UK bioethics thinktank endorses germline modification

The UK’s leading bioethics institute has given a green light to intergenerational modification of the human genome. In a major study of the ethical and practical issues (PDF) involved in genome editing and human reproduction, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has concluded that it is “morally permissible”, provided, of course, that it is safe.

“It is our view that genome editing is not morally unacceptable in itself,” said Professor Karen Yeung, the chair of the working group which produced the report. “There is no reason to rule it out in principle.”

Professor Jackie Leach Scully, of Newcastle… MORE

Enhancement, disease, and compulsory gene editing

Media outlets were in a frenzy this week after the Nuffield Council on Bioethics released a new report stating that gene editing of embryos for desirable traits was “not in itself unacceptable”.

Despite the interest that the report has generated, the idea of enhancement is not a novel one. Several bioethicists have argued that we have a moral imperative to select for the best traits when implanting embryos produced in vitro. The foremost proponent of this view, Oxford University bioethicist Julian Savulescu, has argued that the biomedical principle of beneficence should apply to our reproductive… MORE

Canadian man who killed disabled daughter seeks pardon

A Canadian man who was convicted of second-degree murder after killing his disabled daughter has asked Canadian Prime-Minister Justin Trudeau for a pardon or a retrial.

Sixty-five-year-old Robert Latimer received a life-sentence (including ten years without parole) after killing his daughter Tracy Latimer in 1993; Tracy suffered from severe cerebral palsy, and was allegedly in “chronic pain”. In October 1993, Latimer propped the girl’s head up against the front seat of his truck and connected a hose from the truck’s exhaust pipe to the cab.

Latimer told the courts that he was… MORE

Israel legalises surrogacy for single mothers, not gay couples

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under fire for failing to support an amendment to a bill that would have allowed access to surrogacy for gay men.

On Wednesday the Knesset voted 59 to 52 in favour of the law to extend access to surrogacy to single women, but stopped short of including single men in the reforms.

An amendment to the bill was proposed by Likud party member Amir Ohana, who is himself gay, that would have allowed LGBT couples to access surrogacy. But Mr Netanyahu failed to support the… MORE

Killer Japanese nurse says end of life care was “tough”

A Japanese nurse has confessed to poisoning at least 20 patients, telling police that it was “tough to carry out end of life care work”. Thirty-one-year-old Ayumi Kuboki confessed that she poisoned the seriously ill patients over a period of two months in 2016 while working at Oguchi Hospital in Yokohama’s Kanagawa Ward; She allegedly accelerated their deaths to avoid the task of explaining the circumstances of the patients’ deaths to relatives falling on her, which she said to police was “troublesome”.

It appears that Ms Kuboki poisoned the patients by contaminating their intravenous injections with… MORE

Celebrity Brazilian plastic surgeon arrested after deadly botched operation

A celebrity Brazilian plastic surgeon -- known by fans as Dr Bumbum -- has been arrested by authorities following a botched buttock-enhancing operation that left a patient dead.

Forty-five-year-old Denis Furtado was arrested by police on in Rio De Janeiro on Thursday and charged with homicide and criminal association. Furtado had performed a buttock-enhancement operation on 46-year-old bank manager Lilian Quezia Calixto in his luxury apartment on Saturday, shortly after which Ms Calixto began to feel extremely sick. Ms Calixto was admitted to a local hospital with a racing heartbeat and hypertension, and she suffered… MORE

Should social support be an eligibility criterion for organ transplantation?

While medical factors are part of the eligibility assessment for organ transplantation candidates in the United States, “social” considerations are also taken into account when evaluating patients.

Current guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Policy (CMS) and professional societies state that doctors should consider the “social support” of patients when assessing their eligibility for organ transplantation. The definition of “social support” is notoriously vague, but it is typically taken to refer to the presence of family and friends who can assist a patient in keeping to their postoperative treatment and recovery plan.


Does medicine have a telos?

Medical practice has changed rapidly in recent decades. Debates challenging essentialist conceptions of medical practice have proliferated in light of changing attitudes toward of euthanasia and suicide, transgenderism, assisted reproduction and other ethically contentious medical practices. A new edition of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy attempts to grapple with these changes -- and the entrenchment of pluralism in Western liberal democracies -- by developing novel concepts of health, illness and disease that make no reference to the goals of medical practice.  

Guest editor Adam Omelianchuk goes to great lengths to emphasise just… MORE

Nabbing the “Golden State Killer” poses bioethics question

In late April this year, California police arrested a suspect believed to be the Golden State Killer -- a serial killer responsible for at least 12 murders and more than 50 rapes committed in the period 1976 to 1986. Controversially, authorities used an online gene-matching service, GEDMatch, to identify a suspect. Police uploaded a DNA sample that had been taken from one of the crime scenes and found that it matched with family members of a man named Joseph James DeAngelo, a former California police officer, now 72 years old. DeAngelo has since been charged with… MORE

The 50 year legacy of the Harvard brain death report

50 years ago, an ad hoc Harvard Medical School committee declared that patients in an “irreversible coma” were dead from a legal and ethical point of view. By irreversible coma, the committee had in mind “comatose individuals who have no discernible central nervous system activity”. In making this pronouncement, the committee was seeking to resolve a series of ethical and legal questions that had arisen since the advent of positive pressure ventilation and research into vital organ procurement.

The criterion was rapidly enshrined in law around the US and, indeed, the globe, and it became… MORE

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