Father walks free after killing disabled daughter </b>

A New Zealand jury has allowed a man to walk free even though he had admitted that he smothered his severely brain-damaged five- month-old daughter. The child had an incurable condition called lissencephaly and her brain was no larger than that of a 13-week-old foetus. In the evening of the day when doctors finally diagnosed her condition, the father "snapped" and killed the child.

The case has aroused immense controversy in New Zealand. The Commissioner for Children's Office commented that the verdict gave a clear statement children with disabilities are not OK and don't have the right to life." Scott… click here to read whole article and make comments

First euthanasia campaign in Indonesia </b>

The husband of a woman brain-damaged in childbirth has launched Indonesia's first euthanasia campaign. Hasan Kusama, of Bogor, south of Jakarta, says that his wife Agian Nauli Siregar received inappropriate medication during a caesarean section for her third child and is now in a "vegetative state". Kusama is now suing to have her unplugged from her life support system. He argues that the state has denied her right to life by refusing to exempt him from soaring medical bills.

Kusama is unlikely to win much support in Muslim Indonesia. "From an Islamic point of view, euthanasia is basically a murder,"… click here to read whole article and make comments

Scuppered again: UN ban on cloning </b>

A vote on cloning in the United Nations has again been postponed after the two sides failed to reach an agreement. They will meet again in February. Although there is universal support for a ban on human reproductive cloning, a number of countries support a proposal for a treaty drafted by Belgium which would allow therapeutic cloning".

The Australian government has quietly retreated from a position of moderate support for therapeutic cloning and now backs a proposal for a ban on therapeutic cloning sponsored by Costa Rica and vigorously supported by the United States. The move comes as the newly… click here to read whole article and make comments

UK examines payment for egg and sperm donors </b>

Britain's fertility watchdog has launched a public consultation on sperm and egg donation. The IVF industry in the UK is facing a crisis because donor anonymity will be lifted in April. Already 90% of clinics are reporting a shortage of donor eggs and 50% a shortage of donor sperm. One way forward is to pay donors for their efforts. Currently egg donors are paid 15 pounds plus "reasonable expenses", but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority wants them to be paid up to 1,000 pounds for their expenses. Expenses for sperm donors could amount to 50 pounds, but men can… click here to read whole article and make comments

IN BRIEF: embryos, euthanasia, STDs </b>

Embryo licence: A diabetes research group at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney will be the first public institution in Australia to extract stem cells from human embryos. It has a licence to produce six stem cells lines and to use up to 100 embryos. click here to read whole article and make comments

Elation over California stem cell funding </b>

Robert Klein, right, chairman of the YES on Proposition 71, the stem cell research initiative, celebrates with supporters at their election night reception in Los Angles on Nov. 2, 2004. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) With the political battle over, politicians, scientists and activists are pondering the significance of California's Proposition 71, which guarantees US$3 billion in funding for embryonic stem cell research. Reflecting the excitement of the scientific community, the Los Angeles Times advised California to "waste no time realising the worst fears of the editors at London's Financial Times, who last week flagged… click here to read whole article and make comments

Australia reopens abortion debate </b>

Tony Abbott Several leading members of the recently re-elected coalition government have poured petrol on the smouldering Australian abortion debate by calling for review of the situation. Health Minister Tony Abbott has insisted a number of times that there are too many abortions. "Just about everyone from the most strident pro-choice people right to the other end of the spectrum says that it would be good if we could bring the number of abortions down," he told the Australian newspaper. " Abbott has the strong support of Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson and several… click here to read whole article and make comments

Cosmetic neurology” unstoppable, says US neurologist </b>

The neurologist of the future will become a "quality of life" consultant as well as a doctor, says a University of Pennsylvania doctor in the leading journal Neurology. Gazing into a crystal ball, Dr Anjan Chatterjee says that because medical technology will make it possible for people to have "better brains" and better bodies, neurology is bound to move from therapy to enhancement. People will demand drugs to make them more alert, to give them better powers of memorisation, to help them to work longer and harder or to dampen their disturbing memories.… click here to read whole article and make comments

New heart drug uses racial profiling </b>

Researchers have discovered that a heart drug is significantly more effective amongst African-Americans than amongst whites. The medication BiDil could become the first "ethnic medicine" to be licensed by the Food and Drug Administration. "There are populations of individuals who have different health vulnerabilities as well as different responses to medication," says Dr Anne Taylor, of the University of Minnesota. "By exploring those differences, we understand disease mechanisms better, but we can also target therapy."

The announcement has sparked a debate over racial profiling of drugs. Some researchers say that race is a biologically meaningless concept; others contend that genetic… click here to read whole article and make comments

China bans brain surgery for drug addiction </b>

The Chinese government has banned the use of brain surgery to rehabilitate drug addicts, a practice which has become popular despite the lack of research to back it up. The Ministry of Health appears to be determined to rein in doctors who want to commercialise the operation. According to a commentary in China Daily, "people willing to undergo surgery cannot possibly have a complete idea about the potential risks on which even experts have not reached a consensus." click here to read whole article and make comments

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