March
21
 

TWO MORE WOMEN DIE AFTER USING RU-486

 Two more American women have died after taking the abortion pill RU- 486, the Food and Drug Administration has announced. It issued an alert warning patients and doctors to follow instructions for using the drug carefully and to report warning signs such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain. The New York manufacturer of the drug, Danco Laboratories, said it was deeply saddened by the deaths and was investigating.

Abortion provider Planned Parenthood has begun telling women to take the drug orally, as recommended by the FDA, instead of vaginally, a common off-label use in the US. It emphasised that only a tiny fraction of American women taking the drug had died. Four of these women, including the latest two, received the abortion pill at clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
March
21
 

ITALIAN MINISTER CALLS DUTCH NAZIS OVER CHILD EUTHANASIA

 Despite furious protests from the Dutch government, an Italian minister has dug in his heels and refuses to apologise for comparing Dutch euthanasia laws to the Nazi regime. "Nazi legislation and Hitler's ideas are re-emerging in Europe via Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate on how to kill ill children," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Carlo Giovanardi said during an radio debate on euthanasia.

When his opponent called upon Giovanardi to apologise during the program, he refused and repeated his remarks. "I have nothing to apologise for, because I am against murders of ill people," Giovanardi said. "It is the Dutch, who are to explain to Europe their homicidal practices. In the Netherlands it is allowed to put to death gravely ill children starting from the age of 12." Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denounced the analogy as scandalous and intolerable." and said he would raise the issue with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at an EU meeting next week.… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

AMERICANS DEBATE CHILDREN’S “WRONGFUL BIRTHS”

Parents in Ohio can now sue doctors whose misdiagnosis leads to the birth of a disabled child whom they would otherwise have aborted. A 4-3 State Supreme Court ruling earlier this month limits the damages to the costs associated with a pregnancy and the birth of the child. Parents cannot sue for pain and suffering or for repayment of the cost of raising a disabled child.

In a New York Times Magazine review of the ethical morass surrounding "wrongful birth" suits in the US, Elizabeth Weil writes that "the moral quandary we find ourselves in pits the ideal of unconditional love of a child against the reality that most of us would prefer not to have that unconditional-love relationship with a certain subset of kids". Ms Weil, who aborted a disabled child herself, focuses on the painful experience of Anthony and Donna Branca. Their child AJ was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, which causes severe retardation and physical disability. Eventually they… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

EMBRYONIC STEM CELL FUNDING SCARCE

Finding private funding for stem cell treatments is getting no easier, according to reports in the financial magazines Red Herring and Forbes. "I would say the venture [capital] community has more or less abandoned this area over the last five years," says Ralph Snodgrass, CEO of VistaGen Therapeutics, a California company investigating embryonic stem cell technologies. A major obstacle is the continuing debate in legislatures over the ethical issues. Venture capitalists are willing to take financial risks, market risks, management risks, but the one thing they are not happy to do is take political risks," says William M. Caldwell IV, CEO of another embryonic stem cell company in Massachusetts, Advanced Cell Technology.

Although some industry figures predict that human embryonic stem cell treatments will be on the market within 5 to 7 years, a British regulator disagreed. "I think we really need to be responsible when we talk about the time frame of the technologies, such as saying they will… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

DOLLY’S “DAD” DEFENDED BY COLLEAGUES

After a blast of criticism following reports in the British press that he was not the main figure in cloning Dolly the sheep, Professor Ian Wilmut as been defended by fellow scientists. "I have no reason to think Wilmut did anything wrong," Dr Richard Henderson, of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge told The Scientist. And German scientist Eckhard Wolf, of the University of Munich, noted that first authors do not have to be directly involved in a project. "If the basis of the research was his idea, then there is no reason why he should not be first author," he said. Also, contrary to a report in The Scotsman newspaper, the Frankfurt-based Paul Ehrlich Foundation has denied that it intends to strip Wilmut of a prestigious prize.

Naturally, there were other scientists who still feel that Wilmut should not have taken the lion's share of the credit for the landmark experiment. "Yes, this is common… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

IN BRIEF: Hwang-gate…

Hwang-gate: Hwang Woo-suk, the disgraced Korea stem cell researcher, has been fired from his post at Seoul National University. Six of his colleagues were also disciplined by the university. The Korean government has also revoked Hwang's licence to work in human cloning research. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
March
14
 

DOLLY’S “DAD” HAD ONLY SUPERVISORY ROLE

 Cloning researchers seem to have a knack for coming up with embarrassing surprises. First the South Korean government ended up with egg on its face for pinning its dream of becoming a major biotech player on the fraudulent experiments of Hwang Woo-suk. Now the German government has come under fire for giving its most prestigious scientific prize to the wrong man.

It turns out that Professor Ian Wilmut, internationally famed as the creator of the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, played second fiddle in the landmark experiment. This has emerged in an improbable venue, an employment tribunal where Wilmut is being accused of racial harassing and bullying an Asian colleague, Prim Singh.

He was asked by a lawyer whether the statement "I did not create Dolly" was accurate and was forced to reply, "Yes". Sixty-six per cent of the credit, said Wilmut, should go to another colleague, Professor Keith Campbell; he had only had a supervisory… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
14
 

UK WOMAN DENIED ACCESS TO FROZEN EMBRYOS

 The fate of frozen embryos hit page one in Britain last week with a sobbing woman begging her former boyfriend to allow their 5-year-old IVF embryos to be implanted in her womb. Natallie Evans accused Howard Johnston of despicable pettiness after she lost her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. "He knew what he was going into when we first went into IVF," she said. "He chose to become a father the day we created embryos. He's being very mean. He's stopping me becoming a mother." After a battle with ovarian cancer, she can no longer have children.

But Mr Johnston, who broke up with Ms Evans about four years ago, looks at the situation differently: "I did not want a child of mine growing up not knowing who I was and in an environment I have no control over." In Strasbourg, the judges expressed "great sympathy" for Ms Evans's plight, but stated that the male donor's… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
14
 

IRISH TUG-OF-WAR OVER MORE EMBRYOS

And across the Irish Sea in Dublin, a divorced couple is locked in a custody battle over embryos also created and frozen in 2001. A former wife wants to have the embryos implanted; her husband, now in a new relationship, refuses. The unnamed couple, who have already had one child from these embryos, originally agreed that joint consent was needed on all decisions relating to the embryos. Now that they have fallen out, the embryos are in limbo.

Resolving the deadlock will be tricky. No Irish statute covers the fate of IVF embryos and the Irish constitution guarantees the right to life of unborn children. "These embryos are joint property of the couple, although even using the word property is unsavoury," says Frank Martin, a law lecturer at University College Cork. "Irish and English laws differ in that we have a written constitution, which makes this case distinctly Irish. The issue then is to determine if the embryo is synonymous… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
14
 

FORCE-FEEDING OF GITMO DETAINEES DENOUNCED

The force-feeding of Guantanamo Bay detainees has again come under attack by doctors. In a widely publicised letter in the British journal The Lancet, 263 doctors from seven countries claimed that force-feeding and the use of restraint chairs are specifically forbidden by the World Medical Association's code of ethics. They also question whether the American Medical Association is taking seriously allegations of torture by its own members.

The details of what is happening at Guantanamo Bay is not known. The military admits that six detainees are on a hunger strike and that three of them are being force-fed. Of the 490 terrorist suspects who have been held there for four years without indictments, as many as 130 went on a hunger strike in September, but by January this had fallen to six.

Their lawyers accuse the military of brutal treatment in administering the force-feeding, a charge which the Pentagon denies. The policy of the department is unchanged,… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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