Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to blow up the universe

Euthanasia is usually viewed as a personal experience. But there are movements and philosophers who believe that it would be a good idea if the whole human race were to perish. South African philosopher David Benatar, for instance, argues that bringing people into existence always does them harm. And the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement advocates the gradual disappearance of mankind.

However, as Thomas Moynihan, of the University of Oxford, writes in The Conversation, these guys are amateurs compared to a nearly forgotten German philosopher, Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906).

A disciple of Schopenhauer, von Hartmann believed that all life… MORE

Biden announces expert team for planning Covid-19 fight

In one of his first initiatives after the election – which continues to be disputed by the incumbent -- US President-elect Joe Biden set up a Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board.

There is little doubt that the US is facing a crisis. New cases are rising in at least 40 states, with more than 9.3 million total infections and more than 236,000 deaths. According to exit polls, 73% of Biden voters felt that this pandemic was the most serious issue facing the country.

Mr Biden has appointed David Kessler, Vivek Murthy, and Marcella Nunez-Smith as his lead advisers. His policy… MORE

Eugenics policies are part of China’s five-year plan, says expert

An expert on women’s issues has rung alarm bells about the potential for eugenics in China’s latest “five-year plan”. Columbia professor Leta Hong Fincher told a panel of China watchers at a virtual conference by the Center for International and Strategic Studies last week.

“What caught my eye was that they actually use specific language saying that China needs to ‘upgrade population quality,’” she said. “They need to ‘optimize their birth policy.’ They even use a term … which is effectively emphasizing the role of eugenics in population planning in China.”

She told the conference that this also… MORE

Does the autonomy principle work for substance abusers? 

Autonomy is the fundamental principle of contemporary bioethics – or most of it. In moral dilemmas, the path leading to greater autonomy is normally the right one. But are there exceptions?

In a fascinating article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Laura Williamson, of Augusta University, in Georgia, argues that substance abuse is a disorder for which therapies based on autonomy are of little use. Far more important are relationships and empathy.

a simple focus on self-determination, while intended to empower, does not provide sufficient support to help us move beyond seeing people as solely responsible for what… MORE

Disabled groups attack liberalizing euthanasia in Canada

Lobby groups for Canadians with disabilities are working hard to defeat a bill broadening the scope of euthanasia legislation.

Under the current legislation, although some people with chronic illness want “medical aid in dying” (MAiD), they may not be eligible because their death is not “reasonably foreseeable”, in the words of the legislation.

A new proposal, Bill C-7, retains all of the existing eligibility criteria, but removes the requirement for "reasonable foreseeability of natural death". It would also expressly exclude persons suffering solely from mental illness.

But disability advocates believe that Bill C-7 sends a message that their… MORE

Mother blocks – temporarily – transgender treatment in BC

A Supreme Court judge in British Columbia stopped doctors from performing a “gender-affirming” double mastectomy on a 17-year-old Vancouver girl. The girl’s mother had appealed to the court for an injunction, which Justice Shelley C. Fitzpatrick granted for three weeks.

The teenager began hormone treatment in July as part of her transition and was scheduled to have her breasts removed.

Her mother, A.M., believes that her daughter has been "caught up in a fad". She criticised a BC school program, SOGI 123, for "pushing depressed and anxiety-ridden girls to gender-change clinics when what they need is psychiatric care."

A.M. also… MORE

Military doctors who treated Trump are caught in a web of dilemmas

President Donald Trump’s brush with Covid-19 raised a number of questions related to medical ethics. He received a cocktail of drugs, including experimental treatments which are not normally available to the public. He had to receive emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. His doctor, Navy Commander Sean Conley, told the public only what the President wanted him to say.

Without mentioning Mr Trump’s name, Elliott J. Crigger, an ethicist at the American Medical Association, has published a scathing commentary on the ethics of the President’s highly public treatment in the Hastings Center Bioethics Forum.

First, he… MORE

Tasmanian politicians defer vote on euthanasia

A euthanasia bill passed in the upper house of the Australian state of Tasmania this week. Both sides of the contentious issue believe that it could also pass in the lower house, but Premier Peter Gutwein stepped in and requested a report from a committee of experts before a final vote.

According to The Australian, it now seems that the fate of the bill will not be decided before February or March next year.

“Should this legislation become law, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that it is the best law possible and affords real protections… MORE

Polish government backs down over abortion

In the face of massive protests, the government of Poland has delayed indefinitely the implementation of a law banning abortions of children with birth defects. The country’s supreme court ruled last month that this was unconstitutional, sparking huge demonstrations every day across the country.

The government, led by the conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), is faced with a dilemma. A significant number of voters are passionate supporters of liberalising its abortion laws. The government supports the court, but it is under enormous pressure domestically and internationally to be more “progressive”. The New York Times described the protests as… MORE

Election takeaways

The result of America’s 2020 presidential election is still unknown. It seems that Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump but weeks of recounts and lawsuits could lie ahead. However, a few bioethical developments have emerged from the fog of Tumultuous Tuesday.

It appears that the number of pro-life women in the House of Representatives will double. All 11 pro-life women incumbents were re-elected, and at least 13 new pro-life women will join them. At least seven of them flipped Democrat-held seats. Other pro-life gains are possible, because winners have not been declared in some seats. At least… MORE

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