‘Black bioethics’ emerging as a rebellion against conventional bioethics

For too long bioethics has ignored the health of African-Americans, contends Keisha Ray, a bioethicist at McGovern Medical School in Houston. That’s why a new field of “black bioethics” is needed. In the American Journal of Bioethics online blog where she is an associate editor, she explains that black bioethics is a rebellion against conventional bioethics.

In part, the existence of black bioethics represents bioethics failure to fulfil its mission. Vulnerable populations, and those external and sometimes internal factors that make certain populations vulnerable is an essential topic in bioethics. Bioethicists frequently discuss what makes populations vulnerable… MORE

More evidence of correlation between transgender and autism in UK study

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Transgender and gender-diverse adults are three to six times more likely as cisgender adults (whose gender identity corresponds to their sex at birth) to be diagnosed as autistic, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre.

This research, conducted using data from over 600,000 adult individuals, confirms previous smaller-scale studies from clinics. The results were published in Nature Communications.

The team used five different datasets, including a dataset of over 500,000 individuals collected as a part of the Channel 4… MORE

Disabled girl at centre of surrogacy case dies

Serafina Harrell 

A girl with severe disabilities who made international headlines when her surrogate mother refused to abort her has died. Seraphina Harrell, 8, died in Boston last month after surgery.

In 2013 an ultrasound revealed that the child carried by a surrogate mother, Crystal Kelley, had a number of severe birth defects. The commissioning parents offered Kelley US$10,000 to have an abortion. She refused. The parents’ lawyer followed up with a threatening letter which said: "You are obligated to terminate this pregnancy immediately. "You have squandered precious time."

Ms Kelley fled from Connecticut to Michigan… MORE

Disability rights groups protest death man in Texas hospital

Michael Hickson with his five children / photo from Melissa Hickson

Late last month we reported the Covid-19 death of Michael Hickson, a quadriplegic in Texas. Over the vehement objections of his wife, doctors at St David’s South Austin Medical Center withdrew nutrition and hydration because these constituted “futile care”.

Several national disability groups have asked the federal Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the case. In a letter to the OCR, they stated:

Statements made directly to Mr. Hickson’s wife, Melissa, by the treating professional indicate… MORE

With Covid-19, the world needs more ‘infodemiologists’

The job of monitoring fake health news on the internet now has a name, specialist professionals and even an international conference. The first infodemiology conference was organised recently by the World Health Organisation.

The term “infodemiology” was coined in the early 2000s. A German researcher, Gunther Eysenbach, developed techniques to show that an analysis of Google searches was a better way of predicting public health events than conventional surveillance methods.

But lately the focus of this new field is countering misinformation spread on the internet about the Covid-19 pandemic. An editorial in The Lancet explains that: “But now,… MORE

Trump’s foetal tissue review panel is ‘stacked’, say opponents

Human foetal tissue research has been touted as a pathway to studying the coronavirus as well as HIV, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. However, in the United States this is extremely controversial because of opposing views on the status of the foetus.  

Earlier this year the Trump Administration established a panel to review applications to use foetal tissue. Scientists are to be funded only if there are no adequate alternatives and if acquisition and disposal of the tissue are ethical. Afterwards, the panel’s recommendations are to be studied by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.


Father dragged from dying daughter’s bedside in UK intensive care ward

Disturbing footage has emerged of a father being dragged away from his dying daughter’s bedside in a hospital in the north of England after a dispute with staff about the withdrawal of life-support. 

The video, from a UK police officer’s bodycam, shows the moment that police arrived at the intensive care ward as respiratory expert Dr Rashid Abbasi -- who has worked in the UK's National Health Service for more than 30 years -- was holding the hand of his ailing daughter. 

Hospital staff had just informed Dr Abbasi and his wife that… MORE

International surrogacy goes pear-shaped

As the weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic march on, more evidence of the failure of the international surrogacy industry is emerging. Babies are being born to surrogate mothers in one country while the commissioning parents are in another country, unable to see them because the borders have been closed. It has been widely reported that more than a hundred of these cases exist in Ukraine and at least 40 in Georgia.

The Guardian this week reported that there are up to 1000 of these babies in Russia, some born as long ago as February. They are being… MORE

Belgium’s euthanasia law under fire in European Court of Human Rights  

Godelieva de Troyer

On April 19, 2012, a 64-year-old Belgian woman named Godelieva de Troyer was euthanised. For the doctor, Wim Distelmans, it was probably just another case. For her son, Tom Mortier, a chemistry lecturer, it came as a terrible shock. He only found out on the day after her death.

He has accused Distelmans of violating Belgium’s law on euthanasia. The case is now being considered by the European Court of Human Rights. As part of the legal proceedings, the Belgian government was forced to submit a four-page form which documents Godelieva… MORE

Of bikinis and vascular surgeons

At a time when “cancel culture” is a good candidate for the 2020 Oxford Word of the Year, retractions of journal articles in science and medicine give readers a special frisson.

The Journal of Vascular Surgery is not a place where one would normally encounter controversy. But one article in the August issue struck a deep vein of discontent. "Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons" and an accompanying commentary have been retracted after outrage on Twitter and Facebook.

On the face of it, the article appeared innocuous. It found that amongst 480 young vascular… MORE

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