Have the Swiss smuggled religion into their constitution?

Switzerland has some of the strictest laws in the world for care of animals. Goldfish, for instance, being social animals, must have companions in their bowls. This concern for animals and even plants stems from a 1992 referendum to amend the Swiss constitution to protect “human dignity” (Article 119) and the dignity of creatures (Article 120).

These amendments have been unpopular in some circles as they hamper the development of human reproductive technology and biotechnology.

An American lawyer, James Toomey, has published “the first English-language study of the Swiss constitutional concept of dignity as a coherent, unified concept that… MORE

China breaks up organ-donor racket

Four high-ranking doctors have been jailed in China after they were found guilty of illegally harvesting human organs. A court in the eastern city of Bengpu passed a sentence of between 10 and 28 months in jail on the charge of “insulting a body”.

Organ donation is a sensitive topic in China. Five years ago the government officially ended its policy of retrieving organs from executed prisoners and established a voluntary donation system. However, there are constant allegations that prisoners, even political prisoners, are used as sources for organ transplants. Now it appears that a black market in organs… MORE

Unknown hackers break into database of fertility clinics

Data security at U.S. Fertility, the largest network of fertility clinics in the United States, with 55 clinics in 10 states, was attacked by cybercriminals in August and September. First, some files containing names, addresses, dates of birth and, in some cases, a Social Security number were copied. Then, the hacker engaged in a ransomware attack.

This is an attack in which hackers lock users out and then demand payment to allow restoration of the system. If the ransom is not paid, hackers often threaten to publish the stolen data.

U.S. Fertility said the attack may have included… MORE

Can we synthesise Christianity moral theology with secular bioethics?

A thought-provoking target article in the latest edition of The American Journal of Bioethics considers how Christian theological concepts might enrich secular bioethical discourse. Authors Michael McCarthy (Loyola University), Mary Homan (Medical College of Wisconsin) and Michael Rozier (Saint Louis University) argue that the Christian concepts of human dignity, sin, and the common good can bring analytical depth and clarity to discussions in a range of bioethical subfields, including debates clinical ethics, research ethics and public health ethics.

In essence, they claim that: “a Christian approach to bioethics can augment bioethical discourse by providing a thick theological description of… MORE

Dutch doctors cleared to euthanise dementia patients who have advance directives

Dutch doctors will be able to sedate demented patients and then euthanise them, if they have made advance directives, according to new official guidelines. This follows a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year which quashed the conviction of a retired nursing home doctor for murder.

The doctor, Marinou Arends, euthanised a 74-year-old woman, even though she was resisting, on the basis of advance care directives which she had written before she entered the nursing home. Although the doctor had secretly sedated her, the woman still had to be held down by her son-in-law so that she could be given… MORE

Euthanasia as an option for Canadian nursing home patients who are sick of lockdowns

A final family get-together with Nancy Russell / ctvnews.ca  

This is just one story amongst many but it raises serious questions. A 90-year-old woman, Nancy Russell, chose euthanasia last month in Toronto. She was not suffering unbearable pain. She was just sick and tired of lockdown isolation in her nursing home.

According to a report in CTVNews, “Residents eat meals in their rooms, have activities and social gatherings cancelled, family visits curtailed or eliminated. Sometimes they are in isolation in their small rooms for days. These measures, aimed at saving lives, can sometimes be detrimental enough to… MORE

Bioethicist speaks about his own clash with Covid restrictions

Numerous articles have been published in bioethics journals about aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic. But bioethicist Joseph Meaney, the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, speaks from personal experience. He was hospitalised for four days with a near-fatal heart problem and had to cope with Covid-19 restrictions on visiting. He reflected on his experience with a journalist at Crux.

Hospitals should recognise a right not to die alone:

Certain hospitals and health care facilities, particularly nursing homes for the elderly, put into place draconian visitation restrictions as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. The result of these… MORE

Leading British surgeon allegedly hoarded body parts

(Sorry, we missed this significant story which broke in September and October.) A pioneering orthopaedic surgeon has been officially censured for illegally keeping the bones of 5,224 of his patients without their consent for his private research. On October 22 conditions were placed on the medical licence of 67-year-old Derek McMinn.

Patients travelled from all over the world to have McMinn operate on their hips and knees at the BMI Edgbaston Hospital in Birmingham. He developed the first technique for successful metal-on-metal hip resurfacing and is an acknowledged authority in the field. His patients included politicians, sports stars and celebrities.


Sex robots can offer the intimacy that the elderly disabled crave, says bioethicist

Sex robots are needed for older people, especially older people with disabilities, according to an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Nancy S. Jecker, a bioethicist at the University of Washington, in Seattle, contends that “the non-voluntary absence of sex from someone’s life is not just a bad thing but also a threat to a person’s identity and dignity” and sex robots can fill this gap in the lives of the elderly. Society should make “reasonable efforts” to help them as a way of promoting human dignity.

Jecker, who has written extensively about ethical issues associated with… MORE

Serbian govt and media attack bioethicist

Prof. Vojin Rakić 

A leading Serbian bioethicist is being attacked by the government and media in his country, prompting an open letter supporting him signed by some of the most prominent bioethicists in the US, the UK and across Europe.

Professor Vojin Rakić is the founder and head of the Center for the Study of Bioethics  in Belgrade. His research focus is moral bioenhancement and he has debated the issue in the Journal of Medical Ethics with Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson. The letter describes him as “an internationally well-known and highly respected scholar, who… MORE

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