Three women, two babies, one IVF clinic running for cover

Anni and Ashot Manukyan

Now this is really complicated, so buckle up. It is an example of the emotional and legal turmoil that can happen when couples put themselves in the hands of IVF clinics.

Let’s start with the CHA Fertility Center. This is an international business with two clinics in Los Angeles and four in South Korea. Its services include egg freezing, LGBTQ fertility treatment, sex selection and surrogacy. California has become a magnet for international fertility treatment because its loose regulation permits sex selection and surrogacy. 

In 2011 Anni and Ashot Manukyan, a Los Angeles… MORE

Animal rights advances in India

Three of the great religions of India, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, all show a more overt respect for animal life than modern Western culture does. As early as 1500-600 BC the Isha-Upanishad stated (in the English rendering of recent judgements): “The universe along with its creatures belongs to the land. No creature is superior to any other. Human beings should not be above nature. Let no one species encroach over the rights and privileges of other species.”

In some circumstances, it can even become an inflammatory topic, especially with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power. Human Rights… MORE

UK Parliament grills producers of reality TV series on cosmetic surgery

Britain’s Channel 4 specialises in reality TV. A controversial new series, scheduled to go to air in January, will deal with cosmetic surgery. In The Surjury, contestants will have to secure three-quarters of the votes of a 12-person jury to get their surgery. If they win, they will be invited back a few months later to "show off the results".

The new show is a good fit with some of its other series, like The Sex Clinic, Sex Tape, Would You Marry a Stranger?, Flirty Dancing, Naked Attraction and The Undateables. A Channel 4 press release promises exciting viewing: “While… MORE

Vincent Lambert to die

Vincent Lambert, the 42-year-old nurse who became a quadriplegic in a “vegetative state” in 2008, will soon die. France’s highest court ruled that his food and water should be removed.

The Cour de Cassation overruled an appeals court which had directed doctors to keep Mr Lambert alive pending a review of his situation by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

Doctors plan to remove his hydration and nutrition, while keeping him as comfortable as possible while he dies of thirst and starvation.

His treating doctor, Vincent Sanchez, urged his family to make sure… MORE

Is ‘autonomy’ the central issue in the Vincent Lambert debate?

One of the central issues in the case of Vincent Lambert, the 42-year-old French nurse who became a quadriplegic living in a “vegetative state” in 2008, is whether or not he wants to die, or would want to die. As we report in this week’s newsletter, France’s highest court decreed last week that doctors may remove him from life support.

This provoked an interesting exchange on Oxford University’s Practical Ethics blog between Dominic Wilkinson, a neonatologist and bioethicist, and Charles Foster, a barrister and expert in medical law.

Wilkinson’s reaction to the long and complicated saga was this:


Progressing beyond sport’s non-inclusive gender binary

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

Weightlifter Gavin Hubbard set a New Zealand junior record in the 105 kg + division in 1998. Around 2010 he transitioned to a female and became known as Laurel Hubbard. In 2017, now aged 39, she won a gold medal in the heaviest 90 kg+ category at the Australian International & Australian Open in Melbourne. An elbow injury kept her out of the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Her competitors were not happy. “It’s a little bit unfair given that she began weightlifting as a man and has that experience in weightlifting as… MORE

Canadian fertility doctor deregistered over using own sperm

Dr Norman Barwin   

A leading Canadian fertility doctor has been formally deregistered for inseminating his patients with his own sperm or the sperm of unknown men. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario called the behaviour of Norman Barwin "beyond reprehensible".

The College found that he had acted in “a disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional” way and that he was “incompetent”.

Barwin is now 80 years old and has not practised medicine since 2014. He had specialised in infertility although he was not formally qualified in gynaecology. In Toronto he was regarded as the… MORE

50 years after Stonewall, we can’t ignore transgender health, says bioethicist

June was a month of “pride” for the LGBTQI+ community. But the co-editor of the blog of the American Journal of Bioethics, Keisha Rey, writes that despite progress in the 50 years since the Stonewall Inn riots in Greenwich Village, the health of transgender people is still precarious. She points out two battlefronts.

First, she says, new regulations from the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services declare that health care providers may refuse to care for transgender patients if doing so violates their religious beliefs. 

Second, the Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to allow federally… MORE

More evidence that people in ‘vegetative states’ may be aware

How do we know that patients with acute brain injuries who seem completely unresponsive really are? Some retain what doctors call “covert consciousness” – but which ones?

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that about 15% of such patients are responding to verbal commands in their brains in the days after their injury, even though there is no external sign of it.

Researchers recorded responses in specialized computer analysis of routine EEG recordings from the skull. These patients are “four times more likely to achieve partial independence over the next year with rehabilitation, compared… MORE

‘Tsunami’ of elderly and euthanasia are not a good mix, say Queensland doctors

With a “tsunami” of elderly patients with severe health problems approaching, Australians should not be legalising euthanasia, a senior doctor has told the Queensland Parliament. It could increase the pressure on vulnerable older people who feel they are a "burden" on others to do away with themselves, said Dr Chrys Pulle, on behalf of the Australian New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine Queensland.

“There [are] risks of voluntary and involuntary euthanasia on patients with cognitive impairment, dementia, delirium or reduced capacity; adverse effects on the funding for palliative care services and research; changing the concept of doctors being treaters and… MORE

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