Antiquated Belmont principles must be scrapped, say bioethicists

Three generations of Havasupai members demonstrate against uranium mining

In order to cater for the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice should be scrapped, according to an editorial in the American Journal of Bioethics.

These principles were created for Western-oriented people without a strong sense of community. But AI/AN people are much more oriented toward communitarian decision-making and the autonomy-based Belmont principles are proving inadequate.

An example to which bioethical observers return again and again is the abuse of blood samples belonging to the Havasupai tribe,… MORE

Covid religious exemptions in the US are a tangled mess

Rev Jackson Lahmeyer at Sheridan Church

Many Americans who refuse to be vaccinated request an exemption because of their religious beliefs. A blog post in The Hastings Center Report throws cold water on their claims.

Bernard Prusak, a philosopher at Kings College, in Wilkes-Barr, Pennsylvania, points out that “This latest conscience war within our culture wars presents a minefield of legal and philosophical complexities for states and health care systems that want to take a hard line against religious exemptions, whether by excluding them altogether or by scrutinizing requests for them closely.”

Here is an only-in-America example… MORE

‘The Lancet’ enters the transgender word wars

The word “bizarre” is becoming increasingly shop-worn in articles about the transgender movement, but it’s difficult to find a more accurate and less offensive synonym. The latest incident concerns the hitherto inoffensive word “woman”.

This week the American Civil Liberties Union was pinged for censoring texts from the late Supreme Court Justice and feminist icon Ruth Ginsberg. In tweeting snippets from some of her writing, the ACLU substituted the word “women” with the gender-neutral word “people”. There was an outcry and the ACLU vowed never to do it again.

More creative substitutions under the banner of trans-inclusive language have… MORE

‘Science’ apologises for complicity in spreading the philosophy of eugenics

The logo of the Second International Eugenics Congress

This year marks the centenary of the Second International Eugenics Congress in 1921, an event supported by the best and brightest of American scientists of the early 20th Century. The opening address was given by Henry Osborne, the president of the American Museum of Natural History for 25 years. He declared that the terrible losses of the First World War made eugenics all the more necessary. “In certain parts of Europe the worst elements of society have gained ascendancy and threaten the destruction of the best.”

The Congress was… MORE

UK court upholds legality of aborting Down Syndrome babies

A woman with Down syndrome lost a court challenge against the UK government last week contesting the legality of abortion up until birth of a foetus with her condition.

Heidi Crowter, 26, and two others sued the Department of Health and Social, arguing that part of the Abortion Act is discriminatory and violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

Abortions in England, Wales and Scotland are permitted up till 24 weeks of pregnancy. But if there is “a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”,… MORE

An even darker side to fertility fraud in the 60s and 70s

Dispatches from the Reproductive Revolution. Fertility fraud is becoming a ho-hum story, but just for the record, a woman in Louisville, Kentucky, discovered recently that her mother’s gynaecologist, Dr Marvin Yussman. used his own sperm when she requested artificial insemination back in 1975. Using online genealogy sites, Erin Crowder has discovered that she has at least seven half-siblings. Her mother, Susan Crowder, 73, called Yussman’s conduct “unconscionable and depraved”.

Dr Yussman, now retired, has admitted to using his own sperm to inseminate patients "about a half a dozen times."

Dr Jody Madeira, an expert in fertility fraud at Indiana… MORE

Mexico’s Supreme Court dismantles conscientious objection

Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice building

The Supreme Court of Mexico is dismantling the right of doctors to conscientious objection, after its recent decision that the states must decriminalise abortion.

In its decision on September 20, eight members of the 11-member court declared that the exercise of women’s reproductive rights must not be thwarted by doctors who appeal to their consciences. Somewhat confusingly, it also asserted that conscientious objection was a constitutional right.

The president of the Supreme Court, Arturo Saldivar, explained in El Pais that “We cannot issue a blank cheque that denies… MORE

Embryos in Amsterdam clinic possibly infected by bacteria

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

IVF treatment has unsuspected dangers. A clinic in Amsterdam placed embryos which may have been infected with a bacterium which can cause meningitis in the wombs of 16 women.

The bacterium, Sphingomonas koreensis, was discovered in checks of the Petri dishes where the embryos are placed at the VU University teaching hospital. All IVF treatment has been halted until the clinic identifies the source of the infection.

Normally the bacterium is not dangerous, even to embryos, according to a spokesman for the clinic. “We have reported this more as a precaution… MORE

Illegal euthanasia of infants continues in Belgium

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

It is well-known that eligibility for euthanasia in Belgium is elastic. However, there are limits. The law only permits the euthanasia of minors who are capable of discernment and who are conscious.

But, according to a recent brief report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood Fetal and Neonatal edition, Flemish doctors euthanise 10% of newborns for whom there is "no hope of a bearable future".

This statistic is taken from a study based on 24 babies who died in Flanders between September 2016 and December 2017. The numbers are… MORE

Another Australian state legalizes ‘assisted dying’

Banana-benders back 'assisted dying' 

Another Australian state, Queensland, legalised assisted dying this week. The bill passed in the unicameral parliament by an impressive margin -- 61 to 30 -- on Thursday afternoon.

Although 55 separate amendments were proposed, all of them were rejected and the legislation passed as drafted by the state’s independent law reform commission. The law will be operation from January 2023.

The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, was a strong supporter of the bill. “Dignity is a word that I hold dear,” she said. “There is dignity in work. There is dignity in the family and… MORE

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