June
20
 

Peter Singer ‘disinvited’ from German philosophy festival

Peter Singer is in hot water in Germany again over his controversial views.

The Australian utilitarian philosopher began his royal progress through Europe well. In late May he added another two honorary doctorates -- from the Universities of Athens and of Bucharest -- to his extensive collection of awards and distinctions. From there he went to Berlin to receive the inaugural “Peter Singer Prize for Strategies to Reduce the Suffering of Animals”. He was introduced in glowing terms by Maneka Gandhi, Indian Minister of Women and Child Development, who is president of People for Animals in her own country. A German politician explained why he was so popular: “Peter Singer's ideas are logical, free from religion and easy to understand”.

However, these encomiums were lost on a gathering outside where about 250 people had assembled to protest the invitation. Their message was that Singer believes in… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
20
 

Nepalese surrogacy unearthed

The devastating earthquake in Nepal last April unearthed many harsh realities of life in the poverty stricken country – including the alleged exploitation of young Indian migrants by surrogacy agents in Kathmandu.

After the 2013 Indian government ban on the use of local surrogates by non-married, gay or single parents, surrogacy agents have turned to Nepal where the procedure is less regulated.

While Nepalese locals tend not to act as surrogates, there is no official government ban and scores of migrant women rent their wombs in cities like Kathmandu.

Surrogacy agencies in Nepal lure clients on the Internet with rates that are about a fourth of the prices in the United States. The packages cost between $35,000 and $65,000. The mothers earn between $5,000 and $6,000 of that, the price of a house in that part of Asia. The rest goes into the pockets of doctors and agencies.
click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
20
 

The Rachel Dolezal controversy

In the past two weeks the US media has been in a frenzy over allegations that civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal is really ‘white’. Dolezal has gone on the defensive, claiming that she identifies as ‘black’ – but these claims have in turn been met with criticism from all quarters of American society.

So what does this debate really hinge on? In an Op-Ed in the Washington Post,  Pulitzer-prize winning report Amy Ellis Nutt claims that cultural identity has a strong biological substrate in different areas of the brain. This somehow should inform the way we view the Dolezal controversy.

“Individuals contain different selves, often contradictory selves, according to neuroscientists. There is no clump of grey matter or nexus of electrical activity in the brain that we can point to and say, “this is me, this is where my self is located.” Instead, we are spread out… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
20
 

Where is Belgian euthanasia headed, asks The New Yorker

The long-drawn-out case of a woman who asked for euthanasia in 2012 may eventually reach a criminal court in Belgium. The European Court of Human Rights wants a Belgian court to hear allegations that there were serious irregularities in the euthanasis of Godelieva De Troyer by  Dr Wim Distelmans.

Ms De Troyer’s son, Tom Mortier, a university lecturer, claims that her own doctor denied his mother’s request for euthanasia because she was depressed. However, Dr Distelmans, who had no psychiatric expertise, readily agreed. Ms De Troyer made a 2,500 Euro donation to Dr Distelman’s Life End Information Forum, which suggests that there may have been a conflict of interest.

Ms De Troyer’s death was just one of 1,432 registered euthanasia deaths in Belgium in 2012. But a careful examination of the details of the case in America's foremost literary magazine, The New Yorker, this week raises serious… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
20
 

Repeat clients prefer same sperm donors

Despite a prevalence of anonymous sperm donation in European countries, the use of the same sperm donor for subsequent conceptions is of paramount importance to those couples needing sperm donation to have children.

According to research presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Lisbon this month, couples are far from indifferent about genetic links. They  felt that the genetic link between children encouraged better sibling relations, and that visible and other resemblances between the children would reinforce family ties.

The investigators acknowledged the paradox of their findings - that, while sperm (and egg) donation necessarily imply the genetic detachment of the child from one of its parents, couples themselves seem determined to do as much as possible to ensure genetic bonds between their children.

"Donor offspring are increasingly seeking their genetic half siblings through online registries," said Ms Somers.… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
13
 

Dutch man cleared after helping mother commit suicide

The Arnhem Court of Appeal has cleared a 74-year-old Dutch man who helped his mother commit suicide, despite strict prohibitions on assisted suicide in federal leglislation. The man, Albert Heringa, admitted in 2010 documentary that he had helped his 99-year-old ailing mother Moek to overdose on medication. Dutch law allows euthanasia if carried out in strict conditions by a physician, but assisted suicide by a friend or relative of the person who wants to die remains illegal.

Heringa was brought before a court in 2013 and found guilty of assisting in his mother’s death; the court of appeal rejected this decision.

In a written verdict, the appeals court said Heringa had to decide between obeying the law against assisting suicide and his “unwritten moral duty” to help his mother achieve her wish for “a painless, peaceful and dignified death.”

Heringa "could not lean back and do nothing, while… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
13
 

Baby born from ovary frozen in mother’s childhood

A Belgian woman has given birth using transplanted ovarian tissue that she had removed when she was a child.

The 29-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, suffered from severe sickle cell aenemia since a young age, and had to undergo strong chemotherapy. Doctors chose to remove her right ovary and surrounding ovary tissue before it was damaged by the chemotherapy; her remaining ovary failed following the treatment, meaning that she was extremely unlikely to conceive without a transplant.

As an adult, the woman asked doctors to restore the frozen ovary. The patient started menstruating spontaneously five months later, and became pregnant naturally at the age of 27. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in November last year.

The gynaecologist who led the treatment to restore the patient's fertility, Dr Isabelle Demeestere, told the BBC the patient was very stressed during the procedure because it was her… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
13
 

New Down syndrome test could be more “efficient”

UK researchers are hailing the development of a "safer" and more "cost-effective" test for Down syndrome. The newly developed procedure, which involves screening the blood of a mother for foetal DNA, is a far less invasive alternative to the current procedure (amniocentesis) used to detect Down’s syndrome.

The new method was recently trialled on 2500 expectant mothers at Grand Ormond Street Hospital in London, and researchers say it is both less risky and cheaper.  

The current method, amniocentesis, involves the sampling of amniotic fluid obtained through the insertion of a hollow needle into a mother’s uterus. This procedure significantly increases the chance of a miscarriage, aside from being quite frightening and often painful for pregnant women.

The new procedure involves one simple blood test. "Instead of taking an invasive sample, we can take a sample of the mother's blood, and we can look at the levels of DNA… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
13
 

Planning for a world with LGBT bioethics

With same-sex marriage and the transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn Jenner in the world headlines, it’s time to ask what LGBT bioethics would look like. Timothy Murphy, of the University of Illinois College of Medicine,  foreshadows some of the major themes in the journal Bioethics.

Bioethics benefits. “Bioethics is better than it would otherwise have been, because people queer in their sexual interests and identities have challenged misconceived concepts of health and disease, challenged obstacles to access and equity in healthcare, and forced attention to professional standards in clinical care, among other things.”

Defending LGBT parenting. To show that the battle is not completely over, Murphy cites Oxford philosopher John Finnis’s implacable opposition to adoption by male and female homosexuals as “intrinsically evil”. Putting “skepticism about LGBT people as fit parents fully behind it” will be one of the first tasks of fully developed… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
June
13
 

European court allows “vegetative” patient to be starved to death

Doctors have been given permission to remove food and water from Vincent Lambert, a severely brain-damaged, 38-year-old Frenchman. After a long legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights ruled last week that  ending artificial nutrition and hydration did not violate Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to life.

Like the Terri Schiavo case, the fate of Mr Lambert, who was injured in a car accident seven years ago, has pitted his parents against his wife. In this case, his wife Rachel says that he would not want to be kept alive in a vegetative state. She is supported by six of his siblings. His parents, however, deny that he is in a vegetative state and are supported by two of Lambert’s sisters and a half-brother, have vowed to fight on to keep him alive. They claim that he is… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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 from the editor: Pointed Remarks
Supreme Court fall-out
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Creating memories.
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So much falseness in the world
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