloning babies.

    The stamp has two panels. On the left a cell is being manipulated and on the right a paralysed man is bounding out of his wheelchair, kicking up his heels and embracing his girlfriend. With a tantalising vision like this on their stamps, it is no wonder that Hwang is so warmly supported by ordinary Koreans.

    click here to read whole article and make comments



     
    November
    29
     

    ETHICS OF EPIDEMICS NEEDED, SAYS CANADIAN STUDY

    Governments need to set ethical standards now for dealing with a possible influenza epidemic, says a Canadian bioethics thinktank. Based on the experience of the 2003 SARS crisis, the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics has drawn up a 15-point ethical guide.

    The Canadian battle with SARS proved that there were substantial issues. Dozens of health care workers were infected and some even died, but others refused to treat SARS patients. Apart from the duty to provide care, other matters which need to be examined include quarantine measures which strike a balance between public health and individual liberty; allocation of scarce medicines; and framing travel advisories so that they are transparent and equitable. click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    29
     

    KENTUCKY SURROGATE MOTHER BEARS CHILD FOR NOVELIST

    A messy surrogacy lawsuit is looming in Massachusetts which pits a best-selling novelist, her husband and her surrogate mother against the surrogate's estranged husband. Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of "The Deep End of the Ocean" (also a film), engaged Kentucky woman Arletta Bendschneider to carry a child conceived with sperm of Mitchard's husband and a donor egg. Arletta saw surrogacy as her "life's calling" and was happy to hand over the baby, which was born in Massachusetts on November 1.

    However, her husband, Jack Bendschneider, wasn't. He had walked out on her during the pregnancy, taking their two children, aged 7 and 2, and wants a divorce. He says that she neglected her own offspring during the pregnancy. Now he refuses to sign papers giving up his legal rights to the child. Mr Bendschneider says that he is not trying to thwart the surrogacy deal, but he wants nothing to do with his wife's surrogacy. "I don't understand why I have… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    29
     

    SURROGACY CHANGES MOOTED IN AUSTRALIA

    Adoption law should be liberalised to allow single people and gay couples to engage surrogate mothers, says a major report in the Australian state of Victoria. This is part of a major overhaul of laws on reproductive technology proposed by the Victorian Law Reform Commission. If passed by the state legislature, it will probably influence other states as well.

    The Law Reform Commission frowns on payment for surrogacy arrangements and says that only payment for medical expenses should be allowed -- not compensation for loss of earnings. "It would be unacceptable for the surrogate to obtain any material advantage as a result of carrying and giving birth to the child.," it argues.

    It has also adopted a "cautious" position on parentage. "The law should not compel the surrogate to hand over the baby to the commissioning couple if she decides that she cannot bring herself to do so," it says. The commissioning couple need to be "fit and proper" people… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    29
     

    IVF COMPLICATIONS HIT 1 IN 7

    After IVF treatment one woman in seven is hospitalised with serious complications, Finnish researchers have found. This is almost twice the number for natural pregnancies, says Dr Reija Klemetti, of the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health in Helsinki. "Though there was a low risk of complications after each IVF treatment cycle, repeated attempts resulted in serious complications for many women," she says.

    The research was based on a survey of 20,000 women. The complications include miscarriages, bleeding, ectopic pregnancies and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The study had been carried out because the incidence of complications due to IVF was "poorly understood", said Dr Klemetti. It was originally reported in the journal Human Reproduction. click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    29
     

    NEW EUTHANASIA FILM ON THE WAY

    Close on the heels of Oscar-winning euthanasia films "Million Dollar Baby" and "Mar Adentro" ("The Sea Inside"), Hollywood producer Steve Jones is working on a biopic of Dr Jack Kervorkian, the Michigan doctor who helped scores of Americans to commit suicide. Kevorkian is currently in jail for the murder of one of his patients, although his lawyer has requested an early release or a governor's pardon. Early rumblings are that Oscar winners Ben Kingsley or Daniel Day Lewis might play Kevorkian.

    Mr Jones compares his film, to be called "You Don't Know Jack", to another film about a talented eccentric, "A Beautiful Mind". "Dr Kevorkian is a man who walks in the footsteps of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and we're going to tell his story, his struggle, and let the audience decide how they feel about any of the issues that he has taken on," says Mr Jones. click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    29
     

    ABORTION DRUG INVESTIGATED OVER FOUR DEATHS

     Following the deaths of four women who took the abortion drug RU- 486, Federal drug regulators in the US have announced that they will convene a scientific meeting early next year to discuss what happened. According to the New York Times, all four deaths occurred in California and all four were due to "a rare and highly lethal bacterial infection". The bacterium, Clostridium sordelli, infects the uterus and enters the bloodstream. It causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and weakness, but not a fever, so women do not realise how sick they are until too late. Antibiotics are often ineffective against a flourishing infection of this kind because even in death, the bacteria continue to release toxins. RU-486, which is also called mifepristone, or Mifeprex, has been responsible for 500,000 abortions in the US since it was approved in 2000.

    At the same time, Australian politicians are wrestling with whether RU-486 should be distributed in their country. Health Minister Tony Abbott… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    29
     

    IN BRIEF: ultimate Xmas gift; morning-after pill

  • A leading New York cosmetic surgeon is offering "the most expensive and extensive plastic surgery procedure in history" as the ultimate Christmas gift. For US$1 million, the woman who doesn't have quite everything will get an "all-encompassing, full-body rejuvenation", including breast augmentation, full body liposuction, tummy tuck, rhinoplasty, mole removal, and much, much more. Contact Dr Stephen Greenberg, at 7th Floor, 461 Park Avenue South, New York, for further details.

  • The controversy over the failure of the US Food and Drug Administration to approve the morning-after pill for over-the- counter sales continues. Now a government watchdog has claimed that senior FDA officials overruled scientists to block distribution of the drug. The FDA responded by saying that the report by the Government Accountability Office "mischaracterises facts... We question the integrity of the investigative process". click here to read whole article and make comments



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