US company offers IVF risk test for low intelligence

An American genomics company is negotiating with IVF clinics to provide a risk test for embryos with intellectual disability. Genomic Predictions claims that it can offer prospective parents a risk profile for a range of conditions, like breast cancer, diabetes and low intelligence, which are caused by the interaction of several genes.

Nathan Treff, a co-founder of the company, told The Times (London) that this is an extension of screening that currently exists for conditions such as Down’s syndrome. “Chromosomal abnormalities are already evaluated,” he said. “For complex disorders, though, we have to evaluate the entire genome in… MORE





Assessing the financial side of egg-freezing

Is egg freezing for social reasons cost-effective? An Israeli IVF specialist argues in Reproductive Biomedicine Online that while egg freezing is here to stay, few patients and doctors are asking hard questions about its cost, especially in the face of demands that governments support large-scale “fertility preservation” programmes.

Zion Ben-Rafael says that research suggests that social egg freezing is “only cost-effective with a usage rate of 50% or over, and when getting married is not set as a condition”. However, recent studies have found that the rate of using frozen eggs is between 3.1 and 9.3%. This prices the… MORE





Ohio House passes fetal heartbeat abortion bill

The Ohio House of Representatives this week passed an abortion bill that would ban terminations after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The state’s Republican dominated House voted 65-30 in favour of the proposed law, and a similar result is expected in the senate later this year.

The bill would make performing an abortion on a fetus with a heartbeat a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to one year in prison or a $2500 fine.

The state’s governor-elect Mike DeWine is in favour of the legislation; outgoing governor John Kasich… MORE





Euthanasia legislation to be introduced in WA in 2019

The government of Western Australia plans to introduce euthanasia legislation next year, according to an announcement this week by State Health Minister Roger Cook.

Mr Cook said that the government plans to introduce a bill into parliament in the second half of 2019, and that it has appointed an expert panel to help draft the bill.

Mr Cook said the bill “will provide those individuals who are experiencing grievous and irremediable suffering associated with advanced and progressive terminal conditions with an additional choice.”

In August a parliamentary committee investigating… MORE





Women arrested in Cambodia surrogacy crackdown

The crackdown on commercial surrogacy continued in Cambodia this week with a major court charging 18 people for violating laws against surrogate births.

A spokesman for Phnom Penh Municipal Court said that 11 surrogate mothers and four other people had been charged with surrogacy and human trafficking. Three more people were charged with conspiracy but did not appear.

The legal proceedings come in the wake of the arrest 32 pregnant Cambodian women in Phnom Penh in June, who allegedly were carrying babies for clients in China.

Chou Bun Eng,… MORE





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




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