Do we need to rethink nursing homes?

An article in Harper’s Magazine on deaths in nursing homes during the Covid-19 pandemic is compulsory reading. About 40% of deaths in the United States have been in nursing homes. The figures are worse in other countries. According to journalist Andrew Cockburn, they may be as high as 75% in the UK and 64% in Norway.

But it is these paragraphs which should be considered in any discussion of the tragic pandemic:

the heavy death toll among the elderly might be traced to one main source: the neoliberal privatization craze that has swept the Western world over the… MORE

African-American women fare worse with abortion: study

The effects of abortion on African-American women seem to be significantly worse than on white or Hispanic women, according to data from Medicaid between 1999 and 2014.

A study published in Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology examined “pregnancy outcomes” in 7.4 million women. It found that if the first pregnancy, called the “index outcome”, were an abortion, women had “more lifetime pregnancies than women with index births or natural fetal losses and were increasingly more likely to experience another pregnancy with each subsequent pregnancy”.

This was the case across all ages and ethnic groups. However, the researchers, from… MORE

Fancy a vaginoplasty? Think again

The popular feminist website Jezebel has a blog called “Barf Bag”, which covers American politics in the age of Trump. But an investigative feature published this week, “When surgeons fail their trans patients” fits quite nicely under that rubric.

The focus of journalist Katelyn Burns’s article is a surgeon specialising in sex-reassignment about whom a number of patients have complained after unsatisfactory outcomes. The surgeon is quick to call in defamation lawyers – so BioEdge will not mention more details.

However, her larger point is that transgender surgery in the United States is a kind of Wild… MORE

It’s about more than pushing up daisies

The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a wide range of difficult ethical questions. Many relate to care for the vulnerable –care for the aged, distribution of vaccines, mandatory social distancing, and so on. But all these revolve around living people. What about those who have died?

In a thoughtful post in the blog of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Portuguese philosopher Luís Cordeiro-Rodrigues asks why we should mourn the dead. During the current troubles, many regretted that they could not mourn their loved ones properly because funerals are often prohibited or postponed.

But from both a Kantian and a… MORE

Free vial of sperm in Instagram giveaway

The latest chapter in the Reproductive Revolution comes from Nova Scotia. A Canadian lesbian influencer couple called Allie and Sam are offering a free vial of sperm donated an American sperm bank to one of their lucky 203,000 followers on Instagram.

“We are so, so excited to be partnering with Fairfax Cryobank to (hopefully!) help one of you grow your family,’ the "lgbt travel couple" wrote on Instagram. ‘Winner will receive credit for 1 vial of donor sperm (of your choice) from Fairfax Cryobank and free shipping, and will be announced and contacted via DM on August 20th. Contest… MORE

Russia rushes Covid-19 vaccine, dismaying bioethicists

Russia has become the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, even though it has only been tested on a few dozen people. According to AP, President Vladimir Putin declared that one of his two adult daughters had already been inoculated.

“I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity,” Putin said. “We must be grateful to those who made that first step very important for our country and the entire world.”

Scientists in other countries, and even in Russia, were aghast at the fact that the vaccine – which has been dubbed Sputkik 5 -- was… MORE

Are we heading towards ‘bioethics nationalism’?

The coronavirus pandemic is placing unprecedented strains not only on economies and hospitals, but on bioethics, renowned bioethicist Jonathan Moreno observes in the blog of The Hastings Center.

National prestige and financial reward are uniquely and powerfully combined in a global pandemic that threatens to revise history. If ever international bioethics norms could be compromised this is the time, a public health crisis that presents existential risks of geopolitical destabilization.

Perhaps, however, expedience should rule the day. It could be argued that this is precisely the situation that justifies deviations from norms, just as mandatory vaccination has… MORE

Some Flemish doctors support legalization of infanticide: survey

Physicians and other healthcare professionals in the Dutch-speaking regions of Belgium who are willing to do late abortions would also support the legalisation of infanticide, according to a survey published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.

“Almost nine out of ten respondents (89.1%) [who do late-term terminations] agree that in the event of a serious (non‐lethal) neonatal condition, administering drugs with the explicit intention to end neonatal life is acceptable,” the authors write.

They also are relaxed about late-term abortions: “Even in situations with an unclear diagnosis and unpredictable prognosis, 85.6% of professionals would still consider late… MORE

Animal rights score big win in Pakistan – but what about human rights?

Animal rights activists are cock-a-hoop about a recent ruling by the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan. In a judgement handed down in May, Chief Justice Athar Minhallah said that an Asian elephant named Kaavan, held in solitary confinement at the Islamabad Zoo, should be released to a sanctuary.

His decision begins with a reflection about how the coronavirus crisis has presented “an opportunity for humans to introspect and relate to the pain and distress suffered by other living beings” caused by “the arrogance” of humans. “Do the animals have legal rights?” he asked. And he continued: “The answer… MORE

The tide turns in the international surrogacy market

International surrogacy is often reviled as a system in which Western, mostly white people, exploit the bodies of women in underdeveloped countries, who are often women of colour. A typical feature in the media will display images of poor, heavily pregnant women in saris sleeping in a crowded dormitory.

But this is not the image of surrogacy in Japan, explains Yoshie Yanagihara, a sociologist at Tokyo Denki University in a fascinating article in the journal Bioethics. After studying portrayals of surrogacy in the Japanese media, she concludes that “The current situation in Asia flips this perspective—with white women regarded… MORE

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