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



  •  
    November
    22
     

    KOREAN GOVT MUST INVESTIGATE ETHICS BREACH, SAYS NATURE

     The world's leading scientific journal, Nature, has demanded a Korean government investigation of claims that its world-beating stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk obtained human eggs unethically. Earlier this year Hwang published an article in Science about the creation of the first human embryonic stem cell lines from research clones. A thorough investigation is nonetheless required, not just for the sake of scientific integrity in South Korea, but to help persuade sceptics worldwide that research on human embryonic stem cells is being done ethically," says Nature.

    Hwang has been accused by his American research partner, Gerald Schatten, of the University of Pittsburgh, of obtaining eggs improperly and then covering up with persistent lies. The South Korean president's science and technology adviser, Ky Young Park, has already promised an investigation. But Nature scoffs at her offer. A bioethics consultant and a co-author of Hwang's paper, she told Nature that she had not previously considered the ethics of egg donation. "Stem-cell researchers… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    22
     

    CLONING REPREHENSIBLE - ESPECIALLY IF IT’S UNSAFE

     Without a single exception, responsible stem sell scientists are outspoken foes of reproductive cloning. Nearly every plea for the legalisation of therapeutic cloning or for government funding ends with a sentence insisting that reproductive cloning must be banned because it is unsafe.

    Many bioethicists, however, take a longer term view and foresee a day when cloning will no longer be unsafe. In that case, they contend, it ought to be treated as a human right. The latest issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics contains the most recent argument.

    Cloning combined with certain types of genetic modification can be ethically justifiable when carried out by infertile, lesbian, or gay couples as a means to have children with a genetic relationship to both members of the couple," argues Professor Carson Strong, a bioethicist at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He stresses, however, that access to cloning should not be limited to these cases.

    He… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    22
     

    SWISS SUICIDE GROUP UNDER INVESTIGATION

    The Swiss assisted suicide group Dignitas is being investigated after a healthy 69-year-old German woman killed herself with its help. The woman, who has not been named for legal reasons, approached Dignitas with a fake medical report saying that she had terminal cirrhosis of the liver. But a routine autopsy by authorities when her body was returned to Germany revealed that this was false. It turned out that her doctor in Augsberg had given her a false medical certificate as a way of helping her to get sick leave from work.

    Another casualty was the Swiss doctor who provided the woman with a lethal dose of barbiturates. When he learned that she had not been terminally ill, he committed suicide. Nonetheless, the head of Dignitas, Ludwig Minelli, defended the work of his organisation. "The doctor's report that I was given indicated the woman was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver as well as hepatitis," he said. "And in any case… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    November
    22
     

    INCONCEIVABLE STORIES

     One of the casualties of this season's American TV is Inconceivable, an NBC series about life in a fertility clinic. It ran only long enough for the critics to give it a big raspberry. This was a pity, because the dramas initiated in IVF clinics have enough permutations to keep a soap opera in business for years. Perhaps viewers had already seen enough in real life. Here are a few developments which surfaced recently:
  • An 8 pound, 7 ounce baby boy was born late in October to three English sisters. Mrs Alex Patrick became infertile after chemotherapy for cervical cancer, so her 32-year-old twin sister offered eggs and her 35-year-old sister became the surrogate mother. Alex's husband provided the sperm. It is thought to be the first time in Britain for three sisters to be involved in a surrogate birth.
  • click here to read whole article and make comments



     
    November
    22
     

    CHILDREN OF DONOR DADS SEARCH FOR THEIR SIBLINGS

    American children conceived with donor sperm are seeking their biological father through an internet website ? and finding half- siblings by the dozen. Using the Donor Siblings Registry, a web site founded by Wendy Kramer and her 15-year-old donor-conceived son, some teenagers and their mothers are holding family "reunions" -- nearly always without Dad, who is just a number on a vial of sperm along with fragments of personal information. "They are building a new definition of family that both rests on biology and transcends it," comments the New York Times.

    Sperm bank officials estimate that 30,000 children are born each year from donor sperm, but no one knows how many there really are because the industry is unregulated. "As half-siblings find one another, it is becoming clear that the banks do not know how many children are born to each donor, and where they are. Popular donors may have several dozen children and critics say there is a risk… click here to read whole article and make comments




     

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