February
21
 

BIOETHICIST SLAMS CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION

Amongst the paradoxes of contemporary bioethics are simultaneous appeals to individual conscience as the arbiter of murky moral issues and disdain for conscientious objection by doctors. Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu is squarely in the second camp. In a controversial recent article in the BMJ, he contends that "a doctor's conscience has little place in the delivery of modern medical care".

What should be provided to patients is defined by the law and consideration of the just distribution of finite medical resources... If people are not prepared to offer legally permitted, efficient, and beneficial care to a patients because it conflicts with their values, they should not be doctors."

Most of the decisions which Professor Savulescu has in mind revolve around reproductive issues, such as doctors refusing to do abortions, especially late-term abortions, refusing to give reproductive advice to gay couples, or refusing to prescribe emergency contraception. He gives four reasons to support his stand:




 
February
21
 

MIT RESEARCHERS MULTIPLY ADULT STEM CELLS

One of the drawbacks of adult stem cells is that they have proved hard to "expand", or multiply, in the lab. Now MIT researchers have taken a step forward by using a cocktail of growth factors to increase the rate of multiplication by mouse bone marrow stem cells about 30-fold.

"One of the major issues for haematopoietic and bone marrow transplantation has been the inability to get sufficient numbers of cells because they just don't want to grow in the laboratory," Bruce Bunnell, of Tulane University, told HealthDayNews. "In general, we get maybe a two- to five-fold expansion, and for most patients and most transplants you need many more cells. The ability to generate many more cells would more than likely significantly enhance the efficiency at which engraftment occurs. The ability to go from five- fold to 30-fold is a tremendous advancement."

Experiments like this could lead to important advances in stem cell medicine. It would increase the efficiency of… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
February
21
 

IN BRIEF: sex selection; PGD; face transplant

India sex selection: Despite an increasingly skewed sex ratio resulting from the abortion of girl foetuses and despite harsh laws banning sex selection, almost no Indian doctors are being prosecuted. Health activists complain that only 300 doctors have been prosecuted since the law was passed 12 years ago, and only four have been convicted. "There is confidence, almost arrogance, among some doctors that they can get away with this," says Arvind Kumar, a senior government official in Hyderabad. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
January
24
 

BIOEDGE ON HOLIDAYS

CALIFORNIA GIRDS UP FOR DEBATE OVER ASSISTED SUICIDE

Legislators in California are preparing for a debate over assisted suicide, following last week's Supreme Court ruling which supported Oregon's 9-year-old statute. However, neither supporters nor opponents of assisted suicide feel confident of victory. Although polls show that 70% of Californians support the idea that "incurably ill patients have the right to ask for and get life-ending medication", previous initiatives have failed -- in 1992 at the ballot box and in 1999 in the State Legislature.

The Oregon ruling was also based on states rights issues, not a supposed right to die. It was encouraging news for assisted suicide advocates, but hardly an endorsement of the movement.

Supporters are also testing the waters in the other West Coast state, Washington, although 15 years ago, voters rejected an assisted suicide initiative there, as well. At least two Democrats are thinking of introducing… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
January
24
 

FLOOD OF ELDERLY TO FILL CALIFORNIA’S PRISONS

 Australian euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke recently mused that euthanasia could become the "last frontier in prison reform". This is far from likely, but California's ballooning budget for geriatric prison inmates shows that it might seem plausible to some people. Of California's 168,000 prison inmates, one in six, or 28,470, are in for life, mostly as a result of tough sentencing laws.

The more elderly, the more costs," says Dr Nadim Khoury, chief deputy for clinical services at the California Medical Facility. There's no debate about it." The government estimates that by 2022 geriatric inmates will make up 16% of the prison population, rising from 5% at the moment. Older inmates have a much higher incidence of expensive ailments like diabetes, hepatitis, hypertension and liver disease. The average expense for inmates is US$34,000 per year, but older ones cost $70,000 and severely ill inmates can cost much more. The state prison system needs 100 to 200 elderly-care beds, says… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
January
24
 

ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE

About 60 people in England die alone, uncared for and in poverty each week, according to a report by the health spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, Paul Burstow. The study, based on a survey of 182 English councils, which are supposed to bury people who die alone without any family to make arrangements, found that men were 2 times more likely to die on their own than women. It is estimated that 3.5 million people over 65 live alone in the UK.

Mr Burstow commented that "It is an indictment of society that too many people are left to fade away, unable to make ends meet and lonely on the fringe of our communities. We all have a responsibility to look out and care for vulnerable neighbours, friends and relatives, not just at this time of year." click here to read whole article and make comments




 
January
24
 

BELGIAN EUTHANASIA DOC AT WORK IN FRANCE

A Belgian surgeon who has admitted euthanasing several patients illegally in her own country is being questioned over the death of a 74-year-old patient in France. Police allege that the doctor deliberately gave the woman an insulin overdose and she died two days later. The doctor suffers from depression and alcoholism and was imprisoned for four months in Belgium for fraud. She has also admitted that she euthanased several patients, including her own grandmother, before Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
January
24
 

EIGHT A DAY EUTHANASED IN BRITAIN, SURVEY CLAIMS

As many as eight people were euthanased every day in Britain in 2004, according to a study in the journal Palliative Medicine. The figures are a projection of data from an anonymous survey of 857 doctors. Of the supposed 2,866 euthanasia deaths, 1,930 were non- voluntary euthanasia and 936 were voluntary euthanasia.

The figures were claimed by both sides of the euthanasia debate as confirmation of their positions. The CEO of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, Deborah Annetts, said that the law banning doctors from killing patients must be changed if doctors were secretly breaking it. And the political director of the ProLife Alliance, Julia Millington, says that "surely the response of a civilised society is to stop this unlawful killing altogether". The author of the report, Professor Clive Seale, says that the report showed that UK doctors were less willing to help patients to die than in other countries. click here to read whole article and make comments




 
January
24
 

CAPTAIN KIRK STILL PRODUCING STAR TREK MEMORABILIA

Here's the ultimate in organ donation kitsch: a kidney stone passed by the commander of the Starship Enterprise has been sold to an on-line gaming casino. The money will be given to a charity. Actor William Shatner, looking a bit plumper and more relaxed than when he played the legendary Captain Kirk, mused that this takes organ donors to a new height, to a new low, maybe". GoldenPalace.com originally offered $15,000 but Shatner, a man who knows what he is worth, held out for $25,000.

Obtaining the stone was a costly business for the actor. He went to a hospital in great pain and ended up in a gurney for pregnant women. "They're wheeling me through the hospital," he recalled. "My legs are in the stirrups and I'm screaming -- and somebody says, Look, there goes Captain Kirk; he's having a baby!"

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
January
24
 

KOREAN ADULT STEM CELL THERAPY FAILS

A paralysed Korean woman who took some faltering steps after treatment with adult stem cells in 2004 says that her treatment has failed badly. She can not walk; she is in constant pain; and she can not even sit in a wheelchair. Doctors say that her spine became infected during a second round of therapy. Hwang Mi-sun, 39, now warns other patients not to place too much trust in stem cell treatment.

Although adult stem cells have had more clinical successes than embryonic stem cells (which have had none), no therapies have been approved by government health officials in any country. However, euphoria in 2004 over the apparently successful research of the now- disgraced Hwang Woo-suk led the South Korean government to relax restrictions on the use of adult stem cells in clinical trials. In 2003 no treatment with adult stem cells was reported. In 2005, 118 people were given experimental treatments.

The results were none too promising. According to… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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