Dutch woman sues to open file on sperm donor dad

Photo by Ian on Unsplash

Maria, a 21-year-old Dutch woman is suing to identify her sperm donor father. At the time of conception, her biological father agreed to be contacted. But he withdrew his permission later on, as the woman discovered when she tried to get in touch in 2017.

The donor is known only as K34. The Rijnstate hospital in Arnhem is shielding his identity. It appears that at least 57 children have been conceived with his sperm. Maria has been in touch with 13 of them – but she is the only… MORE

Dutch doctor in court over euthanasia of demented woman

For the first time since legalisation in 2002, a Dutch doctor has appeared in court for performing euthanasia. Prosecutors allege that the doctor did not do enough to confirm that a demented patient still wanted to proceed with her advance directive.

In 2016 the relatives of a 74-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s and two doctors decided that the time had come to carry out those instructions. They put a sedative in her coffee and a doctor commenced a lethal injection. But the woman resisted and her daughter and husband had to wrestle her down to give her the needle.


Oxytocin could relieve Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a nasty mental illness. Sufferers believe that parts of their body look ugly, malformed, misshapen or hideous. It leads them to pick and scratch at imagined blemishes and to have cosmetic surgery. They become socially isolated and even housebound.

(A rarer and more severe form of the disorder is body integrity dysphoria or apotemnophilia. Patients with this condition are obsessed with having a limb amputated or becoming blind or deaf. It’s quite bizarre, but in the 1990s a Scottish surgeon amputated healthy legs for two men with the condition.)

Treatment is difficult. But Australian researchers… MORE

Why the mentally ill deserve access to assisted suicide

Not waving but drowning / Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

A state of non compos mentis might seem like an excellent reason to remove people from the pool of those eligible for euthanasia. But what if they had signed an advance directive instructing their carers to have them euthanised if they became non compos mentis? What if they float in and out of dementia? What if they seem happy with their life?

This is one of euthanasia’s most sternly contested battlefields. In a recent article on the Journal of Medical Ethics website, Australian philosopher… MORE

Is ‘reproductive freedom’ a dinosaur?

The 20 or so candidates for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 Presential run are hawking different policies to make them stand out from the crowd. New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker has come up with one of the most original: a “White House Office of Reproductive Freedom”. This would coordinate policies on abortion and related issues throughout the Federal Government.

But Senator Booker may actually be behind the times. “Reproductive freedom” has been a progressive dogma for so long that the most progressive of the progressives are tiring of it. Quite a number of bioethicists are questioning whether the… MORE

When your fertility doctor gets a bit too involved

In the era of artificial reproduction, an unexpected hazard has been discovered: doctors who use their own sperm. Dr Jody Madeira, of Indiana University, has studied more than 20 cases in the United States and in other countries. Wayward doctors have turned up in a dozen states, including Connecticut, Vermont, Idaho, Utah and Nevada, as well as in England, South Africa, Germany and the Netherlands.

 Dov Fox, a bioethicist at the University of San Diego and the author of “Birth Rights and Wrongs,” summed up the bizarre trend in a single word: “gross”.  “In a couple more: shocking, shameful.… MORE

After 5 years, defying the doctors, Li Zhihua wakes up

A Chinese man has regained consciousness after five years in a coma during which his wife nursed him every day, all day.  

Li Zhihua, of Hubei Province, was seriously brain-damaged after being knocked off his scooter in 2013. His wife, 57-year-old Zhang Guihuan, became his sole carer.  

Doctors initially thought that Li would remain in a persistent vegetative state. However, Zhang was determined to prove them wrong.

Day after day, she stayed at Li’s bedside, chatting with him, playing his favourite songs, feeding him, and cleaning him. After regaining consciousness last year, he is undergoing rehabilitation to help… MORE

Japanese scientists find simple method of sex selection

A simple, reversible chemical treatment can segregate X-bearing sperm from Y-bearing sperm, allowing dramatic alteration of the normal 50/50 male/female offspring ratio, according to a new study by Masayuki Shimada and colleagues at Hiroshima University, published in PLOS Biology.

The study was performed in mice, but the technique is likely to be widely applicable to other mammals as well, including humans.

Most cells from male mammals contain both an X and a Y chromosome, but during sperm development (spermatogenesis), the X and Y chromosomes are segregated into different cells so that an individual sperm will carry either one or the… MORE

Germline editing may be far from meeting legal standards in US

Proposed trials in germline editing – the deliberate modification of genes passed on to children and future generations – would need to meet high legal standards before current bans are lifted in the US. This is highly unlikely, according to bioethicist Jennifer M. Gumer, of Columbia University. She argues in The Hastings Center blog that the risks presented by germline editing for a child-to-be are not outweighed by direct benefits.

Gumer’s analysis was prompted by a recent proposal from Russian scientist Denis Rebrikov to produce gene edited babies. He intends to be the second scientist to edit the human… MORE

Conscientious objection: how much discretionary power should physicians have?

There has been significant debate about conscientious objection in healthcare in recent years. Some scholars have argued that conscience protections in law and professional codes of conduct may lead to negligence in medical care and may put patient wellbeing at risk. For example, Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu has argued that conscience protections open a “Pandora's box of idiosyncratic, bigoted, discriminatory medicine”, and that “public servants must act in the public interest, not their own”. 

But should physicians have the right to exercise professional discretion with patients? 

Some scholars, such as Daniel Sulmasy, argue that… MORE

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