Another American state legalises assisted suicide


The right-to-die is advancing in the US. New Mexico finally legalised assisted suicide this week, making it the 11th American jurisdiction. However, in France and Latvia it was rejected -- for a range of reasons. It's an interesting landscape. Read about it below. 

Michael Cook  
Editor 

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The co-parenting trend


The bizarre phenomenon of platonic co-parenting seems to be increasingly popular. In fact, a TV network in the UK has created a reality show based on the concept. Matchmakers bring a guy and a girl together who are interested in having a baby but not in having a spouse, or even in having sex. This is so gobsmackingly unconventional that I am left at a loss for words. So, for the moment, I'll just note that there's no accounting for tastes. I'm sure that many readers will agree with me. 

There will be no BioEdge newsletter next week because of the Easter holiday. 

Michael Cook
Editor

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Spain chooses euthanasia


Spain became the fifth country in the world to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide this week. It joins the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Canada. The vote in the lower house of the Spanish parliament was decisive, 202 in favour, 141 against and 2 abstentions.

"Today we are a more humane, just and freer country. The euthanasia law, widely demanded by society, finally becomes a reality," Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Twitter. What do you think? Is he right? 

Michael Cook  
Editor

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No more kids?


One of the premises of The Handmaid’s Tale, the popular dystopian novel and TV series, is that in an era of era of environmental pollution and radiation most women have become infertile. The ensuing social and political changes brings about a revolution and the installation of a bizarre theocratic government.

A recently published book, Count Down, suggests that the infertility bit, at least, may not be that far-fetched – although the author is more concerned about low sperm counts. Even more dramatically she claims that homo sapiens already fits the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s standard to be considered an endangered species. See today’s lead story.  

Michael Cook   
Editor 

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The travails of the rich


The Marquess and Marchioness of Bath are not short of a quid. Their Longleat estate in Wiltshire in the UK is 9,000 acres and includes a safari park. Yet they have a problem. Their second son was born with the help of a surrogate mother. This means, under English law dating back hundreds of years, that he cannot inherit his father’s title, if he were eligible. He is deemed “illegitimate”. In effect, there is a law for the rich and a law for the poor – and this time, the poor get a better deal. We explore this issue in our lead story.

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Home euthanasia


Where it is legalised, euthanasia is becoming more and more integrated into the practice of medicine. One of the more useful -- or ghoulish – developments, depending on your point of view, is euthanasia with organ donation. In other words, a patient agrees to supply organs and allows himself to be killed so that his kidney or liver can be harvested as soon as possible.

Two Dutch physicians have noticed, however, that patients who approved of organ donation in theory were still not donating. Why? Because they want to die at home. So they have developed a nifty protocol to allow patients to “fall asleep” at home, and die in the hospital. Is this the way of the future?

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One hundred surrogate babies?


Critiques of surrogacy generally centre on the welfare of the baby or the welfare of the gestating mother. Very seldom do they interrogate the motivations of the commissioning parents. But there are some very odd cases. A couple of years ago, wealthy Japanese businessman Mitsutoki Shigeta secured custody of 13 children he had fathered with Thai surrogate mothers. Apparently he just wanted a big family.

From Georgia comes our lead story about another wealthy man and his wife, Galip and Christina Ozturk, who also want a big family. The number 105 has been mentioned. They already have 10, plus children from previous relationships. How do we think through this?

Michael Cook   
Editor 

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Canada runs ahead


Canada's euthanasia legislation requires a parliamentary review of the law's provisions, as well as the state of palliative care in Canada, starting at the beginning of the fifth year after becoming law. This review would allow for further public engagement and parliamentary scrutiny of all aspects of MAiD.

2021 being the fifth year, doesn’t it make sense to save major amendments to this immensely consequential legislation until after the review? Apparently not. The nation’s Parliament is on the verge of approving an expansion of law which will effectively make it the most permissive in the world. Read about it below. 

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A new vision for bioethics


I openly confess that I am not au fait with Michel Foucault and Kimberlé Crenshaw, but the latest bioethics weather report suggests that they are going to be the big names of bioethics in the next few years, until something new comes along. The latest issue of the American Journal of Bioethics is devoted to race and marginalisation in bioethics and Ye Olde Verities of Autonomy, Non-Maleficence, Beneficence and Justice are nowhere to be seen, at least in the target article.

I stand corrected – it’s all about Justice, but social justice, not justice for the individual. The headwaters of bioethics, in this new vision, are to be found in Justice, not in Autonomy. It’s going to be interesting to watch the change downstream. As the authors of the target article predict, “we must embrace an ethic of discomfort”.

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Belgian euthanasia is broken


A movement for the legalisation of euthanasia seems to be accelerating at the same time that countries with experience of it may be having buyer’s regret. At least, that seems to be the case in Belgium. A recent article in an academic journal makes the case that euthanasia there is broken, morally, administratively and legally. If this is the case, it is a huge human rights issue.

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