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… MORE





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… MORE





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… MORE





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… MORE




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