“To feed the ambition in your heart is like carrying a tiger under your arm.”


He Jiankui, the Chinese biophysics researcher who announced in 2018 that he had created the world’s first gene-edited babies, was sentenced to three years in prison for “illegal medical practice” a year ago.

In China’s opaque justice system exemplary punishments are a hazard for celebrities. As the Chinese proverb has it, “To feed the ambition in your heart is like carrying a tiger under your arm.” No doubt He thought that he would be lauded for achieving a world first. Instead he disappeared for many months until it was announced that he had ended up in the clink.

Now 29-year-old Zheng Shuang, a popular actress and brand ambassador, must be asking herself whether she will end up behind bars as well. She engaged two surrogate mothers in the US to bear her children and then abandoned them. When the news broke, she was instantly “cancelled” and seems to have become an unperson.

What’s puzzling about this is that far, far worse crimes against women happen in Tibet and Xinjiang every day and the Chinese media is silent, or worse, praises them.  

Michael Cook 
Editor

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2021 begins


Hi there,

We’re back. If 2020 was unexpectedly weird and stressful, 2021 promises to be expectedly weird and stressful. Already we have had a terrible riot in the Capitol Building in Washington DC and the Covid-19 toll has passed two million worldwide. One thing is sure: there will be lots of news about bioethics.

Michael Cook
Editor    

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Triage debates


Hi there, 

Happy Christmas! Happy New Year! This will be the last issue of BioEdge for 2020. We'll see you in January. 

Michael Cook    
Editor 

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Embryo donation record


I’ve been watching The Mandalorian lately. It’s not my favourite Western and I am not a Star Wars fanboy, but I admit that it is entertaining.

The best character is Baby Yoda, an infant of an alien species with big ears, which, I am told, has no name. The interesting factoid, for the purposes of BioEdge, is that Baby Yoda, who appears to be about six months old and acts that way, is actually 50.

All this happens, of course, in a galaxy far, far away. Here on Planet Earth the closest being to Baby Yoda is a smiling infant named Molly Gibson, who came into existence 27 years ago and is only two months old. Read about her below.

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Is the Belgian consensus on euthanasia breaking up?


In northern latitudes the sound of spring begins with the booming of snow-covered ice cracking in frozen rivers. Is something like that happening in Belgium? 

The European Court of Human Rights is currently considering the case of a Belgian woman who was euthanised in 2012. Her son, Tom Mortier, claims not only that he was left out of the process, but that there were legal irregularities in the way that the euthanasia was carried out. Now it appears that this case may not have been an outlier. The Belgian media is reporting that the police are investigating ten similar cases. Stay tuned. 

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Dutch doctors cleared to euthanise dementia patients


Dutch doctors will be able to sedate demented patients and then euthanise them, if they have made advance directives, according to new official guidelines. This follows a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year which quashed the conviction of a retired nursing home doctor for murder. A very interesting development. See the article below. 

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Sorry, late newsletter


Sorry about this. Your BioEdge newsletter is VERY late. But our content management system went pear-shaped last weekend and there were issues. But after a lot of sweat and bad language, it is back on the road, still needing a few repairs, but chugging along. Apologies. 

Michael Cook 
Editor 
  

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After the election


Hi there, 

The US election dominates the media at the moment. But the rest of the world hasn’t stopped. Our lead story today continues our coverage of the dramatic events in Poland, where protesters appear to have succeeded in blocking further restrictions on abortion. There’s lots more reading below.

However, I'm afraid that BioEdge is a bit late. Our apologies. We are having some technical issues with our software. I hope that they will be resolved soon.

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Kiwis choose euthanasia


New Zealand has just chosen euthanasia, by a whopping majority of about 65%. By my count, that makes the Land of the Long White Cloud the fifth country to legalise euthanasia, along with the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Canada. Several American states, two Australian states, and Switzerland also have passed laws which permit assisted suicide. Campaigners against the new law conducted a survey before the referendum and found that most people knew very little about the bill. It will be interesting to see if it takes off as quickly as it has in Canada. 

Michael Cook   
Editor 

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Poland and abortion


Hi there, 

Poland has become one of the few countries where abortion is being rolled back. Its high court has ruled that nearly all terminations are unconstitutional. This is being denounced an antediluvian outrage.

However, it will be interesting to read the judgement as the majority appears to have contended that abortion for foetal defects is basically eugenics. After all, it was only last year that US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said in a dissenting opinion that “abortion is an act rife with the potential for 'eugenic manipulation'”.

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