IVF for single women who never found Mr Right is becoming more popular, even if it is still regarded with some misgivings. A documentary on Australian Story profiles a former Facebook executive, 46-year-old Natalie Lovett, who decided on single motherhood and a designer baby after several failed relationships.
“Have I done it all right? No. I, I’ve made so many mistakes in my life: so many. I’ve walked away from an amazing relationship in my early, late 20s because I chose career over it. Should I be punished for the rest of my life because I didn’t make the right choices at the right time? I love my nieces and nephews so much, but they weren’t my own.”
Another dispatch from the Wild West of assisted reproductive technology. The third place contestant in the UK’s first Miss Transgender beauty competition wants to be the first Briton to be both father and mother of a child.
Fay Purdham, 27 (formerly Kevin McCamley) froze some of her sperm before transitioning to a woman via hormone treatments and surgery. Now she has launched a 100,000 pound crowd-funding appeal to help her engage a surrogate mother. If she is successful, she would be both the biological father and the adoptive mother. “Even before I knew I wanted to become a woman, I wanted to be a mother,” she says.
Ms Purdham first raised the possibility of changing her gender with a doctor when she was 16. At 19 she changed her name by deed poll; at 21 she embarked upon gender reassignment surgery. At the moment she has a…
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This belongs in the “ooops, I really shouldn’t have said that” department rather than serious public policy -- but if some politicians think it, others might actually do it. Olga Gutierrez Machorro, a councillor in the local government of Tecamachalco, not far from Mexico City, has suggested that homeless beggars should be put down with a lethal injection to keep them off the streets.
“Yes they’re a little crazy, but they’re harmless. Which is why I think to myself wouldn’t it be kinder to just give them a lethal injection?”
She said in an interview with the local paper Diario Cambio that this would be an improvement on “wandering around on the roads in danger of being hit or causing an accident.”
Demand for human breast milk is increasing “exponentially”. What are the ethics of creating a market for it?
North America is currently home to 19 milk banks, with nine more opening their doors soon. The Human Milk Banking Association of North America, which helps to run and accredit these banks, has gone from dispensing around 400,000 ounces of pasteurised donor human milk per year in 2000 to 3.8 million ounces in 2014. John Honaman, its Executive Director, says that the rise is due to both an increase in awareness of the health benefits of breast milk and an increase in the number of preterm infants who desperately need donated milk.
Ridley Scott’s latest film, The Martian, opens this month. Matt Damon plays an astronaut who is left for dead on Mars after a catastrophic accident. His challenge is to survive long enough for a rescue mission to return to the Red Planet. He has to make water and air and grow plants – alone and hundreds of millions of kilometres from home. It’s 93% fresh according to Rotten Tomatoes. “A muscular storytelling masterclass, a giddy audience-pleasing thrill-ride and certainly the most purely entertaining sci-fi movie since 2013's awards-magnet Gravity,” according to the critic for the The Times (London).
With the advent of new genomic sequencing technologies, researchers around the world are working to identify genetic variants that help explain differences in intelligence. Can such findings be used to improve education for all, as some scientists believe? Or are they likely to have a chilling effect on programs meant to improve educational outcomes among disadvantaged populations? These are among the questions explored in "The Genetics of Intelligence: Ethics and the Conduct of Trustworthy Research," a special report of the leading bioethics journal, Hastings Center Report.
The report assesses the science and explores concerns about the implications of the research and interest in applying it to education. It concludes with recommendations to ensure that the research is done in a way that is trustworthy and avoids the "vortex of classism and racism."
A Dutch general practitioner is being sued for not approving the euthanasia of a 19-year-old woman.
The tragic events surrounding the death of Milou de Moor could become an important legal precedent. Ms de Moor suffered from lupus, an autoimmune disease, from the age of 12. This was not only painful, but had severe psychological effects. She was subject to depression, mood swings, anger, blackouts and nerve pain. At least three years ago she requested euthanasia.
According to the story given to the media by her family and doctors, it appeared that all the necessary people had agreed, in accordance with the Dutch law on euthanasia. Her parents supported her decision. A date was set for her death. However, at the last minute, the (unnamed) general practitioner reneged and said that she did not believe that euthanasia was appropriate. Then the…
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Just months after the release of a controversial Chinese study into embryo gene-editing, British scientists have requested permission to genetically modify human embryos using the ground-breaking CRISPR-CAS9 technique.
Dr Kathy Niakan, a leading developmental biologist affiliated with the Francis Crick Institute in London, believes the research would provide us with “fundamental insights into early human development”.
Niakan intends to use Crispr-Cas9 to switch genes on and off in early stage human embryos. She will then look for the effects the modifications have on the development of the cells that go on to form the placenta. “It is essential to study the function of these human genes in the context of the embryo in order to fully understand their roles,” she said in a statement last week.
Many issues in bioethics are influenced by “data” supplied by psychology: how IVF children socialise; whether patients who request euthanasia are depressed; whether surrogate mothers enjoy their work, and so on. So the state of social psychology matters deeply for bioethics. And social psychology, say many psychologists, is in a state of crisis.
Nothing illustrates this more starkly than the news earlier this month that 60 out of 100 psychology experiments failed to replicate. This study from the Reproducibility Project at the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Va., was published in the leading journal Science, which is hardly a marginal, counter-cultural outlet for crank science.
For a layman, it is disturbing that the results of experiments reported in peer-reviewed journals could not be reproduced. But should it be?
Scores of Australian couples are visiting the US to avail themselves of sex-selective IVF, according to infertility doctor turned businessman Daniel Potter. Potter, who is currently touring Australia, runs a network of IVF clinics in Southern California known as HRC Fertility.
In an interview with The Australian, he said that around 15 to 20 Australian couples visit his clinics each month. “Typically it’s women wanting to have a daughter, that’s 80 per cent of what we do,” he said.
For the 150 to 200 Australian couples that travel to the US for the procedure each year, the cost is usually $15,000 per treatment, excluding the accommodation and travel costs.
The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council is currently running a consultation about proposed changes to the existing law on sex-selective IVF.