Only in Sweden? But why?

Child protection agencies all over the world should examine closely the epidemic of “Resignation Syndrome” among refugee children in Sweden. This bizarre phenomenon began in 2001 and continues to this day.

At least a thousand refugee children awaiting political asylum, and possibly many more, are affected. The children, aged 7 to 19, are unable to eat, speak and move. According to a recent study, the typical patient is “totally passive, immobile, lacks tonus, [is] withdrawn, mute, unable to eat and drink, incontinent and not reacting to physical stimuli or pain”.

Unless they are given intensive nursing care, they will die.

In Swedish Board of Health and Welfare’s version of ICD-10, the diagnostic manual used by United Nations agencies, the children have been given diagnostic code F32.3A. The Board acknowledges that specialists disagree about the reason for the disease.

After asylum is granted most of the children recover after a few weeks or months. But about one in seven do… click here to read whole article and make comments





Update from the UK: Noel Conway can challenge assisted dying ban

Noel Conway and supporters 

A possible tipping point in overturning the United Kingdom’s blanket ban on assisted suicide (under s2(1) Suicide Act 1961) has recently been highlighted. That possible tipping point comes in the form a challenge to the legality of the ban by Mr Noel Conway.

It was argued the importance of Mr Conway’s case lies in its long term chances of success. Despite Mr Conway’s case being in its initial stages, it has recently cleared an important legal hurdle in the English Court of Appeal; Mr Conway can challenge the assisted dying ban.

To recap, Mr Conway’s attempts to overturn the ban arise from tragic and distressing facts. He has Motor Neurone Disease, and he has largely lost his mobility. He uses a wheelchair, and needs assistance with many everyday activities.

In order to attempt to overturn law, Mr Conway seeks a declaration under s4(2) of the Human Rights Act… click here to read whole article and make comments





Caution needed with multipotent stem cells

Everyone seems to be excited about stem cells. Their excellent promise as a treatment for a range of diseases and injuries mean almost guaranteed coverage for research. While some types of stem cells are already being used in treatment – for treating diseases of the blood and leukaemia, for example, multiple sclerosis and problems in the bone, skin and eye – there’s still a lot of hype and exaggeration, with some even selling empty promises to seriously ill or injured patients.

There are many different types of stem cells in the body and they have varying abilities. When most people think of stem cells, it’s often of embryonic stem cells, which have been controversial for ethical reasons, or their closely related cousins, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, adult cells that have been reprogrammed to acquire stem cell-like properties. As the word “pluripotent” suggests, these stem cells have the capacity to transform into any cell… click here to read whole article and make comments





Dear Mr Trump, isn’t it about time to announce your bioethics commission?

Last week, seven Democratic members of the US House Representatives sent a letter to the White House asking President Trump to appoint a director to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), position that normally serves as the presidential science advisor. The impetus for writing the letter was a communication from the Deputy National Science Advisor that two hoax reports, that tried to undermine climate change, were circulating through the West Wing as “science.” The Congresspersons state “Where scientific policy is concerned, the White House should make use of the latest, most broadly-supported science…Relying on factual technical and scientific data has helped make America the greatest nation in the world.” Among the signers are a PhD in math and a PhD in physics. They hold that the US faces strong questions that revolve around science, both opportunities and threats, and the need for a scientist who can understand and explain the importance of… click here to read whole article and make comments





Belgian Catholic group explains switch on euthanasia

Last week marked an important step in the integration of euthanasia into the Belgian healthcare. A religious order in the Catholic Church, the Brothers of Charity, which is responsible for a large proportion of beds for psychiatric patients in Belgium announced that it will allow euthanasia to take place in its facilities.

This has been an extremely controversial move because the Catholic Church is unequivocally opposed to euthanasia. In 1995 John Paul II declared that “ euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person”. And Pope Francis described it earlier this year as a symptom of a selfish “throwaway culture”.

The local organisation has clearly split from Rome on this issue. The superior-general of the order, Brother René Stockman, has described the decision as “a real tragedy”.

Euthanasia for psychiatric patients has… click here to read whole article and make comments





Head of Belgian order explains shock move on euthanasia

Brother René Stockman   

Brother René Stockman is the superior general of the Brothers of Charity, a “congregation” of the Catholic Church which cares for the poor and the needy. Although residing in Rome in recent years, he has been one of the leading voices in Belgium opposing legalised euthanasia.

This week the Belgian region, where the congregation started in the 19th Century, announced the startling news that its hospitals would offer euthanasia to non-terminally-ill psychiatric patients who request it. This was big news in the Belgian media because the Brothers are major player in Belgium’s healthcare system, with 15 psychiatric hospitals and a number of other projects.

Brother Stockman was interviewed by email about this break with Catholic opposition to euthanasia.

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Is it certain that euthanasia will be offered in the hospitals of the Brothers of Charity? Or is there… click here to read whole article and make comments





Stronger, faster and more deadly: the ethics of developing supersoldiers

Image 20170224 21964 7mo177

The future soldier may be enhanced. Shutterstock  

Enhancing a soldier’s capacity to fight is nothing new. Arguably one of the first forms of enhancement was through improving diet. The phrase “an army marches on its stomach” goes back at least to Napoleon, and speaks to the belief that being well fed enhances the soldier’s chances of winning a battle. The Conversation

But recent research has gone well beyond diet to enhance the capabilities of soldiers, like purposefully altering the structure and function of a soldier’s digestive system to enable them to digest cellulose, meaning that they can use grass as a food.

Perhaps their cognitive capabilities could be substantially altered so they can make more… click here to read whole article and make comments





Why the media need to tread carefully when reporting research findings

The Australian of the Year was awarded recently to biomedical scientist and stem cell researcher, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim. To have a scientist recognised for such a prestigious award was extraordinary, especially during such a challenging time for research in Australia and globally.

But alas, there was barely time for the firework-smoke-haze to clear and Australia Day hangovers to subside before criticisms emerged and accusations were made that Professor Mackay-Sim had played no role in the scientific miracle that saw a paralysed man walk again.

While the types of cells used were similar (stem cells taken from the nose), the team responsible for the “miracle” say Mackay-Sim’s work did not inform their own. Mackay-Sim has reportedly vowed to make this clear over the course of his duties as Australian of the Year.

Is basic research front page news?    

While it’s… click here to read whole article and make comments





Has the UK reached a tipping point on assisted suicide?

Could the United Kingdom soon see its blanket ban on assisted suicide (under section 2(1) Suicide Act 1961) overturned?

Noel Conway is 67 years old. He suffers from motor neurone disease, and is estimated to have 12 months to live. Mr Conway has instructed lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to seek judicial review against the Ministry of Justice in the High Court, arguing that assisted suicide should be legally permissible, subject to satisfying a series of strict criteria.

Mr Conway’s case is noteworthy for the vivid portrayal of the progress of his condition, and the accompanying fears of becoming ‘entombed in his own body’. The legal importance of Mr Conway’s case lies in the fact that it likely has the greatest chances of long-term success in overturning the law before the UK courts. A range of factors argue for Mr Conway’s position, and support for… click here to read whole article and make comments





 
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