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




 
August
15
 

WHO endorses use of untested Ebola treatments

The WHO has endorsed the use of untested Ebola interventions on patients infected with the disease.  

A 12-member panel of bioethicists convened by telephone on Monday to discuss the issue.

In a press conference following the discussion, Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general of the WHO, said there was consensus about the compassionate use of the drug on those infected with the virus:  “[There has been] unanimous agreement among the experts that in the special circumstances of this Ebola outbreak it is ethical to offer unregistered treatments”.

The panel believed that the extent of the outbreak and the high case-fatality rate outweighed concerns about the side effects of untested treatments:

“In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.”

The two American victims of… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
15
 

Serbian soldiers were killed for organs - EU task force

An EU investigation into criminal activity during the 1999 Kosovo war has found that a “handful” of Serbian soldiers were killed by Albanian militants for the purposes of organ trafficking.

Special Investigative Task Force chief Cliff Williamson announced the findings at a news conference in Brussels late last month.

Williamson said that “less than ten” soldiers were killed and their bodies smuggled to Albania for organ harvesting.

The fact that there were only a few victims, Williamson remarked, does not diminish the savagery of the crime: “even one person was subjected to such a horrific practice, and we believe a small number were, that is a terrible tragedy”.

He did say, however, that accusations of widespread organ harvesting have caused unnecessary trauma for families of missing soldiers.

The investigative committee does not currently have enough evidence to initiate prosecution but will continue its investigation.

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
August
15
 

Edinburgh to host bioethics film festival

Is the human embryo just a pile of cells or is it a human person like us? What are the ethical consequences of each position for society? Will a consensus ever be found? But what is a person anyway?

These are some of the questions which film-goers will be invited to explore and debate at the 10th International Biomedical Ethics Film Festival on the moral status of the human embryo in November in Edinburgh.

The Festival will feature a range of films and documentaries. If the Walls Could Talk (1996) is a revealing trilogy of stories about unexpected pregnancies set in the same house, but with different occupants spanning over 40 years. In the teenage classic Juno (2007) an adolescent discovers she is pregnant after a one-off event with her best friend. (See trailer below.)

Following each screening there will be a discussion with an expert panel including Dr Trevor Stammers, of St Mary's University, in London, and Professor… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
August
09
 

Ebola outbreak prompts ethical questions

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak has prompted bioethical discussion on two fronts. The viral disease has killed about 1,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. A few cases have been diagnosed in Nigeria. The chances of dying in this outbreak are about 50%. Newspapers in Western countries like the US, the UK and Australia are highlighting the possibility of their own epidemics. The World Health Organisation has declared it an international public health emergency, although it has not suggested general bans on travel or trade.

The first issue, as bioethicist Arthur Caplan points out, is that developed countries only worry about exotic diseases like Ebola when it threatens them:

“The harsh ethical truth is the Ebola epidemic happened because few people in the wealthy nations of the world cared enough to do anything about it. We do need headlines about Ebola. They should ask how… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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