Michelle Obama opens up about her IVF children

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama has revealed that her two children were conceived by IVF in a new memoir, Becoming, that is due for release on Tuesday.

Mrs Obama writes that she sought IVF following a miscarriage 20 years ago. The former first lady said realized that "the biological clock is real" and that "egg production is limited", which made her decide to seek in-vitro fertilisation.

According to The Association Press, who obtained an advanced copy of the book, Mrs Obama also describes the strain on her marriage when her husband Barack… MORE

Dutch authorities to prosecute euthanasia doctor

For the first time in the history of the Netherlands euthanasia regime, authorities will prosecute a doctor for breaching euthanasia guidelines when ending the life of a patient.

The Board of Procurators General -- a public prosecutor that oversees criminal investigations related to euthanasia -- said that it would pursue a case against a geriatrician who euthanised a women with advanced dementia in April 2016.

Following an investigation into the case, authorities concluded that the patient’s living will was “unclear and contradictory”. And although the woman had regularly stated that she wanted… MORE

Wife critical of journalist husband’s trip to Swiss suicide clinic

Deborah and Simon Binner  

The journalist wife of a Sky News journalist has written a memoir chronicling her reaction to her husband’s one-way trip to a Swiss suicide clinic. Deborah Binner is bitterly critical of the decision her spouse Simon made to seek assisted suicide after being stricken with a fast-moving form of motor neurone disease.

She writes from an unusual perspective in her book Yet Here I Am, because she had nursed her 18-year-old daughter Chloë who died of cancer three years earlier. She observed that the two deaths were very different. After her… MORE

FGM has fallen over past three decades

FGM is still widespread in Iraq 

The prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting among girls up to the age of 14 has fallen sharply in most regions of Africa over the past three decades, according to a report in BMJ Global Health.

But the rates of decline vary widely by country and the practice is still pervasive in Iraq and Yemen.

The prevalence of FGM/cutting varied widely among and within countries and regions during the survey periods. The decline was steepest in East Africa, followed by North and West Africa.

Prevalence fell from 71.4 per cent in 1995… MORE

Australian assisted suicide a world first

An Australian man has been jailed for ten years for pressuring his wife to commit suicide. It was an unusual case which was described as “the first time in the world a person has been sentenced for coercing someone to kill themselves”. Graham Morant, a 69-year-old self-styled religious pastor, persuaded his chronically ill and depressed wife Jennifer, 56, to die by gassing herself in a car after making him the beneficiary of three life insurance policies worth A$1.4 million. Her body was found by police on November 30, 2014 with a note saying “please do not resuscitate me”.

Morant… MORE

Will Canada continue to ban advance directives?

Friends bid Audrey Parker good-bye /  Chris Donovan, Globe and Mail 

Audrey Parker, a 57-year-old Canadian living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was euthanised on November 1. She suffered from an aggressive breast cancer which had spread to her bones and the lining of her brain. She would have preferred to die after Christmas and New Year, but she feared that that might have lost competence by then – and under Canada’s euthanasia legislation, only competent patients can request euthanasia.

Ms Parker used her dilemma to advocate for a change in the law to permit advance directives for… MORE

Mother seeks to swap female embryo for a male embryo

A New York mother has attracted international media attention for trying to swap a female embryo for a male embryo via social media.

37-year-old Lisa currently has one five-year-old son, but says that she is desperate to give her boy a little brother. “My husband grew up with sisters and wants a boy too”, she told the New York Post. “This is the way we want to complete our family”.

The woman has one embryo left over from multiple rounds of IVF. She has left messages on several IVF-support group Facebook pages,… MORE

Surrogacy under threat after Trump vows to remove birthright citizenship

Bioethics in American politics. Donald Trump’s vow to remove the right to citizenship to babies born in the United States to immigrants and non-citizens has an unexpected bioethical angle. As Australian surrogacy lawyer Stephen Page points out, this could put a dent in the booming US surrogacy market.

At the moment, a baby born in the US to a surrogate mother automatically bcomes a US citizen under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. This makes commercial surrogacy in the US a popular market with wealthy foreigners, especially Chinese. “There is rarely a surrogacy law conference I go to in the… MORE

Did the leader in California’s governor’s race assist his mother’s suicide?

More bioethics in American politics. As election day on Tuesday approaches, Democrat Gavin Newsom has a commanding lead in the race for governor of California. Newsom, often described as a “Kennedy-esque” figure, is currently lieutenant-governor. A flattering profile in this week’s issue of The New Yorker unpacks his campaign slogan, “Courage for a Change”: “Newsom seeks to embody [Bobby] Kennedy’s grainy glamour, to provide moral clarity in a bewildering hour.”

The moral clarity is not evident on bioethical issues. On the one hand, he has insisted that he identifies as a Catholic. “I still maintain a strong sense of… MORE

Merck & Co attacked after it pulls out of West African deal to supply rotavirus vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co is under fire for ending a six-year agreement to supply a life-saving vaccine for children in four countries in West Africa at a heavily discounted price. At the same time, Merck has ramped up its supply to China at a much higher price.

As an example of the outrage at the news, here’s a tweet from Chelsea Clinton: “As a result of Merck's decision, more than a half-million children in West Africa may not receive the vaccine in 2018 and 2019 ... And more than 2 million may go without the vaccination in 2020.… MORE

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