Is a dementia patient two different people?

from 'Reflections of the Past', a photo series by Tom Hussey 

Canada’s new euthanasia legislation does not permit binding advance directives. However, there is pressure to incorporate them into legislation. Supporters argue that some people choose euthanasia too soon because they fear lingering on in a demented state.

In an acute analysis of the situation in the blog Impact Ethics, Valentina Romano points out that the “legalizing dementia-related advance directives ... is problematic because the justification rests on the assumption that dementia patients are simpler, faded versions of the healthy persons they once were.… click here to read whole article and make comments

UK Parliament to debate conscientious objection

Baroness O'Loan, former Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland  

A Northern Ireland peer has introduced a bill into the House of Lords to guarantee the controversial right to conscientious objection. Baroness Nuala O’Loan says that her Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill is needed to protect medical professionals:

Reasonable accommodation of conscientious objection is a matter both of liberty and equality: of individual freedom and social inclusion. No one should be coerced by the risk to their careers into violating their conscience, and it is plainly inconsistent with the principles of equality legislation to exclude whole… click here to read whole article and make comments

Another stem cell fraud in Japan

Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka has been dragged into a case of stem cell research fraud in his laboratory. This week Kyoto University found that the lead author of a 2017 paper in Stem Cell Reports, Kohei Yamamizu, had fabricated all six main images, which were “pivotal in the conclusions the author drew”.

Yamamizu is an assistant professor in a research group led by Yamanaka at Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application. There is no suggestion that Yamanaka was involved, but apparently he has even considered resigning from his position.

“[The fraud] is something that shakes the… click here to read whole article and make comments

British surgeon censured for branding patients’ livers

Dr Simon Bramhall   

A British surgeon who branded the livers of two of his patients with his own initials has been fined £10,000 and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service. Dr Simon Bramhall, a liver, spleen and pancreas surgeon, admitted the two incidents, which occurred in 2013. His registration has not been suspended. He now works for the National Health Service in Herefordshire. 

Although he seared his initials into the surface of the liver, no physical harm was suffered by the patients. In sentencing the surgeon, the judge said:

“Both of the… click here to read whole article and make comments

Rebel doctors and hospitals still targeted by Assad regime

Syrian medical facilities have experienced a dramatic increase in attacks, particularly in opposition-controlled areas of Hama and Idlib, according to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

PHR has received reports of 16 attacks between December 26 and January 8, concentrated in southern Idlib and northern Hama, eight of which PHR has independently verified. Medical workers have confirmed with PHR that most, if not all, facilities in the areas affected by the recent bombing campaign have been forced to close down or are operating at a very limited capacity.

“We haven’t seen this many facilities targeted in such a short period of time… click here to read whole article and make comments

Singapore sticks with old-fashioned parenting model

A gay couple has created a conundrum for the Singaporean government by attempting to adopt a child born of an American surrogate mother. The two unnamed men, both Chinese, aged 45 with high salaries, paid a California woman US$200,000 to provide an egg and to gestate a baby, who was born in 2013.

Singapore has no law on surrogacy, but has forbidden commercial interest in adoption. On December 27, Judge Shobha Nair ruled that the two men could not adopt the child, leaving him in a legal limbo. In a stinging ruling, she declared that paying the surrogate mother… click here to read whole article and make comments

France opens national bioethics debate

This week France launched a six-month long national consultation on hot-button bioethical issues. The results, involving scientists, medical practitioners, lawyers and the public, will help to shape a revised bioethics law, perhaps later this year.

The list of topics is long: from legalizing euthanasia to the development of artificial intelligence to organ donation to surrogacy for gay couples to genetic engineering. Debate is sure to be passionate and highly political.

Under President Emanuel Macron, the government has promised to update France’s laws on assisted reproduction, which currently limit the practice to heterosexual couples. According to France 24, “The restrictive… click here to read whole article and make comments

Dissent in Dutch euthanasia bureaucracy

A medical ethicist has resigned from a Dutch regional assessment committee for euthanasia over a law which allows non-consenting demented patients to be euthanised. For ten years Berna van Baarsen helped to assess whether euthanasia had been performed in accordance with the law in the North Holland region. She resigned on January 1. “'I do not believe that a written declaration of intent can replace an oral request for incapacitated patients with advanced dementia,” she told the magazine Medisch Contact.

Under Article 2.2 of the Dutch euthanasia law, a doctor may euthanize a patient who can no longer… click here to read whole article and make comments

Trump burnishes his pro-life credentials at DC rally

President Trump at a live broadcast from the Rose Garden / New York Times

If anyone were in doubt about where Donald Trump stood on abortion, his speech to the annual March for Life in Washington DC on Friday will settle the matter. Speaking by video hook-up to a crowd of tens of thousands, the President said "under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence and that is the right to life".

“Today, we focus our attention on the love and protection each person, born and unborn, deserves… click here to read whole article and make comments

Trump administration moves to defend conscience rights

The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the HHS’s Office for Civil Rights will handle complaints related to participation in controversial medical practices such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and gender reassignment. Federal officials said the division will allow HHS to "more vigorously and effectively" enforce laws related to conscience and religious freedom.

"Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren't enforced”, said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights. “No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one's deepest moral or… click here to read whole article and make comments

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