IVF doctors up in arms over Trump’s SCOTUS pick

Medical and science journals have become far more politically active under the Trump Administration. The world’s most respected science publication, Nature, recently announced that it planned to rachet up its political advocacy to protect scholarly independence. Although it is often remarked that “political science” is an oxymoron, it even plans to publish more primary research in this area.

Following in Nature’s footsteps, perhaps, Fertility and Sterility, the voice of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, has blasted President Trump’s nominee for the US Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

In the 70-year history of Fertility and Sterility,… MORE

Let’s return to the basics of human experience, says bioethicist

It’s not often that a bioethics text gets rave reviews from both Francis Fukuyama and Leon Kass. However, What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics, from Harvard University Press seems to be making waves.

According to a review in Oxford’s Practical Ethics blog by Charles Camosy, the author, Carter Snead, of Notre Dame University, is about as important a contemporary voice in bioethics that we have today.. Hie basic argument in What It Means to Be Human runs like this:

“Most of public bioethics—perhaps for understandable reasons flowing from the… MORE

What factors can undermine our autonomy?

The argument for assisted suicide and euthanasia rests squarely on the doctrine of autonomy. As The Economist has pointed out: “Some activists for the rights of the disabled regard the idea that death could be better than a chronic condition as tantamount to declaring disabled people to be of lesser worth. We regard it as an expression of their autonomy.”

But even if this is granted, how do we know that people are really making an autonomous decision to end their lives? Addiction, brainwashing, trauma or fatigue obviously diminish personal autonomy. Are there other factors?

Two Australian bioethicists tackle… MORE

US: foetal abduction to end with a lethal injection

Lisa Montgomery

Capital punishment is always a bioethical issue – but there are few cases more strikingly related than Lisa Montgomery, who is scheduled to be executed with a lethal injection in a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on December 8.

Ms Montgomery’s crime was horrific. In 2004 she drove from Kansas to neighbouring Missouri to meet a pregnant woman named Bobbie Jo Stinnett. She strangled Mrs Stinnett, cut the baby out of her womb and returned home where she claimed that the baby was her own.

She was quickly arrested and charged with “kidnapping… MORE

Spain edges closer to legalizing euthanasia

Spain’s coalition government is attempting to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. Its right-to-die bill includes an "express euthanasia" service, with doctors visiting chronically ill patients at home, as well as in hospitals and clinics.

The government also intends to shorten waiting times between requesting and receiving euthanasia, to simplify consent rules, even for patients who have lost mental capacity, and to apply the law retrospectively so that doctors will not be punished for performing euthanasia before the law is passed.

Euthanasia was among the electoral pledges made by the two parties in Spain's ruling coalition. The legislation was introduced in… MORE

South Korea to loosen restrictions on abortion despite low birth rate

A bill to decriminalize abortion up to the fourteenth week of was tabled in the South Korean parliament this week.

South Korea has banned abortion since 1953. Exceptions were introduced in 1973, especially in cases of rape or incest. However, the Constitutional Court overturned the ban in April last year, considering that it restricted women's rights. The government has been ordered to draft a new law.

The draft bill bans abortion after 14 weeks except in cases of rape or incest, if the mother's health is at risk, or if the foetus shows signs of severe birth defects. Under these… MORE

A modern sultan boasts his virtual harem

In the age of the Reproductive Revolution, it’s an antiquated approach, but it works. An American named “Joe” claimed on British television that he has had 150 children scattered all over the world conceived through natural sex. “It’s more than the average person but there are people who have more. There’s some sultans out there who have more,” he told The Sun.

Lesbians, singles or women with infertile partners contact him by Facebook or email and ask for his services. "I started donating sperm in 2008 and have fathered on average 10 children per year. I have always said… MORE

Quick and faulty research a problem for journals in Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a flood of potentially substandard research amid the rush to publish, with a string of papers retracted or under a cloud and a surge in submissions to pre-print servers where fewer quality checks are made, a leading ethicist has warned in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

This has implications for patients, clinicians, and potentially government policy, says Katrina Bramstedt, of Bond University, in Australia, and Secretary General at Luxembourg Agency for Research Integrity.

The rapid spread of Covid-19 and its transition into a global pandemic propelled researchers to begin the search for treatments and… MORE

CRISPR scientists win Nobel Prize in chemistry

To no one’s surprise, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded this year to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for their 2012 discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.

This development allows scientists to do precision editing of the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms. “This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true,” says the Nobel committee. “These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.”


More family secrets unveiled in Netherlands

Another success for family reunions through genetic databases! A woman looking for her sperm donor father on the internet has discovered that he was a deceased gynaecologist who had fathered at least 16 other children. His patients believed that they were receiving fresh sperm from an anonymous donor.

The doctor, Jan Wildschut, worked from 1981 to 1993 at the fertility clinic of the former Sophia hospital, today called Isala hospital, in the eastern Dutch city of Zwolle. He died in 2009.

"A total of 17 donor children are currently known, in addition to the legal children of this former… MORE

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