Vatican strips Belgian group of ‘Catholic’ label over euthanasia

The Vatican has put its foot down on a Belgian Catholic group over euthanasia and has declared that it can no longer be considered “Catholic”.

The Brothers of Charity, a religious congregation founded in the 19th century, runs 15 highly-respected psychiatric hospitals. In 2017, the board of the organization’s hospitals, which was composed on 12 lay people, including former Christian Democrat Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, along with three brothers of the congregation, decided to permit doctors to practice euthanasia in the hospitals.

The Catholic Church strictly forbids euthanasia. However, the board refused to buckle under pressure from… MORE

Surrogacy nightmare in Ukraine 

Like rivets popping on the hull of the sinking Titanic, the stresses of the pandemic are revealing unexpected weaknesses in our societies. Suddenly we’ve realised that it wasn’t a great idea to source protective masks from China, that warehousing the elderly is dangerous, that we need check-out chicks more than we need managers, and so on.

But there is one disaster which is flying under the radar — the international surrogacy industry.

The hot spot of international surrogacy is Ukraine. Commercial surrogacy is legal there; the medical facilities are good; the cost is relatively low; and poor young women… MORE

‘Wrongful life’ tested in German courts

The Bundesgerichtshof (German Federal Court of Justice) 

The legal concept of “wrongful life” is extremely controversial and has been rejected by a number of courts around the world. It is usually invoked when a baby is born with severe birth defects. The parents sue the relevant doctor for not having informed them about their child’s disability and thus giving them a chance to abort the child.

However, a case in the German courts highlighted in the Journal of Medical Ethics used the idea at the end of life.

In April 2019, the German Federal Court handed down… MORE

Coronavirus quotes. May 16

Dr Susan L. Murray. NEJM, on working in the middle of an Ebola epidemic in 2014

Most health care workers I know are brave people who perform demanding jobs in difficult circumstances. But one of the terrifying things about an outbreak of transmissible disease is that it’s not just our own life and health that we are being asked to put at risk in caring for patients.

We risk being the vector that brings the illness home to the people we love — to our children and partners and parents — and that can be truly terrifying. It is… MORE

Should governments issue coronavirus ‘passports’?

Ante-bellum New Orleans had to deal with a disease far more dangerous than Covid-19 – yellow fever. There was no cure, no inoculation and no vaccination against the mosquito-borne disease and it has an overall mortality rate of 3 to 7%. Survivors, however, were immune to further infections.

This created incentives to “acclimation” – rolling the dice, taking a deep breath and seeking to become infected. With proof of acclimation, it was impossible for a white person to get a job or credit from a bank. Fathers would not allow their daughter to marry a non-acclimated person. Acclimated slaves… MORE

Twitter storm over Anderson Cooper’s surrogate baby

This is not exactly an only-in-America story. It’s more an “only amongst the rich, famous and well-coiffured” story. The face of Anderson Cooper, the 52-year-old CNN anchor and correspondent for 60 Minutes, is known around the world. He is also “the most prominent openly gay journalist on American television,” according to the New York Times.

With the help of a surrogate mother, last week he acquired a son, Wyatt. "On Monday, I became a father," he announced on Instagram. "I've never actually said that before, out loud, and it still kind of astonishes me. I am a dad. I… MORE

Compulsion is necessary to fight Covid-19: Oxford bioethicist

Lockdown is not only a policy for containing the spread of coronavirus; it is also an experiment in compulsory health measures. So far it seems successful and accepted – great sacrifices notwithstanding – in countries with very different cultural and political backgrounds.

Governments are on a roll. So why not make contact app tracing and vaccination compulsory as well? This is the question posed by Oxford University bioethicist Alberto Giubilini, in the Practical Ethics blog.

If we accept compulsory measures when the cost is very large (lockdown), we should accept compulsory measures when the cost is vastly smaller… MORE

BMA’s Covid-19 guidelines attacked  

BMA House in London at twilight 

Godwin’s law, a well-known internet maxim, hold that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1". Similarly, in discussion of end-of-life issues the probability of a citation of the 1884 case in English law of Regina v Dudley and Stephens approaches 1. In this important precedent, two seamen were convicted of murder for having killed and eaten a companion when they were castaways at sea.

A moment’s consideration will reveal the relevance of this distant case to the Covid-19 pandemic. May doctors… MORE

Should faith-based Canadian nursing homes allow euthanasia in the pandemic?

Social distancing regulations in Canada are leading to tensions over the availability of euthanasia for nursing home patients. The Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers (CAMAP) has complained that it is impossible for some people to access euthanasia during the coronavirus pandemic because they are stuck in faith-based nursing homes.

CAMAP demands that these institutions be required to allow euthanasia on their premises when patients cannot be transferred to a more compliant venue:

A significant number of [long-term care] facilities and many acute care hospitals are faith-based and prohibit MAiD. Patients resident in these facilities have previously… MORE

My egg donor went to Harvard. And yours?

A feature in the Harvard Crimson, the university’s undergraduate newspaper, gives a fascinating anecdotal picture of the sperm and egg donation industry on the fringes of Ivy League campuses.

Parents who want smart kids. It opens with an interview with a 41-year-old Vancouver woman, Shannon Copeland, who was unable to have a child in her second marriage. She is working on a doctorate in nursing and wanted her offspring to be academically gifted. She has photographed her one-year-old lying on piles of academic papers. Why are genes for genius so important? “People have said to me, ‘Well, who cares… MORE

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