Easily grossed-out? Obviously you’re conservative

Do you shudder at slime, gross out at gore, or cringe at creepy-crawlies? Well, you’re probably a political conservative and you almost certainly disapprove of gays and lesbians, according to researchers at Cornell University.

Study leader David Pizarro, working with academics from Harvard and Yale, surveyed 181 adults from swing states on both a standarised disgust sensitivity scale and a political ideology scale. This yielded a correlation between being easily grossed-out and political conservatism. To refine this, they linked 91 Cornell undergrads’ disgust sensitivity to their positions on gay marriage, abortion, gun control, labor… click here to read whole article and make comments

Kevorkian biopic in the studio

Kevorkian after his convictionThe career of flamboyant assisted suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian is to become a HBO movie. Barry Levinson, who directed Rain Man and Good Morning Vietnam has reportedly recruited Al Pacino to star as Kevorkian.

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan is outraged, because Kevorkian, who helped more than 130 people to die between 1990 and 1998 before being convicted of murder, set back the cause of assisted suicide for years. In his view, Kevorkian is an egotistical "nut" who ran a "24-hour, meet-greet-and-annihilate service".

"Kevorkian was always about Jack as much as… click here to read whole article and make comments

Novel idea to beat sperm shortage in UK

A British IVF doctor has come up with a novel idea to beat shortages in sperm banks. Dr Laurence Shaw, of The Bridge Centre, in London, suggests that men who want vasectomies should donate to an IVF clinic for a year before their operation. He describes it as a win-win situation. The donor gets a supply of back-up sperm should he wish to have more children after the vasectomy; the sperm bank increases its stock of sperm from men of proven virility; and the urologist gets a referral fee from the IVF clinic.

Dr… click here to read whole article and make comments

Collision with reality

This is what Professor Margaret Battin, of the University of Utah, wrote in her book on euthanasia: "We firmly believe that physician-assisted death should be one -- not the only one, but one -- of the last-resort options available to a patient facing a hard death. We agree that these options should include high dose pain medication if needed, cessation of life-sustaining therapy, voluntary cessation of eating and drinking, and terminal sedation." 

That was in 2004. On November 14 last year, her husband, Brooke… click here to read whole article and make comments

In Cold Blood

The murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas set off kilotonnes of controversy in the media this week. President Obama was outraged: "However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."

Dr Tiller was one of three American doctors who were willing to do late-term (after 21 weeks) abortions. For years he had been reviled by anti-abortion… click here to read whole article and make comments

Child welfare 1: why do parents need to approve of child euthanasia?

Why do doctors need the consent of parents before euthanasing a child? This is the startling question posed in the advance on-line issue of the journal Bioethical Inquiry. Jacob M. Appel, a freelance bioethicist with a liking for radical theories, proposes that “While, in theory, allowing parents to render their own decision as to ‘how much suffering is too much suffering’ is speciously appealing... caregivers are ultimately less suited to make such determinations than medical experts.”

click here to read whole article and make comments

Child welfare 2: the welfare of an unborn child is nonsense

If a child does not exist, what meaning can its “welfare” have? This is the unsettling question posed by the Norwegian writer B. Solberg in the Journal of Medical Ethics. The immediate application is to children born from IVF. Legislation governing IVF often stipulates that the welfare of the child is paramount. But this, in Solberg’s view, is nonsense if the child does not even exist. Certainly children born in the traditional way may have “interests”, but not ones whom… click here to read whole article and make comments

Can you trust scientists? Yes, but only 66% of them

After doctors and teachers, scientists belong to the most trusted profession in the US. So the results of a meta-analysis of their honesty is more than a little jarring. In an article in the journal PLoS One, Daniele Fanelli, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh found that about 2% of researchers had "fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once" and that up to 34% had admitted other questionable research… click here to read whole article and make comments

Govt stats show euthanasia rise in Netherlands

The number of official requests for euthanasia in the Netherlands increased by 10% in 2008 over the previous year, to 2,331, according to the latest government statistics. A total of 2,146 people were euthanased and 152 died in assisted suicides, while in 33 cases there was a combination of the two practices. Most people were suffering from cancer and most died at home. The figures come from an annual report published by five regional euthanasia… click here to read whole article and make comments

Dutch euthanasia activist jailed

A Dutch court has jailed the chairman of an assisted suicide lobby group for 10 months, 8 of them suspended, after he helped an 80-year-old woman to kill herself. The woman died in November 2007 after taking pentobarbital, which prosecutors said was supplied to her children by the lobbyist after doctors refused to help her.

Her children helped to administer the drug, but they were not charged. The lobbyist, who was not named in court documents, had contravened the letter of the Dutch law which only allows… click here to read whole article and make comments

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