Canadians and Dutch fail to shift World Medical Association opposition to euthanasia

A view of Reykjavik

The pro-euthanasia Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Dutch Medical Association(KNMG) have failed in their bid to change the position of the World Medical Association. The CMA and the KNMG prepared a resolution at this year’s WMA meeting in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, but withdrew it for lack of support, according to a report from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

The August issue of the WMA’s World Medical Journal contained reports from several regions where doctors had debated end-of-life care. In Brazil the local association declared that “if the doctor is… MORE

If you cannot remember a crime, should you be executed for it?

On April 18, 1985 Vernon Madison shot an Alabama police office in the back of the head at point blank range. He was tried three times for the crime and sentenced to death in 1994. He has been living on death row ever since. He is now 68 years old.

There is no doubt that he committed the crime. But his defence lawyers contend that after suffering two strokes in 2015 and 2016 he cannot remember it. Should he be executed?

His case has come before the US Supreme Court.

The Alabama Attorney General's office questions whether his amnesia… MORE

UK govt bodies clash over transgender fertility treatment

A government human rights agency in the UK plans to sue the government health service for not helping transgender patients to transition.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission claims that the National Health Service is obliged to provide fertility services for transgender patients with gender dysphoria, a treatment that normally results in a loss of fertility. If their sperm or eggs are frozen and stored, it is still possible for them to have children later in life.

But since many of these patients are teenagers, they cannot afford this. The EHRC claims that this constitutes discrimination against transgenders. The NHS… MORE

Documentary makes powerful plea for open access publishing

Nothing warms the cockles of the heart like righteous outrage, so quite a few readers of BioEdge will be interested in Paywall, a documentary on academic publishing. Its argument is simple. Knowledge should be free. Academic journals aren’t free. Therefore the system is broken. Why does a US$25.2 billion industry coast along with profit margins of about 30% -- when an “evil corporation” like Walmart only has a profit margin of 3%? The world needs open access publishing!

The attack on the current model may be unfair, but you can’t say that it isn’t provocative and fascinating. Paywall: the… MORE

Australian man convicted of counselling his wife to suicide

An Australian man has been found guilty of “counselling” his wife to commit suicide -- a conviction that appears to have no precedent in Australia or internationally.

Graham Morant, 69, was convicted by a Queensland Supreme Court jury on Tuesday of both counselling and aiding his 56-year-old wife Judy to take her own life. Mrs Morant suffered from chronic pain, but was not terminally ill.

The court hear that Mr Morant stood to gain A$1.4 million in life insurance from his wife’s death.

Judy Morant was found dead alongside… MORE

Japan set to allow gene editing of human embryos

Japan is set to allow the gene editing of human embryos, with an expert panel representing the country’s health and science ministries releasing new guidelines late last month.

Although the country regulates the use of human embryos for research, there have been no specific guidelines on using tools such as CRISPR–Cas9 to make precise modifications in their DNA until now.

The new guidelines will allow for research to be carried out on early-stage embryos, with scientists hoping to gain insight into early human development and perhaps eventually fix genetic mutations that cause… MORE

Canada: the latest surrogacy hotspot?

Canada may have become a hotspot for international surrogacy, with data suggesting that almost half of intended parents in some provinces live abroad.

Writing in The Globe and Mail, journalist Alison Motluck recounts how loopholes in Canada’s surrogacy law, and increasing restrictions on surrogacy in other countries, have contributed to an apparent spike in foreign intending parents having children via Canadian surrogates.

Precise figures are not publicly available and some provinces do not keep records of parents’ residency. Yet legal scholar Pamela White from the University of Kent recently obtained data from… MORE

What are the ethical complications of a womb transplant?

In 2014, the first child to have been gestated in a donated uterus was born in Sweden. Although research into uterus transplantation is still in an early phase, many see the donations as a success. But are there ethical complications as well?

Thus far, trials around the world have resulted in the birth of ten children who were gestated in a transplanted uterus; eight of them in Sweden.

"If uterus transplantation is to take the step from trials to becoming a reality in the Swedish healthcare system, there must first be an ethical debate on the procedure," says Lisa Guntram,… MORE

Forget about those split infinitives: editors can have heavy moral responsibilities

Cast study 1: A recent Danish study found that antibiotics could be useful for treating the symptoms of a widespread chronic disease. But publishing the study was difficult. At least one reviewer noted that the study could lead to an increased use of antibiotics and thus ultimately adding to the problem of microbial multi-resistance.

Case study 2: The BMJ recently published an article suggesting that side-effects of statins may outweigh health benefits in patients at low and intermediate risk of cardiovascular disease. The article sparked intense debate, even in the mass media. As a result it is estimated that as… MORE

Editor bans religious arguments from bioethics journal

The editor of Developing World Bioethics, Udo Schüklenk, has decided to ban from his journal any articles whose assumptions are religious. “After much thought we have decided to more significantly limit exclusively religious contributions.”

Why? It’s not out of an anti-religious bias but because “Religion based arguments are, by definition, arguments that do not fall into the category of public‐reason based arguments.”

They rely on premises involving the existence of unobservable supernatural powers giving us direction in terms of how we must live our lives. Typically their guidance is provided in religious documents the content of which… MORE

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