Rescuing frozen embryos


April 16, 2010

Hi there,

Our lead story today is not all that momentous, to be honest. That adjective could possibly be used of the news further down the page that British scientists are on the road to creating babies whose DNA comes from two mothers and one father.

But it’s the sort of drama which appeals to me because it shows the human consequences of assisted reproduction. It is a case of embryo adoption, a practice promoted by some Christian groups to “rescue” left-over IVF embryos which would otherwise be used for research or, more probably, be discarded. But even Christians, it seems, find it hard to grapple with the complex human dilemmas thrown up when technology substitutes for nature.

If you come across similar stories, send them along. They give life to dry scientific developments and academic debates.

Cheers,

Michael Cook
Editor

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Film about Jack Kevorkian


April 10, 2010

Hi there,

It has been a slow week in the bioethics world, although there always seems to be something happening. If you notice news which might escape our notice, please send them along to us.

One development is more on the artistic side – a film with megastars Al Pacino and Susan Sarandon about Jack Kevorkian. I’ve managed to track down the YouTube trailer. Whatever your views might be, I think you’ll agree that a very sympathetic film about the world’s most prominent euthanasia activist means something. But what, exactly? That Americans are more sympathetic? That Hollywood is more sympathetic?

We learned from our recent survey that about 30% of our readers are on Facebook, so we’ve made it easier to post on Facebook from the newsletter. Try it out!

Cheers,
Michael Cook
Editor

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Happy Easter


April 2, 2010

Hi there,

This week’s and next week’s issues of BioEdge will be a bit shorter than usual because of the Easter holiday here, which extends from Good Friday through to Easter Monday.

We have made a few small improvements in the newsletter. We have added links to Facebook and Twitter so that you can post them with a single click. We’ve also added tags. Click these and you will be able to access all the recent articles on a particular theme.

Happy Easter!
Cheers,
Michael Cook
Editor

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Obama’s healthcare bill and abortion


March 27, 2010

Hi there,

Occasionally readers ask us why we don’t cover the abortion debate more extensively. The answer is that we deliberately steer away from it. First of all, it is extremely well covered on blogs and websites of all sizes and persuasions. There is almost nothing we can add. Second, it is such an inflammatory topic that it tends to squeeze out discussion of other bioethical issues.

However, personally speaking, I regard abortion as not just one more bioethical issue, but the main one. It is the single bioethics issue which affects nearly everyone personally, either because they have had one, facilitated one, or known someone who has had one. It shapes perceptions of human personhood and human dignity and influences our priorities for healthcare.

This was overwhelmingly evident in the acrimonious and prolonged debate over President Obama’s healthcare bill. Had he and his allies in Congress not insisted on including support for abortion, perhaps Americans would have had the mental space for an extensive debate on other fundamental human rights issues linked to the bill, like health care for illegal immigrants. Until we "solve" abortion, bioethics will continue to be a battleground rather than a building site.

Cheers,
Michael Cook
Editor

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Grammatical conumdrums


March 20, 2010

Hi there,

The articles in BioEdge are quite diverse. But this is the first time that we have dabbled in English grammar. A Sydney newspaper has reported the first officially androgynous individual, Norrie. Once legally male, he had a sex change operation but she apparently tired of that and is now living without a gender. This poses awkward problems for journalists. Is “it” the gender-appropriate pronoun? That sounds quite disrespectful. Norrie prefers the neologism “zie”.

Well, actually, it’s not actually a neologism, because this is one of a number of possible gender-neutral pronouns which have been floated over the years. None of them have been very successful. If you have any suggestions, please send them along.

Cheers,
Michael Cook
Editor

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results of survey


March 12, 2010

Hi there,

I promised that I would give you a bit of feedback on the survey of our readers. We were happy with the results: for 60% of our readers, BioEdge is their main source of bioethics news. Nearly three-quarters read it every week, mostly at work. And 92% feel that it presents the news in an unbiased fashion.

Who are our readers? About one-third are in the United States, about a third from Australian, New Zealand, Ireland, the UK and Canada, and the rest from all over the world. About 60% have a Master’s degree or PhD. About 45% say that their bioethical orientation is “Christian”, but 27% say that they are socially liberal or libertarian. It’s quite a good mix.

Here are a few comments from people who took the survey:

I like BioEdge because it gives me a ringside view of what is current in ethics. ~ India

This is one emailed newsletter you will find invaluable if you want to keep up with developments in genetics and reproductive technology. ~ UK

One of the best newsletters on ethics I've seen-relevant, interesting and topical subjects covered from a variety of angles. It's how I keep current on ethics issues. ~ Canada

One area in which we do have to improve is the presentation of our newsletters. The BioEdge website has improved a lot, but the newsletter itself has lagged behind. We are working on it.

Till next time,

Michael Cook

Editor

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survey again


March 6, 2010

Hi there,

We’ve tweaked BioEdge a bit more this week. In the right-hand column of the website, in MediaWatch, we are posting links to interesting background articles on various aspects of bioethics. And – of special interest to readers involved in organising conferences – we have created a section on the website called “upcoming events”. Send us the details of your conference and we shall advertise it for you.

Thanks to everyone who has filled in our survey of the site. If you weren’t aware of it, here’s your chance to give some feedback . It takes only 3 minutes. Just click here and you will be taken to a form which you can fill out on-line. If the link doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MMV72D6
Next week I'll pass on the results to you.

Some readers asked about images in the newsletter. We have deleted the images to make it shorter and easier to print. However, we are certainly keeping images on the website itself. Take a look. 

Cheers,
Michael Cook
Editor

to make a comment, click here

 

Fill in our reader survey


February 26, 2010

Hi there,

As I’ve mentioned before, we plan to improve the BioEdge website. But before we embark upon this, we’d like to hear from you. Are you happy with our service? Can we improve it?

To get a feeling for what you think, could you fill in our 3-minute survey? Just click here and you will be taken to a form which you can fill out on-line. If the link doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MMV72D6

We have moved our office to Sydney (that’s 900 kilometres north of Melbourne for those unfamiliar with Australian geography). Feel free to drop in at Suite 212, 75 Archer Street, Chatswood. Or send a postcard!

Cheers,
Michael Cook
Editor

to make a comment, click here

 

difficulties of reporting on euthanasia


February 20, 2010

Hi there,

This week's BioEdge seems largely devoted to the controversial issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide. We didn't plan it that way, but it cropped up several times.

This is an issue about which it is difficult to write without copping vehement criticism from one side or the other. Occasionally I have even received some hate mail in response to articles I have written – "I hope that you die in excruciating agony of cancer" and so on – but at BioEdge we do our best to present the facts fairly. Our apologies if some readers see it differently.

We have improved the layout of the front page of the website so that it is easier to make comments.

Cheers,
Michael Cook
Editor

to make a comment, click here

 

apologies for last week’s no-show


February 12, 2010

Hi there,

We are slowing implementing some improvements to BioEdge and the BioEdge newsletter. Please visit the site to see a fresh layout for the articles, which is clearer and more attractive – at least I hope so! Further changes are on the way, too.

We are also trying to increase our coverage. There is so much to report that we have winnow the most interesting and relevant material  from a large number of newspaper and journal articles. This involves judgements about what is most important. If you feel that we are missing something significant, please contact me with your ideas.

We also want to encourage comments. Few areas are more contentious than bioethics and it would be good to see an intelligent exchange of views on the site. Just click on the link below each article. 

Finally, I must apologise for missing a newsletter last week. Part of the reason was personal business – we’ll try to plan better from now on. But the site was also attacked by Chinese hackers who filled it with “malware”. It took several days to purge the innards of the site.

Till next time,

Michael Cook
Editor, BioEdge

to make a comment, click here

 

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