HMS Bioethics Journal launched

Harvard Medical School has published the inaugural issue of a bioethics journal, called – wait for it! --- Bioethics Journal. The editorial team explains:

Our goals in publishing the Bioethics Journal are to recognize and anticipate the ethical aspects of new bioscientific knowledge; to report bioethics research, as well as what is empirically known about ethical problems and alternatives for addressing them; to offer ethical analyses and recommendations; and, most importantly, to provide an open and free forum for professional and public discussion about the ethical challenges of our time.

The official name of the journal is Harvard Medical School… click here to read whole article and make comments

Study fails to discount link between fertility treatment and cardiovascular disease

The authors of the first meta-study of links between fertility treatment and cardiovascular disease have called for more research after concluding that “The longer term cardiovascular effects of fertility therapy are unknown”. In an article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology researchers from McGill University in Montreal reported said there are “ongoing knowledge gaps to inform the longer term CV risk or safety of fertility therapy”.

Part of the problem is that the authors of the study could only identify six studies – which involved 40,000 women – of the risk of CV events after fertility… click here to read whole article and make comments

Are ‘brain dead’ patients really dead?

A new article in the Journal of Medical Ethics challenges conventional accounts of human death, and calls for a “new consensus” on the ethics of vital organ transplantation.

Bioethicists Michael Nair-Collins, of Florida State University College, and Frank Miller, of Weill Cornell Medical College, assert that patients who are brain dead may nevertheless be said to have retained the integrated functioning characteristic of human life. This is the case even when the patient is supposedly “dependent” on a ventilator.

The authors observe that that mechanical interventions (such as a ventilator) do not in and of themselves allow for the… click here to read whole article and make comments

“Vulnerable populations”: a necessary concept in research ethics?

How important is the label “vulnerable populations” in research ethics?

“Vulnerable populations” are groups of individuals who in one or more ways are at risk of harm through research; research ethics committees often use the term to identify groups that are at risk in particular research projects.

In recent years scholars have criticised the use of this term, as it lacks a sensitivity to contextual factors that impact on the vulnerability of individuals -- pregnant women, for example, may be more or less vulnerable depending on the stage of gestation or the… click here to read whole article and make comments

The ethical imperative for AI researchers

How can we stop AI robots from becoming killing machines? Ethicists are offering various answers.

One option is to ensure that AI robots are trained by scientists to make the right decisions in complex ethical scenarios. Where an autonomous machine is confronted with a difficult situation -- on the road, in the air, or in our homes and hospitals -- it could be “taught” by human beings to choose the right course of action.

Just as researchers have trained an AI system to play Pong and Space Invaders, so too could scientists train self-driving cars in how to handle… click here to read whole article and make comments

Another anti-vaxxer barred from entering Australia

A prominent American anti-vaccination campaigner has been barred from entering Australia, after immigration minister Peter Dutton deemed his views to be against “national interests”.

Mr Dutton believes that Kent Heckenlively -- who describes himself as the “world’s no.1 anti-vaxxer” -- will undermine the new federal government A$5.5 million vaccination education campaign, aimed at dispelling myths about the risks of vaccination. Dutton commented:

"These people who are telling kids, telling parents that their kids shouldn't be vaccinated are dangerous people …  it is clear to me that it is not in our national interest that [Heckenlively] should come here.”

click here to read whole article and make comments

How much have we done for ‘the world’s largest humanitarian crisis’?

Here’s what the United Nations has to say about Yemen, which is in the grip of a civil war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government, with ISIS and al-Qaeda doing their best to add chaos to the chaos:

“This is the world’s worst cholera outbreak in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. In the last three months alone, 400,000 cases of suspected cholera and nearly 1900 associated deaths have been recorded. Vital health, water and sanitation facilities have been crippled by more than two years of hostilities, and created the ideal conditions… click here to read whole article and make comments

Tandem IVF: anything to guarantee a baby

IVF clinics are always looking for a competitive advantage. “Tandem IVF” seems to be the latest suite of techniques to attract older women with low fertility to the clinics.

In many countries it would be banned, but where IVF is relatively unregulated some clinics offer this option even though it has a number of ethical complications.  

The technique works like this. In treating a woman over 40, most clinics would first try to achieve a pregnancy using her own eggs. If this fails, they would offer the option of donor eggs. Clinics offering tandem IVF are able to offer… click here to read whole article and make comments

IVF competition forces prices down in Australia

Australian IVF companies are experiencing slow growth despite having lowered the price of basic fertility treatments.

Two of Australia’s biggest IVF providers, Virtus and Monash IVF, this week reported sluggish annual growth. Virtus’ annual profit slumped 15 per cent to $28.1 million in the 2016/17 financial year, while Monash IVF managed only a very modest net profit increase.

Monash and Virtus recently introduced low cost treatments to match the budget services offered by new provider Primary Health Care.

Low cost Virtus clinics now offer cycles for out-of-pocket costs… click here to read whole article and make comments

Anti-vaxxer resistance movement hits headlines in Australia

Anti-vaxxing was in the headlines in Australia this week, with revelations that at least three Victorian doctors are under investigation for granting unwarranted exemptions to parents of unvaccinated children.

The Herald Sun reports that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is investigating claims of an “underground network of anti-vaccination doctors” who have “helped hundreds of families avoid compulsory immunisations”. The newspaper reports that one doctor, Dr. John Piesse, has allegedly helped over 600 families to avoid compulsory vaccination.

The Australian Federal Government introduced controversial vaccination legislation in 2016 that… click here to read whole article and make comments

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