Till death do us part: Couple die together in Oregon

A controversial new documentary has been released in the US telling the story of an Oregon couple who took their own lives via lethal medication in April 2017.

The documentary recounts the story of Charlie and Francie Emerick, 88 and 87 respectively, who last year applied to the Oregon Health Authority for a lethal prescription after being diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Charlie was suffering from advanced Parkinson's Disease, and Francie had battled for several years with lymphoma.

The Emericks died at home in April 2017, surrounded by family. They had been married… click here to read whole article and make comments

Netherlands euthanasia case under renewed scrutiny

In a new article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, researchers from the National Institutes of Health offer an insightful analysis of one of the most controversial cases of euthanasia to have occured in the Netherlands.

Bioethicists David Gibbs Miller, Rebecca Dresser and Scott Kim analyse the official medical records of a severely demented woman who was euthanized in Holland in 2016. The woman, who was in her 70s, had her life ended by a geriatrician in aged care facility after having written an advance directive indicating her wishes for receiving euthanasia.

click here to read whole article and make comments

Landmark Indian ruling on advanced care directives and withdrawal of treatment

India's Supreme Court has handed down a landmark ruling authorising the use of “living wills” and streamlining the process for the withdrawal of treatment from dying patients.

The ruling -- which was in response to a plea made to the court by the public interest group "Common Cause" -- allows adults to write an advance directive indicating that they do not wish to receive life support if in a comatose or permanent vegetative state. The five-judge panel also outlined a process by which doctors and family members could apply through the courts to have life support… click here to read whole article and make comments

Martin Shkreli, “pharma bro”, sentenced to seven years in prison

Notorious former pharmaceutical executive and social media personality Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to seven years in prison, after being found guilty of defrauding investors.

On Friday, Shkreli wept in court as district court judge Kiyo Matsumoto handed down the sentence, which was more lenient than than the 15 years that prosecutors hoped for, but more severe than the 18 months requested by the defence.  

Shkreli was the co-founder of several hedge funds, the founder of biotech company Retrophin and the founder of the pharmaceutical company Turing Pharmaceuticals. He received widespread criticism… click here to read whole article and make comments

What does it mean to be a genetic parent?

In a world where assisted reproduction is becoming increasingly common, bioethicists are beginning to ask the question: “what counts as genetic parenthood?”.

It is tempting to think that genetic parenthood is about sharing half of one’s genes with another person. But this alone is not enough. Imagine a situation in which you had an identical twin, and your twin had a child. The child of your identical twin would share half of your genes. But would this make you their parent as well? Our intuitions tell us “no”.

In a new article… click here to read whole article and make comments

After 14 years, California’s stem cell agency finally gets a royalty cheque

Fourteen years after Californians voted an overwhelming Yes! to stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cells, and created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the agency has received its first royalty cheque. The amount? US$190,345.87.

Not even the staff of the controversial CIRM were inclined to boast about the return on investment for Californian tax-payers. Proposition 71, which voters approved in 2004, authorised a $3 billion bond issue to finance the CIRM. Instead, the CIRM’s communications director described it simply as “a little piece of history” and wrote on its blog that:

Maria Millan, CIRM’s President… click here to read whole article and make comments

Should lesbian couples have access to mitochondrial replacement therapy?

“Three parent babies!!!!” was a shock-horror headline across the world when the UK was debating mitochondrial replacement therapy a couple of years ago. This is a technique to avoid passing on mitochondrial diseases from mother to child. There are different methods, but they involve combining the nuclear DNA of the mother’s egg with healthy mitochondrial DNA from another woman and fertilisation with sperm.

The government’s fertility regulator, the HFEA, explained that this was meant to “to avoid passing on serious genetic diseases to future generations”. Under existing legislation, MRT can only be used for this purpose.

Much of the opposition… click here to read whole article and make comments

Euthanasia performed on Canadian prisoner

A request by a Belgian prisoner for euthanasia made international headlines not too long ago, even though he was not permitted to take advantage of the legislation.

But in a measure of how enthusiastically Canada has embraced euthanasia, one prisoner has already been killed under its Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) law, and three others have been approved. According to a report in CBC News, the death took place in a hospital outside of the prison, under the supervision of two correctional officers.

Correctional Service Canada (CSC) told CBC News that it had, to date, received eight requests for… click here to read whole article and make comments

Germline modification ‘would violate human dignity’

Three members of the Centre for Genetics and Society, a California-based lobby group, have published a stern critique of germline modification on human rights grounds. Writing in Open Global Rights, Marcy Darnovsky, Leah Lowthrop, and Katie Hasson argue that changing the genome “would violate human dignity, a concept at the core of human rights”.

it’s important to remind ourselves why key human rights documents specifically prohibited these practices, long before they were technically feasible. The medical justifications for human germline modification fall short, and the temptation to “enhance” future generations is profoundly dangerous. Down that road, our… click here to read whole article and make comments

Will a code of ethics make researchers ethical?

Research ethics is seen by many as an exercise in compliance. The so-called “principles” of research ethics, on this view, provide a minimum standard of ethical practice and they shield against the risk of professional sanction.

But a code of ethics drafted by the World Economic Forum Young Scientists Community offers a loftier picture of ethical practice in scientific research.

The Code of Ethics for Researchers encourages scientists not just to avoid negligence and harm, but also to consider the extent to which their research contributes valuable knowledge to some discipline or other, and whether their work has some practical… click here to read whole article and make comments

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