August
23
 

Iran to boost birth rate by banning birth control

Iran is to ban vasectomies and female sterilization in an effort to reverse its plummeting birth rate and ageing population. A bill has passed parliament and only remains to be approved by the Guardian Council. Doctors who perform procedures such as vasectomies or tubal ligation, could face fines and prison sentences. Journalists will also be prosecuted if they publicise birth control or other family planning measures.

The bill follows years of concern by Iran’s rulers about its demography. After the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the government encouraged large families. Afterwards,  however, a big population was regarded as a drag on development. The government promoted contraception, so much so that the birth rate fell from about 6.0 to less than 2.0.

Ayatollah Khamenei has been criticising contraception and has said that the country should aim at doubling its population from 77 million to at least 150… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
22
 

Dawkins disses Down syndrome babies

Dear old Dick Dawkins is in hot water again after asserting on Twitter that it is “immoral” to allow Down Syndrome babies to be born. Dawkins, a popular genetist, campaigner for atheism and the former Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, found it a bit difficult to explain the subtler points of his thought in the 140-character limit of tweets.

However, he appears to have embraced Peter Singer’s version of utilitarianism, animal rights and veganism. He said that the central question in the abortion debate was not “is it 'human'?" but "can it suffer?”. He went on to insist that people should object to abortion if they eat meat.

He made the remarks in the context of a… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
22
 

Who is most vulnerable?

who is more susceptible to euthanasia or assisted suicide?    

In the on-going debate over euthanasia, there are seldom any new arguments. A favourite of those in favour of legalisation argue that the wishes of people who are competent and able to make a rational choice deserve to have their autonomy respected. A favourite of those against contend that the vulnerable – the poor, the disabled and the elderly – will be victimised.

One strand of evidence favours euthanasia supporters. In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, most of the people who take advantage of it, according to the figures for 2013 are white (94%), male (62%) and well-educated (53% with a college degree). There are no estimates of income, but well-educated white males tend to be wealthier than average and, significantly, not vulnerable.

However, a fascinating article in the Journal of… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
16
 

Australia could recognise multiple parents

Australian law could be revised to allow more than two parents, if recommendations in a major report are accepted by the government. A “Report On Parentage And The Family Law Act”, was released this week.

Adoption and new reproduction technologies are placing new strains on what “parent” means in contemporary society. Because of “the evidence of family diversity and children’s views about who is a parent”, the Council has recommended that the word “parent” be replaced by “other significant adults” or “other people of significance to the child” and that references to “both” (which implies only two) parents should be omitted.

There are many kinds of parents, the Council points out: legal, adoptive, genetic, intending, psychological, social and surrogate, amongst others.

The report was commissioned by the previous Labor government and was completed last December. The delay meant that it was released when commercial surrogacy is… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
16
 

Paolo and Francesca’s IVF mix-up

An Italian judge has settled a bitter custody battle for IVF twins by awarding them to the birth mother. The case, which has gripped Italy, is a worst case scenario for IVF clinics. Two women with similar names underwent IVF in Rome’s Sandro Pertini  hospital. The embryos were switched and one couple miscarried.

Three months later the woman bearing the twins had a genetic test which revealed that they were not related to her. The genetic parents claimed the twins but the birth mother, Francesca, and her partner, Paulo, are refusing to give them up. Under Italian law, the birth mother is clearly the legal mother.

The babies were born this week by Caesarean section. "We are happy. Very happy: our children are born, they're very well and we have already registered their birth," says Francesca. "No one will be able to take them from us,"… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
16
 

Thailand moves to ban surrogacy

The new Thai military government is moving swiftly to crush the lucrative surrogacy industry. This week two Australian same-sex couples and two American couples were prevented from leaving Thailand with a baby. The as-yet-unwritten legislation leaves 200 more surrogate mothers and their Australian clients in legal limbo.

Until now, commercial surrogacy was banned in Australia and discouraged in Thailand. However, taking advantage of numerous loopholes, it has become an important feature of Thailand’s booming medical tourism industry.

Under a new law women will be forbidden to carry babies for commercial purposes and surrogacy will be restricted to relatives. The penalties will be severe: 10 years in jail and a fine.

However, Nandana Indananda, a Bangkok-based lawyer who helped draft the new surrogacy law, told Deutsche Welle that surrogacy as such will not be banned.

“Firstly, it prohibits a doctor or surrogacy clinic from performing a… click here to read whole article and make comments



 
August
16
 

“Cordon sanitaire” drawn around Ebola victims

Bioethical debates about whether to administer an experimental drug for Ebola victims are interesting and necessary. But only a handful of doses are available anyway and hundreds of people are dying in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. According to the latest update from the World Health Organisation, 2,127  cases and 1,145 deaths have been reported. But it has also declared that “the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak”.

“Extraordinary measures,” are needed, it says, “on a massive scale, to contain the outbreak in settings characterized by extreme poverty, dysfunctional health systems, a severe shortage of doctors, and rampant fear.”

In view of the emergency, the three worst affected countries have taken the most drastic step possible – drawing a “cordon sanitaire” around the areas where the outbreak is most virulent. The perimeter is guarded by soldiers and no one is allowed… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
16
 

A disturbing study of gendercide in India

A major report on sex-ratios and abortion in India gives detailed background information on the scourge of gendercide. Sex Ratios and Gender Biased Sex Selection: History, Debates and Future Directions has been published by UN Women and covers the history, the figures and the debate about the causes of gendercide.

India’s child sex ratio (CSR) – the number of girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 — has deteriorated sharply over the past 20 years, dropping to 918 in 2011 from 945 in 1991, even though levels of education and wealth have risen significantly.

The report emphasises that sex-selective abortion has decreased in traditionally problematic regions, mostly in the north, but increased significantly in other areas. In the northwestern state of Punjab, where the CSR was extremely low, the number of female children per 1,000 male children rose to 846 in 2011 from 798 in 2001.

However, in… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
16
 

Media ethics 101: How not to report suicide

Two incidents this week show opposing responses to publicising suicides. In the US, comedian Robin Williams committed suicide, leading to an outpouring of grief by the public and horror by experts in media ethics. In Australia, controversial assisted suicide activist Dr Philip Nitschke resumed publicity for his do-it-yourself suicide kits. 

The “sensational headlines” and “unnecessary detail” of media reports -- as exemplified by the New York Post's lurid page -- were slammed around the globe. Dr. Mike Jempson, lecturer at the University of the West of England, called some of the media reports “textbook examples of how not to report a suicide”:

“[Williams death] seems to have given some newspapers a green light to “go off on one” – delving into his psyche with gay abandon, detailing the precise method of his suicide, and indulging in unhelpful speculation about its causes with little regard for the grief of… click here to read whole article and make comments



 
August
15
 

UK father of 58 children sentenced

Gennadij Raivich, a professor of perinatal medicine and neuroscience at University College London is the author of publications like “Investigation of cerebral autoregulation in the newborn piglet during anaesthesia and surgery” and “Methyl-isobutyl amiloride reduces brain Lac/NAA, cell death and microglial activation in a perinatal asphyxia mode”. There are 153 of these listed on his website.

But the achievement for which he will go down in history is siring 58 children by women desperate to become pregnant by donor insemination. He was convicted late last month only of the assault of one woman, although two others had laid complaints against him.

Interestingly, 15 satisfied female “customers” from all over the country spoke in his defence, including a police officer, maths teacher and lecturer, some of whom had two and in one case three of his children via what he called “Artificial Insemination Plus”.

The details of Professor… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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Iran to boost birth rate by banning birth control
23 Aug 2014
Dawkins disses Down syndrome babies
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Who is most vulnerable?
22 Aug 2014
Australia could recognise multiple parents
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Paolo and Francesca’s IVF mix-up
16 Aug 2014