Is a Texas nursing home doctor abusing human rights?

The medical director of a nursing home in Texas has come under fire for giving the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to coronavirus-positive elderly patients and tracking the outcomes in an "observational study."

The medication has been touted by President Trump and by numerous internet sites, but medical scientists are very sceptical. Although there are several clinical trials being conducted in a desperate effort to identify drugs which will treat the disease, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19.

However, Dr Robin Armstrong, of The Resort, a nursing home in Texas City, near Galveston, gave the drug to… MORE

Should governments force citizens to use tracking apps?

These are weird times, so you’re no longer surprised to hear politicians say things which used to sound weird. For instance, Australia’s Prime Minister recently promoted a smartphone app: "If you download this app, you'll be helping to save someone's life." Why is the country’s leader advertising an app?

All over the developed world, governments are suggesting, or forcing, downloads of tracking apps so that they can track the movements of people who have tested positive to coronavirus. Typically these apps track a smartphone user’s movements and all of his contacts by pinging the phones of people nearby. The information… MORE

Should a disabled woman be forced to use contraception?

A British woman with learning disabilities should be fitted with an IUD against her will, a judge has ruled in the UK Court of Protection.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust asked the court to compel the woman to have the contraceptive device inserted because the woman has already had four children and is pregnant with a fifth.

More pregnancies could damage her health, doctors believe. All of her pregnancies have been risky because of a congenital malformation of her uterus. One of her children died shortly after birth and the other three have been removed from her care.


Dutch court rules patients with advanced dementia can be euthanised

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has ruled that patients with advanced dementia can be euthanised, in a decision that clarifies one of the most controversial aspects of the country’s euthanasia law. 

On Tuesday, the Hague-based court ruled that a doctor who had euthanised a elderly patient with severe dementia in 2015 was acting lawfully, and that an early written request for euthanasia is sufficient for patients who have suffered severe cognitive decline. 

“A physician may carry out a written request beforehand for euthanasia in people with advanced dementia”, the Court found. 


Coronavirus quotes: April 25

Neglect of nursing homes is a “humanitarian crisis”. Canadian philosopher Monique Lanoix

We think of humanitarian crises as taking place in countries that are poor or subject to war. However, it is happening and has been happening in Québec and across our country for decades now. I insist on calling it a humanitarian crisis even if it takes place in distinct centers and homes: it involves a large number of people who have been the subject of pervasive social neglect, workers and residents at the margins of society. This crisis calls for a reckoning of the way in which… MORE

The scandal of nursing home deaths in the pandemic

Governments the world over have turned their countries upside down with social distancing, forced unemployment and massive welfare spending, -- all to save the most vulnerable and oldest people in the population pyramid.

Reports on deaths have come to the same conclusion: “deaths have been concentrated at older ages”. In a sense, it is an impressive testimonial to 21st Century commitment to human dignity that government have moved so quickly and sacrificed so much to save the elderly. It is believed that the death rate is almost 10 times higher than the average for those over 80.


UN official criticizes ‘liberal eugenics’

Catalina Devandas Aguilar

A United Nations official has slammed “liberal eugenics”. In her report to the Human Rights Council on people with disabilities, special rapporteur Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, denounces “ableism” in healthcare and assisted dying.

Ms Devandas is a Costa Rican lawyer, married with three children, who has spinal bifida. Her annual report has been overlooked because of the sudden emergence of the coronavirus pandemic. Surprisingly for a UN document, it takes a dim view of progressive bioethics. Here are some of her observations.

What is disability? “Disability is part of the continuum of the human… MORE

Foetal tissue 1: US politicians call for change in policy

Lost in the blizzard of news about coronavirus statistics, lockdowns, social distancing and possible miracle drugs is an American controversy about foetal tissue research. The Trump Administration has consistently blocked this.  A  HHS statement in 2019 set out the following principle: “Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration”. 

However, this is keeping a leading researcher, Kim Hasenkrug, from using “humanised” mice to test potential therapies. These mice have human-like lungs with tissue derived from aborted human foetuses.

Democrats in the House of Representatives have… MORE

Foetal tissue 2: is it ethical to use a vaccine derived from aborted fetuses?

Helen Watt, of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, at Oxford University, says that she is often asked whether it is ethical to use vaccines derived from an aborted foetus. This is not a point of view to be ridiculed or dismissed, she says. To make it more plausible, she makes the following analogy in a BMJ blog post:

“It is important for those who may be tempted to dismiss these concerns not only to consider the possible health effects of a boycott on the person and on others but to try to appreciate the reasons behind the person’s stance.  It… MORE

Extreme social distancing: ‘shoot any coronavirus troublemakers’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to the nation about coronavirus on April 16 /  AP

Authoritarian regimes are taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to reinforce their authority, claims bioethicist Charles E. Binkley in a post on the blog of the American Journal of Bioethics.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has told police and military that during the pandemic, “if there is trouble, … shoot them dead." About half of the 110 million people in the Philippines are currently under quarantine, many of them in great poverty. "Instead of causing trouble, I'll send you to… MORE

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