New Mexico legalises assisted suicide

New Mexico has become the 11th American jurisdiction with assisted suicide.

On Thursday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act. “Dignity in dying — making the clear-eyed choice to prevent suffering at the end of a terminal illness — is a self-evidently humane policy,” said Lujan Grisham.

The new law takes effect on June 18. It will permit terminally ill patients with six months or less to live to request lethal medication. The diagnosis must be agreed upon by two medical experts, and the patient must pass a mental competency screening. After a 48-hour waiting… MORE





Vaccine passports spark controversy

Next stop in the coronavirus pandemic: vaccine passports. Rutgers University, the largest public college in New Jersey, recently announced it would require all its students to be vaccinated as a condition of enrolment beginning in September. The New York Mets are allowing their fans to attend games as long as they provide proof of a vaccine or a negative test for Covid-19.

Some businesses believe that their customers will return if they believe that they will be in a safe environment.

But passport boosters haven’t got a lot of company. The notion of requiring a certificate of vaccination dismays many… MORE





UK research review is sceptical of medical treatment for gender dysphoria

The biggest controversy in medicine at the moment is the appropriate treatment of children with gender dysphoria. Trans advocates claim that puberty blockers are important for their mental health and that they are reversible.

However, a preliminary study by the UK’s National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has found that the science supporting this view is of low quality.

In relation to body image and psychosocial impact, says NICE, the results “are of very low certainty”. “Studies that found differences in outcomes could represent changes that are either of questionable clinical value, or the studies themselves… MORE





Is abortion a global public health emergency?

Around the world, public health measures to cope with Covid-19 -- like social distancing and lockdowns -- have set an extraordinary precedent. It appears that to save thousands, even millions, of lives, people are prepared to accept serious limitations on their traditional freedoms.

The journal Bioethics has published an extraordinarily controversial article which explores whether this precedent could be applicable to abortion.

The direct target of the authors is Judith Jarvis Thompson’s famous argument in support of abortion. Most contemporary philosophers do not regard the foetus as a person; if this is the case, then abortion seems unproblematic. But… MORE





‘Dignity in dying’ legislation fails in France and Latvia

France: A bill to legalise euthanasia was smothered by delaying tactics in the French Parliament this week.

The bill was a personal initiative of Olivier Falorni, a deputy for the parliamentary splinter group Libertes et Territoires ("Freedom and Territories"). He says that the law would put a stop to a national "hypocrisy" because French residents often travelled to Belgium or Switzerland for assisted suicide. He claims that French doctors are already performing 2,000 to 4,000 euthanasia every year – but secretly.

The bill’s opponents filed about 3,000 amendments ahead of the debate which slowed down proceedings and made a vote… MORE





Brain organoids give rise to novel ethical complications

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Stem cell research has allowed medicine to go places that were once science fiction. Using stem cells, scientists have manufactured heart cells, brain cells and other cell types that they are now transplanting as a form of cell therapy. Eventually, the field anticipates the same will be possible with organs.

A new paper in AJOB Neuroscience by a group led by Tsutomu Sawai, of Kyoto University, reviews the ethical implications of research on brain organoids.

"Organoids" are organ-like structures. By recapitulating normal development, organoids have proven to be invaluable tools for understanding how… MORE





Knock-on effects of same-sex marriage continue

The legal consequences of same-sex marriage are still working themselves out. Now that sex is not relevant, what constitutes adultery? It is an important issue in some divorce cases.

Last week, in the United States, the New Hampshire Supreme Court unanimously ruled that same-sex extramarital affairs are adulterous.

The case arose in 2019. Robert Blaisdell claimed that because his wife Molly had a sexual relationship with another woman, he was entitled to seek divorce on fault-based grounds. However, a lower court took a narrow view of the law which declared that adultery was “sexual intercourse between persons of the… MORE





Mum and dad lite: parenting without sex, romance, co-habitation or marriage

A first date in 'Strangers Making Babies'

Amongst the myriad new family forms springing up as traditional marriage loses popularity is platonic co-parenting. This is not co-parenting after divorce, with all of its acrimony and competition for a child’s affection. Instead this involves two strangers making plans to conceive children (naturally or artificially) and taking joint responsibility for raising them -- but without marriage or living together.

According to Susan Golombok, director of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research and author of We Are Family, a book examining novel family structures, this is a “new… MORE





Tasmania becomes third Australian state to pass euthanasia

Cradle Mountain National Park, in Tasmania  

Tasmania has passed euthanasia, or voluntary assisted dying (VAD), legislation, making it the third state in Australia, after Victoria and Western Australia.

The new law will come into effect by the middle of 2022. There is an 18-month implementation period during which a Commission of Voluntary Assisted Dying will be set up. This will oversee the legal administration of VAD and will work out the finer details of how the legislation will be implemented. Doctors will need to complete a special training course.

"It's going to take a while to… MORE





Dutch euthanasia criticised in leading medical journal

JAMA Internal Medicine hosted a fiery debate about Dutch euthanasia this week. Geriatrician Diane Meier, of the Icahn School of Medicine, New York, responded feistily to critics of an editorial which she had written in December, headlined “The Treatment of Patients With Unbearable Suffering—The Slippery Slope Is Real”.

Two teams of Dutch physicians responded with reassurances that “all of these Dutch cases of physician-assisted suicide are characterized by a vital patient-physician relationship and that all these requests are voluntary and well considered” and that “instances of physician-assisted suicide always follow the letter of the law and never involve… MORE




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