UN experts alarmed at growing trend for ‘right to die’

Photo by Zhuo Cheng you on Unsplash

This week UN human rights experts expressed alarm at a growing trend to enact legislation enabling access to medically assisted dying based largely on having a disability or disabling conditions, including in old age.

“We all accept that it could never be a well-reasoned decision for a person belonging to any other protected group – be it a racial minority, gender or sexual minorities – to end their lives because they experience suffering on account of their status,” the experts said. “Disability should never be a ground or justification to end… MORE





Ireland’s politicians are debating ‘dying with dignity’

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Ireland’s journey down the path of progressive social legislation is proceeding at a dizzying pace. After legalising same-sex marriage in 2015 and abortion in 2018, the Oireachtas (legislature) has begun studying a “Dying with Dignity Bill”. It would allow doctors to kill patients if two of them agree that a patient met the criteria. The illness would have to be incurable, progressive, irreversible and terminal. There is no time limit, so the prospect of dementia could be reason enough to ask for death.

The bill, of course, is highly controversial.… MORE





Hawaii seeks to liberalise assisted dying two years after legalisation

Back in 2018

Assisted dying was legalised in Hawaii in 2018 and became operative on January 1, 2019. Only one report, for 2019, on the operation of the legislation has been published. Yet a bill, SB 323, has been introduced into the state legislature to relax some of the safeguards. It would allow registered nurses to practice medical aid in dying and to counsel patients; reduce the interval between two mandatory requests from 20 days to 15 days; and shorten the mandatory waiting period for terminally ill patients who might not survive long enough.

Michael… MORE





Bioethics if you’re ‘famous for being famous’

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.”

Did F. Scott Fitzgerald have the bioethics of the rich in mind? Probably not, but his words ring true anyway.

Thirty-nine-year-old Paris Hilton, the American heiress, media personality, businesswoman, socialite, model, singer, actress, and DJ, wants a baby, more precisely, she wants a boy and… MORE





Is abortion for Down Syndrome ‘eugenics’?

Aborting a child because tests show that he will have Down Syndrome is often described by its opponents as “eugenics”. This is fiercely contested. For instance, Mark Joseph Stern, a columnist for Slate, describes this idea as “both illogical and totally detached from reality”.

“Eugenics is the systematic elimination of specific people to alter the human gene pool. … There is no evidence that Americans who terminate pregnancies due to Down syndrome are seeking to systematically eliminate those with the condition from the face of the planet.”

This is a reasonably common idea to defend the… MORE





Should Biden appoint his own bioethics commission?

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all appointed expert commissions on bioethics during their administrations. Under President Donald Trump, there was none – although he ended up experiencing one of the  country’s most serious bioethical challenges in the Covid-19 crisis.

Will President Joe Biden appoint his own bioethics commission?

The New York City Bar Association has urged the new Administration to create a new bioethics commission so that research, health care and innovation can proceed in a “in a socially and ethically responsible manner”:

As the pandemic has tragically underscored, careful thought and deliberation are… MORE





Chinese actress dumped by Prada after she dumped her two surrogate babies

Chinese actress Zheng Shuang in her brief time as a Prada ambassador

Bioethical standards are loose and murky in China, but there are things which do provoke outrage. No, we are not talking about the alleged genocide of Xinjiang's Uyghurs. The issue du jour is that a popular model and actress, Zheng Shuang, has been accused by her estranged former partner of abandoning two children whom she commissioned from two surrogate mothers in the United States.

A wave of outrage swept through Chinese social media. As a result, she was immediately dumped by the luxury goods firm… MORE





How many embryos are frozen in China’s IVF clinics?

Over 200,000 IVF babies are born in China every year. This means that millions of embryos may be frozen in storage – even though most couples do not pay the annual fee.

This is creating a conflict of values for IVF clinics. On the one hand, keeping the embryos is expensive and takes up medical resources. On the other, they are very reluctant to destroy them. "At present, there are about 100,000 frozen embryos stored in the reproductive centre of our hospital that have not had the preservation fee paid. The fees of about 80,000 frozen embryos have not been… MORE





Why do euthanasia rates vary across the Netherlands?

There is a seven-fold unexplained variation in rates of euthanasia across The Netherlands, reveals an analysis of health insurance claims data, published online in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

It's not clear if these differences relate to underuse, overuse, or even misuse, say the researchers.

Official data show that the number of euthanasia cases has risen more or less continuously since 2006, reaching 6361 in 2019. These cases make up just a small proportion of all deaths, but they have doubled from just under 2% in 2002 to just over 4% in 2019.

To explore this further,… MORE





Radical right-to-die activists arrested in France

Ten members of the Ultime Liberté association, which campaigns in France for the legalization of assisted suicide, have been arrested for trafficking in the banned suicide drug pentobarbital.

Founded in 2009, Ultime Liberté is the radical wing of the right-to-die movement in France. It claims to have 3,000 members scattered throughout the country.

"Our goal is that euthanasia can legally have the right of citizenship in France " the magazine Marianne was told by one of its members. Ultime Liberté wishes to " obtain for any capable person the legal recognition of the freedom to choose the time,… MORE




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