Alabama passes most restrictive abortion law in US

Alabama governor Kay Ivey signing the abortion bill

This week the American state of Alabama passed the country’s most restrictive abortion law. It bans abortion in all cases, including incest and rape, except if the mother’s life is in danger. Although the woman would not be penalised, the doctor’s role becomes a criminal offence, with a maximum penalty of 99 years in jail.

This is the latest in a wave of anti-abortion laws passed by state legislatures. Earlier this month Georgia passed a “heartbeat bill”, making abortion illegal once the foetal heartbeat is detected. This effectively pushes back the… MORE

Ontario appeals court affirms right of state to compel participation in euthanasia  

This week three judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that physicians can be forced to facilitate procedures they find morally objectionable, including euthanasia and assisted suicide, by connecting patients with willing providers (“effective referral”).

The Court of Appeal judgement concerned a 2018 decision by the Ontario Divisional Court that had been appealed by the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada and others. The litigation was a response to a compulsory “effective referral” policy imposed by Ontario’s state medical regulator, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

The Protection… MORE

4-year-old can begin transgender transition, says UK court

The High Court of the United Kingdom has affirmed the right of a 4-year-old boy to live as a girl.

As reported in the media, the facts of the case are a bit complicated and all names have been removed from reports. It appears that a foster couple was sending their their four-year-old son to school in a girl's uniform. Social workers accused them of being too quick to recognise the child (“H”) as suffering from gender dysphoria. They complained that the couple had “actively encouraged” the child and threatened to remove the child.

The couple riposted by producing… MORE

Are performance-reducing drugs for South African Olympian Caster Semenya ethical?

Caster Semenya / Citizen 59 / flickr 

South African Olympian Caster Semenya has been ordered by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to take medication to lower her natural levels of testosterone.

Other athletes have questioned whether Semenya really is a woman, because of her outstanding performance on the track. The IAAF contends that athletics requires a level playing field and that the “female classification” needs to be “protected”. It suggests that she take hormonal contraceptives to reduce testosterone.

The decision has been criticised for being inconsistent. While other athletes are banned from taking performance enhancing… MORE

Belgian doctors target vegan parents as abusive

Although media attention has focused on parents who encourage their transgender children to transition to the opposite sex, other parents are coming under attack. In Belgium, the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium (l’Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique) has called for parents who raise their children as vegans to be prosecuted. An estimated 3% of Belgian children are vegan and eat no animal products, including dairy and eggs.

“We must explain to the parents before compelling them,” said Professor Georges Casimir, who led the commission that wrote the report, “but we can no longer tolerate this endangerment.”

"This… MORE

Royal College of Physicians faces investigation over switch to neutrality on assisted dying  

Royal College of Physicians building 

In March, the UK’s Royal College of Physicians (RCP) changed its position on “assisted dying” from opposition to neutrality after conducting a poll of its members.

Dissidents, however, have denounced this as a “sham” and now the Charity Commission has launched an investigation into the controversy.

A Charity Commission officer told the RCP, which is a registered charity, in a letter that it was “unclear how the decision to change the position to neutral was determined . . . the matter raises concerns with regard to how the charity dealt with… MORE

French doctor investigated over ‘poisoning’ deaths

A French anaesthetist in the city of Besançon is being investigated over 24 cases of poisoning, including 9 deaths. Frederic Pechier, 47, has been under investigation for two years. During this time he has been banned from practicing medicine. If convicted, he could spend life in jail.

Local prosecutor Etienne Manteaux told the media that Pechier was often found close by when the cases occurred. He diagnosed the problem quickly – perhaps too quickly. Police suspect that he was creating emergencies in the operating theatre so that he could show off his talents.

Pechier has denied the allegations, but is… MORE

Nazi prisoners’ bodies buried… in pieces  

Tissue samples belong to 184 executed Nazi political prisoners have been buried in Berlin more than seven decades after their deaths.

The body parts were discovered at a property which had belonged to anatomy professor Hermann Stieve, of Berlin’s Charite Hospital.

Stieve experimented on bodies, mostly of women prisoners. He was particularly interested in whether stress had an impact on women’s reproductive cycles.

The prisoners were executed at Berlin-Plötzensee prison. They were immediately taken to Stieve’s laboratory for dissection. Afterwards he organised for cremation and interment.

Current CEO of Charite hospital Dr Karl Max Einhäupl said that the burial… MORE

Belgian tug-of-war over euthanasia for mental illness and dementia

Belgium’s leading advocate for euthanasia liberalisation is campaigning vigorously for euthanasia for people with dementia. According to the current euthanasia law, patients are only eligible if they are fully aware and competent. This can lead to distressing situations and must change, says Professor Wim Distelmans.

Distelmans is chairman of Belgium’s chairman of the Federal Euthanasia Commission, the body which assesses whether euthanasia cases have been carried out legally. But he is also the chairman of LEIF (the Life End Information Forum), Belgium’s leading end-of-life lobby.

LEIF has organised an online petition which has been signed by scores of well-known academics,… MORE

How can we curb a world-wide measles outbreak?

The measles epidemic in the United States continues to spread, with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicting that the next cities to see outbreaks will be Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.

Although CDC officials failed to predict an outbreak in New York City amongst Orthodox Jews, their forecasts, based on counties with low vaccination rates and on proximity to international airports, have been reasonably accurate.

Over the past five years 75% of measles cases have occurred in closely knit communities, like Somalis in Minneapolis, Amish in Ohio and ultra-orthodox Jews in Brooklyn.

In New York… MORE

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