Will IVF turn around Japan’s declining population?

Five percent of Japanese babies are due to IVF – one of the highest rates in the world. Still, according to The Economist, “No country resorts to IVF more than Japan—or has less success”.

Japan’s population is less than half of the US, but it has a third more fertility clinics.

Fewer than 10% of IVF treatments succeed, says Yoshimasa Asada, a fertility specialist, and the proportion is falling. “We have the world’s highest IVF numbers and the lowest success rate,” he told The Economist. “It’s an embarrassment.”

Many factors are at play. Japan’s unique social standards play a… MORE

3-parent babies: Singapore and Ukraine

Singapore could become the second country after the United Kingdom to legalize three-parent babies, a technique for giving birth to children who would otherwise have a genetic disease. Technically known as mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), the procedure was legalised in 2016 in Britain after a long and intense debate in the media and Parliament.

Singapore is trying to foster cutting-edge biological science and follows developments elsewhere carefully. “Our position is to keep a close watch on what happens in the UK, to track the UK experience, and to learn from what they have done,” geneticist Oi Lian Kon told… MORE

What are the five best arguments against euthanasia?

As medical societies around the world consider changes to their position on euthanasia, several influential doctors and ethicists have co-published a commentary in the Journal of Palliative Care opposing any policy change.

Among the authors of the article, entitled “Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Emerging Issues From a Global Perspective”, are Georgetown University’s Daniel Sulmasy, who served on President Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, Margaret Somerville, a legal scholar and one of the most vocal opponents of the legalisation of euthanasia in Canada, and influential palliative care specialist Lukas Radbruch.

The authors summarise what… MORE

Is China raising its animal ethics standards?

Gene-editing research has developed at a much faster rate in China compared to Western nations, and many attribute this to the lack of bioethics regulation in the country. Yet are things changing?

A new feature article in The Atlantic gives insight into the ethical considerations that enter into the research processes of leading genetics and animal research teams in mainland China.

It would appear from some of the more controversial research projects conducting in the country -- such as the cloning of monkeys -- that very little ethics oversight takes… MORE

Is euthanasia the next step for Ireland after abortion?

Hard on the heels of Ireland’s historic approval of abortion in a constitutional referendum last week comes a bill to legalise euthanasia. Junior minister John Halligan is working on draft legislation which will be introduced Dáil by a Government on his behalf.

It’s not clear whether the bill would sanction euthanasia or only assisted suicide.

Mr Halligan has been heartened by the public’s response to the abortion debate. They showed "courage and compassion" and polls indicate that they would endorse a “right-to-die”. He also believes that a Citizen’s Assembly, similar to the one preceding the recent referendum, is needed.


Is it immoral to love your kids because they are related to you?

There is a slow-moving debate over at the Journal of Medical Ethics on whether it is moral or immoral to desire to be biologically related to one’s children. While many might find this preposterous, it appears more sensible if it is compared to racism. People nowadays are troubled by the notion that we should have more affection for people who look like us. Why should parental affection be treated differently?

The question seems to be sparked by uneasiness over the legal and moral status of reproductive technologies. IVF, for instance, makes it possible to raise children whose link to at… MORE

Portugal: Communists firmly oppose euthanasia

A demonstration opposing euthanasia in Portugal / Morning Star 

A footnote to last week’s story about the narrow defeat of euthanasia in Portugal’s parliament. The vote was 115-110 and failed because the Communist Party opposes euthanasia. Communist MP Antonio Filipe explained why in the Morning Star, a British socialist newspaper (once known as the Daily Worker):

[Euthanasia is] “not as a sign of progress but a step towards civilisational retrogression with profound social, behavioural and ethical implications.

“In a context in which the value of human life is frequently made conditional on criteria… MORE

Most Americans support some form of the ‘right to die’: Gallup poll

The latest Gallup poll shows that a broad majority of Americans, 72%, continue to believe that a doctor should be legally allowed, at a patient's and a family's request, to end a terminally ill patient's life using painless means.

The level of support depends on the wording of the question. The Gallup poll describes euthanasia, but does not use the word.

Men, young adults, Democrats and liberals are especially likely to approve of legally and painlessly ending a terminally ill patient's life. Support drops below a majority only among weekly churchgoers.

Opinions have changed dramatically since Gallup first gauged… MORE

What will happen to California’s assisted suicide law?

Last month BioEdge reported on the decision by a California county court judge to overturn the state’s assisted suicide law. Since then, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed an appeal to the county court, and asked the 4th District Court of Appeal to allow the law to stay in place while the “appeals process” took place. But the district court refused, and on Friday Riverside County Superior Court judge Daniel A. Ottolia issued a formal judgement that deemed the law to be “unconstitutional”. Legal experts say that this means the law has been overturned -- for… MORE

Lookism, and what we should do about it

There are many “isms” that pop up in debates about discrimination -- “racism”, “sexism”, “ageism”, “ableism”, and so on. But in addition to these, a new “ism” has surfaced in the literature on discrimination -- “lookism”.

“Lookism” refers to discrimination against people who are unattractive, or, to use a technical term, “aesthetically unfortunate”. On the basis of “lookist” prejudice, ugly people may be barred from certain jobs and paid less by their employers, in addition to being less likely to make friends and find a partner. While “lookism” is not usually included within analyses of… MORE

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