Only 2 children euthanised in 3 years in Belgium

The news that the Belgian parliament had legalised euthanasia for children under 18 made news around the world in 2014. But what has actually happened since then?

According to the chairman of the Belgian euthanasia commission, Dr Wim Distelmans, only two children have been euthanised, both in or after 2016. "The situation is similar to the situation in the Netherlands, where five cases have been recorded in ten years,” he says. “We have only had two cases in three years.”

"We knew that there wouldn’t be many," says Professor Distelmans. "Some 100,000 adults die every year in Belgium for… click here to read whole article and make comments





R-rated short promotes ‘assisted dying’ in Australia

An R-rated snuff movie is an original way to promote euthanasia. But it is the marketing tactic being used by Go Gentle Australia, an assisted dying lobby group headed by media personality Andrew Denton.

"Stop The Horror is a short, five-minute film dealing with unimaginable pain and despair," a Go Gentle spokesperson told The Age. "It has been designed to be virtually unwatchable. The film confronts viewers with a harrowing retelling of the true events surrounding one man's traumatic death. The film is so confronting it has a stop button on screen so viewers can bail out whenever… click here to read whole article and make comments





BFF of Selena Gomez donates kidney

American pop singer Selena Gomez received a kidney transplant from her best friend, she revealed this week. Ms Gomez, 25, suffers from lupus and the disease was attacking her kidneys. TV actress Francia Raisa, 29, volunteered to donate hers. She wrote on Instagram that “there aren’t words to describe” how she can thank Raisa, who gave “the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney.”

Photos were released on Instagram of the two women side by side in hospital and of Ms Gomez displaying a very large scar on her abdomen.

Despite the public relations frenzy, very little information has… click here to read whole article and make comments





Let’s make surrogacy professional

Some surrogate mothers in California / Surrogate Alternatives

Two New Zealand academics have proposed a new model for handling surrogacy. At the moment, where surrogacy is allowed at all, it is either a private commercial transaction or an unpaid altruistic gesture. Liezl van Zyl and Ruth Walker, of the University of Waikato, have proposed a government-regulated system.

They want to see surrogacy move to a professional standing, legally regulated and with greater protection for intended parents, the planned baby, and the surrogate mother. It would not be about building a career, but recognizing the surrogate’s… click here to read whole article and make comments





American Nurses Association endorses VSED

Many patients require artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) at the end of life. But what should medical staff do when a patient seeks to hasten death by having ANH withdrawn? Despite the ethical complexities of the situation, medical guidelines are vague and, in some cases, non-existent.

But the American Nurses Association has issued a new position statement that categorically endorses “voluntary stopping of eating and drinking” (VSED). In the statement, the ANA asserts that “VSED at the end of life is used to hasten death, and is a reflection of autonomy and the patient’s… click here to read whole article and make comments





Wesley Smith on “justice for Jahi”

The legal dispute over Jahi McMath -- a 13-year-old American girl alleged to be brain dead -- has received renewed attention after a Californian judge ruled she may in fact be alive. A county jury will soon hear new evidence that McMath is healthy, undergoing puberty, and is responsive to oral communication, despite her severe neurological impairment.

This week bioethicist Wesley J Smith weighed into the debate, calling for “Justice for Jahi”. Smith writes that has visited McMath in hospital, and feels there is evidence to suggest that she no longer meets the criteria… click here to read whole article and make comments





Oxford researchers accused of giving babies unsafe TB drug

A team of Oxford University researchers have been accused of deception and misconduct during a large-scale tuberculosis trial on African infants that began in 2009.

Professor Peter Beverley, a former senior academic at Oxford, told the BBC that scientists tested a new tuberculosis vaccine on more than a thousand infants without sharing data suggesting that monkeys given the immunisation “die rapidly”.

According to Beverley, the new vaccine, known as MVA85A, was trialled on six monkeys 10 months before a funding application was made for the clinical trial on over 2,800 babies near… click here to read whole article and make comments





Planned Parenthood wins prestigious Lasker Award

Planned Parenthood, the world-wide foundation for promoting reproductive health care and sex education, has won the 2017 Lasker~Bloomberg Public Service Award. According to the Lasker Foundation,

Without Planned Parenthood, many individuals would not have access to high-quality and affordable health care. Although the organization is most famous for aiding women, it helps men as well. In 2015, its almost 650 U.S. health care centers served 2.4 million people.

The prestige of the Lasker Awards is so great that they are regarded as warm-ups for the Nobel Prize. So Planned Parenthood could be in the running for a… click here to read whole article and make comments





Is fear of being a burden a good reason for assisted suicide?

In Oregon, 48.9% of patients who ended their lives under the state’s assisted suicide act said that fear of being a burden was one of their reasons. We should be very worried by this, argues Charles Foster, a British medical ethicist, in the blog Practical Ethics.

Concern about being a burden should not be a criterion justifying assisted dying. That ‘being a burden’ is in the minds of so many patients at the end of life is a depressing index of the breakdown of familial obligations and expectations in the western world. It would have been unthinkable… click here to read whole article and make comments





Russian babies swapped at birth

Zoya's daughters Lucia (L) and Ekaterina. Picture: Zoya Tuganova

The theme of babies swapped at birth is probably more common in literature like the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta HMS Pinafore and Mark Twain’s novel The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson than it is in real life. But it happens, always raising heart-breaking issues of nature vs nurture, maternal attachment, and the need to find biological parents. 

The latest tragedy, as reported in the Siberian Times, comes from the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk. In 1987 two women gave birth to daughters… click here to read whole article and make comments




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