July
12
 

Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide bill under attack

Criticism of Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide bill is mounting as the proposed legislation returns to the House of Lords. Various public figures have spoken out against the bill, arguing that it would put elderly citizens at risk and may escalate to a Netherlands-style euthanasia epidemic.

Professor Theo Boer, University of Utrecht bioethicist and member of a review committee monitoring euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands, warned the UK parliament on Wednesday about legalising the procedure.

Professor Boer recounted how euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands have doubled in the past six years, and may reach a record 6000 in the year 2014.

Boer is concerned that, as in the Netherlands, the law will be manipulated and existential suffering will become a common reason for AS:

‘Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved. 

“Some of these patients could… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
12
 

Dutch doctor challenges informed consent regulations

A new article in the Journal of Medical Ethics suggests that medical authorities lessen informed consent requirements for perinatal sterilization. Dr. Douwe Verkuyl of Refaja Hospital, the Netherlands, argues that tubal occlusion (TO) should be offered to women after a traumatic birth, even if they haven’t previously been consulted during pregnancy.

Under current International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) regulations doctors can provide a TO at the time of birth provided the patient has been consulted during pregnancy. If there has been no early consultation doctors are prohibited from performing the procedure.

FIGO is concerned that vulnerable women will rashly chose sterilization at the time of birth and later regret it.

Dr. Verkuyl questions the ‘vulnerability’ of women at the time of birth. He claims that there is no empirical evidence to support the belief that regret is higher in cases of ‘belated consultation’ perinatal TO. The risk, he asserts, is “possible but… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
12
 

Nitschke under investigation yet again

Pro-euthanasia campaigner Phillip Nitschke is being investigated for his involvement in the death of 45 year old West Australian man. The Medical Board of Australia is concerned that Nitschke advised Mr. Nigel Brayley to commit suicide without first suggesting formal psychiatric assessment. It appears Brayley was suffering from depression after the death of his wife and loss of his job in the mining industry.

In an interview with the ABC, Nitschke said Brayley was “not at the level” of severe depression.

Others are doubtful. “[Nitschke] gravely misinterprets how life events figure in depressive decision making”, said Monash bioethicist Paul Biegler. “Stresses such as job loss, money trouble, relationship breakdown and indeed criminal investigation figure in two-thirds of depressive episodes”.

At the time of Brayley’s suicide police were investigating his wife’s death as a possible murder.

Beyond Blue chairman Jeff Kennett was furious at Nitschke. “I was appalled…

what I can't understand is a… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
12
 

Questions over wireless-controlled contraceptives

New ethical dilemmas may be coming if a Massachusetts company succeeds in developing a contraceptive chip which could be activated and deactivated with wireless technology.

MicroCHIPS will begin preclinical testing of its device next year. If it passes safety and efficacy tests, it could be on the market by 2018. According to Technology Review, “the device would be more convenient for many women because, unlike existing contraceptive implants, it can be deactivated without a trip to the clinic and an outpatient procedure, and it would last nearly half their reproductive life.”

The chip measures 20 x 20 x 7 millimetres and would be implanted under the skin of the buttocks, upper arm, or abdomen where it would dispense daily doses of the hormone levonorgestrel. To conceive, women would turn the dosage off with a remote control. To resume contraception, they would log in to the… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
12
 

Oldest Down syndrome skeleton found in France

Earlier cultures may not have stigmatized people with Down syndrome as much as we do, archaeologists have suggested after examining a site in France. In an article in the International Journal of Paleopathology, says Maïté Rivollat at the University of Bordeaux in France and colleagues comment on a skeleton of a 5–7 year old child from Saint-Jean-des-Vignes in north-eastern France from the 5th or 6th century. It appears to be the earliest and youngest skeleton of its type ever discovered.

The child almost certainly suffered from Down syndrome, but he or she was not treated any differently from other members of her community when buried. He was placed on her back and oriented east-west with the head at the western end, just like most of the others found in the necropolis.

"[we] infer that this Down syndrome child was not treated differently at death than others in… click here to read whole article and make comments



 
July
12
 

Government responds to Canadian bioethicists’ complaint

Last week BioEdge reported that Canadian bioethicists were angry at the Harper Government’s refusal to appoint a strong and formally credentialed leader to oversee ethics in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). This week a spokesman for the CIHR, David Coulombe, responds.

BioEdge: Just for background: What has provoked the call for more and closer ethics oversight?  Have there been incidents in the recent past which were deemed unethical behaviour?

David Coulombe: In 2012, CIHR Governing Council directed CIHR to undertake a review of the approaches the organization currently uses to meet its mandate in the area of ethics.  What provoked the review was Governing Council’s wish to ensure effective alignment of internal efforts, as well as to achieve optimal impact vis-à-vis CIHR’s direction and processes and those of the newly created Tri-Council (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) Secretariat for the Responsible Conduct of Research.  The result was the… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
12
 

Remembering Nikola Tesla, eugenicist

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk celebrated Nikola Tesla’s birthday this week with a US$1 million donation to set up a Tesla museum in Long Island. The Serbian-American inventor, who died in 1943, was a prodigious inventor and is regarded by some of his admirers as the greatest geek who ever lived. With time, he has become a cult figure, which explains his appearance in the Oscar-nominated film The Prestige

Apart from inventing alternating electric current, Tesla was a futurist. In 1935 he gave an interview to the American magazine Liberty (now defunct) in which he peered 100 years into the future. Of interest to readers of BioEdge is his enthusiastic endorsement of eugenics, a common feeling before World War II.

“The year 2100 will see eugenics universally established. In past ages, the law governing the survival of the fittest roughly weeded out the less desirable strains. Then man’s new… click here to read whole article and make comments



 
July
05
 

Canadian bioethicists sunk in dejection over government inaction

The bioethics community in Canada is enraged at the Harper Government’s refusal to appoint a strong and formally credentialed leader to oversee ethics in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

In a report last year a government-appointed task force reminded the government that “CIHR is obligated legally to ensure that ethics has a central place within the organization. This is not optional; it is legally required.” Subsequently, an open letter to parliamentarians signed by 50 bioethicists and health law experts has demanded “strong leadership” from a person “recognized nationally and internationally as a leading scholar and researcher in ethics”.

It was not to be. Instead the CIHR’s Governing Council snubbed the bioethicists by appointing a so-called “Ethics Champion” in the CIHR. Taking the fall for the Governing Council is Dr Jane Aubin, who is a highly respected expert in medical biophysics. But she had to… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
05
 

What are the issues in post-mortem sperm retrieval?

In 2010 21-year-old Niklas Evans was assaulted outside a bar in Texas. He ended up in a coma and died after 10 days. His heartbroken mother, Missy Evans, requested the hospital to retrieve her son’s sperm so that she could create a grandchild with a surrogate mother. The case was too controversial for American fertility clinics so she ended up travelling to South Africa.

Did Missy and her doctors act ethically in removing sperm from Niklas’s dead body without his consent? This is the question that Anna Smajdor, of the University of East Anglia, tackles in the Journal of Medical Ethics, based on a discussion of some cases which have occurred in England. Like many other bioethicists, she opposes it.

The dead still have interests. The logic of post-mortem sperm retrieval without explicit consent could be extended to many other issues,  like organ extraction, exhibition of… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
05
 

Court orders France to recognise surrogacy children

Surrogacy may be banned in France, but it must recognise children born to surrogate parents abroad, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

This may have brought to an end a long-running case brought by two French families who had both used an American surrogate mother to gestate a child conceived with the father’s sperm. The ECHR said that refusal to recognise the children’s parentage “undermined the children’s identity within French society”.

Courts in California and Minnesota had recognised the couples as the legal parents more than 10 years ago. However, French authorities, suspecting that the cases involved surrogacy arrangements, refused to enter the birth certificates in the French register of births, marriages and deaths. the register. The children were living in a legal limbo – residents of France, but not citizens or legally-recognised offspring.

An appeal to the French Court of Cassation in 2011… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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