Dutch OK Euthanasia for dementia patients</b>

The Dutch Justice Minister has backed a decision by the Procurators-General Council that dementia can be a valid reason for euthanasia, provided that certain conditions are met. The Council ruled last year that a doctor who agreed to a request by Alzheimer's patients for euthanasia should not be prosecuted, provided that their condition is accompanied by unbearable and hopeless suffering. click here to read whole article and make comments




Alan Trounson lobbies for therapeutic cloning at UN</b>

United Nations building in New York Australia's most prominent stem cell scientist,Alan Trounson, has joined other scientific luminaries in an attempt to sway a vote on human cloning in the United Nations later this year. Although reproduction cloning has been condemned by nearly everyone, a debate last year showed that the UN is split between countries championing therapeutic cloning and countries which want all forms of cloning banned. A Florida lawyer, Bernard Siegel, has marshalled a number of scientists, research institutes, biotechnology groups, venture capitalists and lawyers to form the Genetics Policy Institute.

Siegel… click here to read whole article and make comments





Obesity could sink Britain’s health system</b>

obesity The weight of obesity could sink the UK's cash-strapped National Health System predicts a gloomy report from the House of Commons Health Committee. "Obesity will bring levels of sickness that will put enormous strains on the NHS, perhaps even making a publicly funded health service unsustainable," it says.

If the obesity epidemic continues to spread, the MPs warned, there will be steep increases in diabetes, amputations, blindness and heart disease. "This will be the first generation where children die before their parents as a consequence of childhood diabetes," they said. Amongst other measures,… click here to read whole article and make comments





Ethical hurdles for face transplants</b>

Doctors at the University of Louisville in the US have successfully experimented with face transplants on cadavers and are now ready for living patients, according to a report in New Scientist. If the operation is approved by the university's ethics committee, the surgeons plan to offer it to people with severe facial injuries or disfigurement. Transplant surgeon Dr John Barker says that a person with a new face would not look like the donor.

The procedure is highly controversial. Only six months ago the Royal College of Surgeons of England advised doctors not to proceed with face transplants because of… click here to read whole article and make comments





Israeli organ traffickers shift operations to China</b>

An Israeli organ trafficking ring which was smashed in South Africa last year has shifted its operations to China, according to a report in the New York Times. A 52-year-old Tel Aviv man, Ilan Peri, is alleged to have organised at least 100 kidney transplants for Israelis. The Times profiled the case of an American woman from Brooklyn and a Brazilian man from the impoverished city of Recife in Durban. She paid brokers US$60,000 (a special discount because of family ties) and he received $6,000 from them. The operation was performed at St Augustine's Hospital in Durban. This is owned… click here to read whole article and make comments




Lax regulation lets Israeli scientists clone away</b>

Israel will be left in the dust in the biotechnology race unless researchers are given free rein in embryo research, scientists have told their government. Unlike most developed countries, Israel's regulations in this area are very lax. There are no monitoring mechanisms for cloning embryos and creating human embryonic stem cells and little oversight of research.

Some Israeli doctors are used to working on the ethical edge. Back in 1998 Israeli embryos were exported to the University of Wisconsin where James Thomson used them to create the first human embryonic stem cells. In recent years Israeli IVF doctors have dabbled… click here to read whole article and make comments





Case study shows flaws in Oregon suicide law</b>

Opponents of Oregon's assisted suicide law have highlighted a "mistake" made by a doctor who prescribed a lethal dose of barbiturates to mentally unstable patient without a terminal illness. Under the law only patients of sound mind with less than six months to live are eligible.

In a case study presented to the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in May, Dr Gregory Hamilton, of the lobby group Physicians for Compassionate Care (PCC), said that Michael F. Freeland had a long history of depression and suicide attempts. In the last year of his life, he was twice declared mentally… click here to read whole article and make comments





The bioethics of torture</B></P>

In the Australian state of Tasmania, an eminent oceanographer has received a 12-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to the assisted suicide of his elderly mother in December 2002. The case was widely reported because 88-year-old Elizabeth Godfrey had been a local celebrity as a television chef. The euthanasia lobby was buoyed up by the light sentence and also by sympathetic remarks from Justice Peter Underwood. The judge said that John Godfrey had been motivated "solely by compassion and love" and suggested that people too ill to kill themselves deserved to be helped. In words which appeared to cast suicide… click here to read whole article and make comments




Nitschke calls for new strategy to legalise euthanasia</b>

In an editorial in Exit Australia's official journal Dr Philip Nitschke has outlined a "tougher and smarter" strategy for promoting the legalisation of euthanasia without creating "a trail of martyrs". He is attempting to form "a leaderless network that can spread required information throughout a supportive group". One facet of this new approach is his workshops on do-it-yourself suicide devices.

"The days when kindly doctors travelled around helping the seriously ill to die, while details of these activities were then used to call for legislative change are gone," he writes. "The model is dated, fragile and dangerous, and to date… click here to read whole article and make comments





Patient feedback leads to a better death</b>

Asking terminal patients about how well they are being cared for may be an easy, cost-free way of improving their quality of life. Bioethicists at the University of Toronto asked 36 seriously ill patients how they perceived their care. Three-quarters of them thought it was good or excellent -- an encouraging statistic, but one that left room for improvement. But when a doctor routinely asked patients about their concerns and then relayed their responses to medical staff, a third of them reported that care had improved.

"This study offers the promise of an inexpensive way to tackle the problem of… click here to read whole article and make comments




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