Iceland dumps proposed ban on male circumcision

After a three-month national debate and lobbying from all over the world, a parliamentary committee in Iceland has shelved a proposed ban on male circumcision. The penalty for performing or organising a circumcision would have been a sentence of up to six years in prison.

The ban was proposed in February by Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir of the Progressive Party in the Althing, Iceland’s parliament. She described her bill as an attempt “to protect the interest of the child”. Circumcision of females had already been banned, she reasoned, why not of males? “Every individual, it doesn’t matter what sex or how… click here to read whole article and make comments

13 year old regains consciousness after parents sign organ donation forms

A 13-year-old American boy has regained consciousness after his parents had agreed to have life support turned off and his organs donated.

Trenton Mckinley from Mobile, Alabama, was in a comatose state after suffering severe head injuries when he was hit on the head by a flipped trailer. The boy had undergone several craniotomy surgeries, but had suffered kidney failure and cardiac arrest, and doctors believed that he would “never be normal again”. Doctors had talked to the family about donating five of Trenton’s organs that suited five other children, and the family had agreed… click here to read whole article and make comments

Spain to consider euthanasia laws after citizens initiative fails in Finland

Spain’s national parliament has voted to consider a bill that would legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in the country, though the prospects of legalisation succeeding are slim.

Parliamentarians voted 175-136 in favour of examining the bill, with 32 abstentions. The ruling Partido Popular opposed the examination of bill, while a series of smaller left-leaning parties supported it.

The bill seeks to alter article 143 of Spain’s criminal code, which currently prohibits assisting another person in ending their life. It would legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with a terminal and incurable… click here to read whole article and make comments

Malta debates IVF

The predominantly Catholic country of Malta is debating legislation that would liberalise its restrictive IVF laws and legalise altruistic surrogacy.

The Embryo Protection (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to amend the 2012 Embryo Protection Act, has been fiercely debated in parliament, with critics saying that it fails to protect human embryos. Nationalist MP Simon Busuttil, who addressed parliament during a second reading of the bill, said that the proposed legislation was unnecessary and potentially demeaning for women. Summarising his speech, he said:

“...I am against embryo freezing because, in oocyte vitrification, we already have… click here to read whole article and make comments

Overcoming language barriers and linguistic prejudice in medicine

The journal Bioethics will shortly release a special issue focusing on the theme of “migration, health and ethics”. One of the papers in the issue addresses the underexplored topic of language barriers in clinical practice.

In her paper “Language barriers and epistemic injustice in healthcare settings”, McGill University linguist Yael Pelad explores how both barriers within languages and barriers between languages can impede everything from diagnosis and treatment to consultation and termination of treatment.

Pelad suggests that communicative factors such as a patient’s accent can introduce subtle bias into a clinician's mind, particularly… click here to read whole article and make comments

104-year-old Australian scientist boards plane for Swiss suicide clinic

In a case which has attracted world-wide attention, a 104-year-old Australian scientist has boarded a plane which will take him to Switzerland to die at an assisted suicide clinic. Dr David Goodall, a distinguished ecologist who retired in 1979, is frail but not terminally ill. Hence, he is not eligible to move to the Australian state of Victoria to die there under its new euthanasia legislation.

A long-time member of Philip Nitschke’s Exit International organisation, Dr Goodall was able to find support for his request for assisted suicide overseas. A GoFundMe campaign organised by Dr Nitschke raised enough money… click here to read whole article and make comments

Warnock reminisces about her famous report on embryo experimentation

Baroness Mary Warnock, a distinguished Oxford ethicist, was the chair of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology of the UK Parliament in 1982-1984 – which produced the Warnock Report. Its recommendations eventually became the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which governs human fertility treatment and experimentation using human embryos in the UK.

At 94, she is still going strong. BioNews, of the Progress Educational Trust in London, interviewed her about the impact of the Warnock Report. Here are a few brief excerpts:

The selling point of her controversial recommendations:

I think the… click here to read whole article and make comments

Child removed from Britain’s oldest IVF parents

Britain’s oldest IVF parents have had their child removed by a government agency after they failed to meet minimum care requirements. The unnamed couple, the mother aged 63 and her partner 65, are “devastated”, according to a report in the London daily The Sun.

“Social services have been dealing with them since last year and told them to make improvements in how the child was being looked after,” The Sun was told. “They then decided that the called-for improvements had not happened and took the child into care.”

The couple live in the north of England. Last year they… click here to read whole article and make comments

German man forced to support IVF son created without his consent

Five years ago, a German couple, Karl and Inge, signed an agreement granting permission to an IVF clinic to create embryos with their frozen sperm and eggs. Then came divorce. Then Inge forged Karl’s signature twice to create embryos which resulted in the birth of a son. Then Karl was billed for child support.

Karl, unwilling to support children he had never consented to create, filed a lawsuit to be released from the obligation. He contended that after the separation he had revoked his permission for creating the embryos and that the clinic should assume financial support for the… click here to read whole article and make comments

Should driverless cars be utilitarian or egalitarian?

Debate over self-driving cars has intensified in the US following the two driverless vehicle fatalities in March. Some commentators argue that all driverless car tests should be halted until safety concerns are addressed.

Yet there is another question that requires urgent consideration, namely, “what kind of ethics should we program into driverless cars?”. Self-driving cars may face decisions involving a choice between which lives to prioritise in the event of an impending crash. And these decisions require ethical answers.

A new paper in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience analyses the… click here to read whole article and make comments

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