Cook, Michael
762 Articles at Lifeissues.net

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.com

Website:http://www.mercatornet.com/

Articles

New! Is human gene editing around the corner?

The development of CRISPR gene editing technology has quickly led to calls for modifying the human germline.

Date posted: 2017-11-20

New! How many older gays secretly oppose same-sex marriage?

There's a clear generation gap between older and younger homosexuals.

Date posted: 2017-11-19

New! We need to address questions of gender in assisted dying

One of the principal motivations behind current efforts to legalise assisted suicide in Victoria and New South Wales (and most jurisdictions) is patient autonomy. However, research suggests "gendered risks" may thwart women's autonomy in end-of-life decisions, making them uniquely vulnerable to assisted suicide laws.

Date posted: 2017-11-07

New! If you want to be a surrogate, make sure you have a lawyer

Another chapter in The Reproductive Revolution, this time (as so many other times) from California via a report by Jane Ridley in the New York Post. Jessica Allen, 31, already had two sons with her partner and decided to give the gift of life to another couple as a surrogate mother.

Date posted: 2017-11-07

The emerging technology of 'synthetic embryology'

Although experimentation on human embryos is tightly controlled in the United States. American scientists may have found a way around this restriction. According to the MIT Technology Review, some scientists are creating embryo-like structures from stem cells.

Date posted: 2017-10-22

Costa Rica becoming hub for global organ trafficking

A trial of four doctors and their accomplices in Costa Rica, one of the main countries for international medical tourism, is opening up a window on global organ trafficking.

Date posted: 2017-10-15

Will assisted suicide always provide a quick and gentle death?

No, sorry, not always.

Date posted: 2017-10-15

Pope doubles down on marriage document

In an informal gathering in Colombia last month, he insisted that his critics are wrong.

Date posted: 2017-10-15

Is fear of being a burden a good reason for assisted suicide?

In Oregon, 48.9% of patients who ended their lives under the state's assisted suicide act said that fear of being a burden was one of their reasons. We should be very worried by this, argues Charles Foster, a British medical ethicist, in the blog Practical Ethics.

Date posted: 2017-09-17

Think. For. Yourself.

Independent thinking is being penalised at many universiti

Date posted: 2017-09-02

Does same-sex marriage promote gay health?

Studies from Denmark and Sweden show that there is greater risk of suicide.

Date posted: 2017-09-02

Dutch couple choose euthanasia together

It's an increasingly common practice in the Netherlands, it seems

Date posted: 2017-09-02

About that poster

A poster in Melbourne against same-sex marriage may be offensive and provocative, but its statistics are correct.

Date posted: 2017-09-02

China rushes into embryo selection

Gene-editing with CRISPR has been in the headlines over the past month and touted as a way of eliminating genetic diseases.

Date posted: 2017-09-01

Doctors accuse Australian Medical Association of misleading public on 'marriage equality'

A former state president of the Australian Medical Association is among a group of doctors urging the AMA to retract its "fatally flawed" position statement on marriage equality.

Date posted: 2017-08-14

Latest end-of-life statistics from the Netherlands

More statistics about euthanasia from the Netherlands, based on the latest figures from 2015. Nearly one death in 20 (4.5%) is now due to euthanasia.

Date posted: 2017-08-14

Commercial surrogacy still thriving in India

Efforts to ban commercial surrogacy in India are hitting one speed bump after another. At the moment, despite lobbying from IVF clinics, the government has banned the practice for overseas clients. However, there is still a thriving business in local surrogacy.

Date posted: 2017-08-14

Human embryos modified to eliminate a single-gene disease

American and Korean scientists have published in Nature the details of how they successfully edited a single gene in human embryos. A team of American, Chinese and Korean scientists led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University used gene-editing CRISPR/Cas9 technology to eliminate a gene, MYBPC3, linked to a heart disorder.

Date posted: 2017-08-14

Declining sperm count could lead to 'extinction'

In the first systematic review of trends in sperm count, researchers this week reported in the journal Human Reproduction Update a significant decline in sperm concentration and total sperm count among men from Western countries.

Date posted: 2017-08-03

In the Charlie Gard controversy, the NY Times backs infanticide

The case of dying English baby Charlie Gard shows how much public opinion about life and death issues is swayed by emotion rather than thoughtful deliberation. In an op-ed this week the NY Times hits rock bottom.

Date posted: 2017-07-16

CIA waterboarding was illegal human experimentation: report

For years now, the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program after 9/11 has been under fire for being torture. The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says that it should also be framed as illegal and unethical human experimentation.

Date posted: 2017-07-07

Transgender puberty blues

Physicians should be cautious about embracing experimental therapies in general, but especially those intended for children, and should particularly avoid any experimental therapy that has virtually no scientific evidence of effectiveness or safety. Regardless of the good intentions of the physicians and parents, to expose young people to such treatments is to endanger them.

Date posted: 2017-07-07

As demographic winter sets in, the world will need far more palliative care

A British study shows that the world is far from prepared.

Date posted: 2017-06-23

A Dutch euthanasia pioneer surveys the wreckage and despairs

Safeguards for the mentally ill and the demented are slipping away.

Date posted: 2017-06-23

A feminist argument against artificial gametes

In vitro gametogenesis (IVG)is one of the nightmares of conservative bioethicists.

Date posted: 2017-06-02

The Economist's free market ideology fails vulnerable women

The world's most influential news magazine is campaigning for commercial surrogacy. Why not cannibalism?

Date posted: 2017-06-02

Doctors launch online pledge against torture

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has launched an online pledge for health professionals across the United States to reject torture as an absolute wrong which can never be sanctioned.

Date posted: 2017-05-23

Moral enhancement won't work, claim bioethicists

A recent study in the journal Bioethics finds that "moral enhancement technologies" are neither feasible nor wise, based on an assessment of existing research into these technologies.

Date posted: 2017-05-23

Cheap, effective alternative to IVF may be possible

The fertility industry could have a strong competitor after a cheap, simple, time-tested fertility remedy has been proved to be even more effective than IVF.

Date posted: 2017-05-23

The Economist backs surrogacy

The world's most influential news magazine has given commercial surrogacy full-throated support.

Date posted: 2017-05-23

Do we have a right to a child?

Surrogacy is included in a payout to a Canadian woman injured in a horrific car accident.

Date posted: 2017-05-23

UK Gay dads go into international surrogacy business

Britain's most famous gay dads are at the centre of a controversy over their surrogate mother business. Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow were the first same-sex couple in Europe to have their names on the birth certificates of their children. Now they have four sons and a daughter created with the help of a variety of egg donors and surrogates.

Date posted: 2017-05-22

Should American doctors participate in executions?

The American state of Arkansas executed four prisoners in April. They were given a lethal injection with a three-drug cocktail, a procedure which requires some medical skills. Should doctors take part in such executions?

Date posted: 2017-05-09

Autonomy: what a useless idea!

Autonomy has become a slogan justifying almost everything. And like most slogans, it is almost meaningless.

Date posted: 2017-05-08

Do LGBT parents have a right to a full genetic relationship?

The possibility of creating synthetic gametes (eggs from male stem cells, sperm from female stem cells) raises some interesting ethical issues. LGBT couples currently depend upon a third party to contribute opposite-sex gametes. This means that their children will never be fully genetically related and that their relationship depends on outside intervention

Date posted: 2017-05-07

Counting Down syndrome Americans

Down syndrome is the leading cause of intellectual disability in the United States. But how many Americans have Down syndrome? There is no clear answer to that question, as the US does not record this information systematical

Date posted: 2017-05-07

Recreating the womb for preemies

Researchers have moved a step closer to ectogenesis - brewing babies in an artificial womb. A team at the Center for Fetal Research in Philadelphia have developed a womb-like environment in which premature lambs have already lived at least four weeks before being delivered.

Date posted: 2017-05-07

Belgian Catholic psychiatric hospitals 'adjust' their view of euthanasia

One of the last substantial barriers to increasing the number of euthanasia cases for non-terminally-ill psychiatric patients in Belgium seems to have crumbled.

Date posted: 2017-05-07

Swedish midwife opposed to abortion appeals to European Court of Human Rights

Swedish midwife Ellinor Grimmark has decided to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights over Sweden's hard line on conscientious objection.

Date posted: 2017-05-05

Euthanised organ donors could dramatically shorten waitlists in Belgium, say doctors

Several Belgian physicians argue in a recent research letter in JAMA that encouraging the practice of organ donation after euthanasia will help reduce the waitlists for organ donation.

Date posted: 2017-05-04

Dutch doctors oppose plans for 'completed life' euthanasia

Although Dutch government proposals for euthanasia for "completed life" - that is, for elderly people who want to step off the treadmill gracefully - have received a lot of publicity, they have not been legislated.

Date posted: 2017-04-19

Arkansas rushes to execute 7 in 11 days

The American state of Arkansas has not executed anyone for more than 10 years. And now, because it cannot source a crucial ingredient in a lethal cocktail of drugs after April 30, 7 inmates are scheduled to die in 11 days. Another one was granted a stay of execution on Thursday.

Date posted: 2017-04-19

Sperm bring in 'serious money' for London hospital

Sperm is becoming a commercialised commodity. In the UK a hospital run by the National Health Service (NHS) in London is planning to meet its budget by selling it. Although the hospital is non-for-profit, it is allowed to sell sperm.

Date posted: 2017-04-19

Syria's sarin attack part of the 'weaponisation' of healthcare

The deaths of possibly 100 Syrian civilians, including children, after a gas attack, is just a ghastlier incident in an unending series of ghastly deaths which seem designed to destroy the rebel health system.

Date posted: 2017-04-16

Will India ban commercial surrogacy?

The government of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has released a draft of a bill regulating the controversial surrogacy industry.

Date posted: 2017-04-16

Redefining gender roles: hubbie gives birth

Another dispatch from the Wild West of assisted reproduction. "Husband Gave Birth To His First Child After Wife Was Unable To Fall Pregnant" was the irresistible headline in the Huffington Post UK.

Date posted: 2017-04-01

Is the 14-day limit on growing embryos out of date?

Both in the US and UK, growing human embryos more than 14 days in a laboratory is banned. Recent developments suggest that it may be possible to grow them for longer and a number of scientists are lobbying to extend the limit. They contend that the limit is out-of-date and too restrictive.

Date posted: 2017-04-01

When stem cell treatments go wrong, they really go wrong

Three elderly women in Florida have been blinded by an unproven treatment, as a reminder of how dangerous stem cell therapies can be.

Date posted: 2017-04-01

IVF world market to reach US$12 billion

The world market for IVF and IVF products will grow from US$8.4 billion this year to $12.5 billion on 2022, according to a report from a market research company.

Date posted: 2017-03-21

Will curing the deaf lead to 'cultural genocide'?

t is estimated that half of the world's estimated 7,000 languages are in danger of disappearing. Under pressure from dominant languages to assimilate, linguistic communities shrink, wither and disappear. Every fortnight, the last fluent speaker of a language dies, according to some experts.

Date posted: 2017-03-21

Vegans versus humanity

An international campaign seeks to make animals honorary humans. The fact is that people who think that animals should be treated with all the respect and tenderness due to human beings will end up treating human beings like animals.

Date posted: 2017-03-18

Radical individualism is at the heart of gender theory

The love that dared not speak its name in 1894 has become the love that cannot stop gabbling on in 2017. How did this come about? Is there a thread connecting Oscar Wilde, the Stonewall Riots, same-sex marriage, Caitlin Jenner and North Caroline bathrooms? What does this mean for democracy and the family?

Date posted: 2017-03-17

More misleading statistics about gay youth suicides

It always pays to take a closer look at the figures in the headlines

Date posted: 2017-03-09

One very good reason why Americans distrust scientists

Because they have opened a door to legalising eugenics

Date posted: 2017-03-09

Is denying transgender rights a kind of torture?

A completely different way of viewing transgender issues comes from the Oxford Human Rights Hub. Geoffrey Yeung, a Hong Kong activist studying at Oxford, argued last year that restrictions on transgender people are banned by the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT).

Date posted: 2017-02-23

If sex reassignment surgery is the answer, what is the question?

Sex reassignment surgery requires the intervention of doctors. But what kind of treatment is it? Is it a therapy for a disease which should be offered only after psychiatric authorization? Or is it a biomedical enhancement which anyone can freely choose.

Date posted: 2017-02-23

Hollywood's hypocrisy on immigration

Hollywood's A-List has blamed Donald Trump for whipping up hysteria about immigrants. They should take a good look in the mirror. For decades Hollywood has tutored Americans in xenophobia.

Date posted: 2017-02-21

Struggling woman with dementia euthanised in Netherlands

Relatives had to hold her down so that the doctor could give the lethal injection.

Date posted: 2017-02-21

The British report which launched gay rights

The 1957 Wolfenden report changed the UK for ever. These flimsy arguments never would and never could stem the flourishing of a homosexual culture in Britain. In fact, 60 years later Britons live in a country where same-sex marriage is legal and criticism of homosexuality is taboo.

Date posted: 2017-02-15

Euthanasia could save Canada millions in healthcare costs

Euthanasia only became legal in June and already about 800 people have received a lethal injection at the hands of a doctor.

Date posted: 2017-02-15

The increasingly convincing link between autism and gender dysphoric kids

The number of autistic kids is skyrocketing. The number of transgender kids is skyrocketing. Is there a link?

Date posted: 2017-02-10

Swedish midwife fights for her conscience rights

Ellinor Grimmark has been refused employment at several hospitals in the Jonkoping region because she has declared that abortion is against her conscience and her religious convictions.

Date posted: 2017-02-10

Nazi euthanasia victims honoured in Bundestag

On January 27, Germany's Bundestag commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the inmates of Auschwitz concentration camp. This year the focus was placed on the 300,000 disabled victims of the notorious Aktion T-4 euthanasia program.

Date posted: 2017-02-10

Catholic healthcare in Colorado may clash with new assisted suicide law

The US state of Colorado has legalized assisted suicide, but its large Catholic hospital system is refusing to cooperate, according to STAT.

Date posted: 2017-02-03

Using patents to restrict harmful applications of CRISPR

The new CRISPR gene-editing technology is an incredible tool, but it could be used for ethically-troubling procedures like human eugenics, modification of human germline cells, genetically-modified crops, gene drives to wipe out species and on and on and on. How can its uses be restricted?

Date posted: 2017-02-02

Stem cell biology may revolutionise reproduction

Scientists are close to finding out how to create eggs and sperm in a Petri dish.

Date posted: 2017-01-24

Spain, organ donation champion of the world

Spain is leading the world in deceased organ donation. An article in the American Journal of Transplantation explains how this happened.

Date posted: 2017-01-24

Destination Laos: the ever-changing surrogacy business changes again

The dreary design of the website and Facebook page of Find Surrogate Mother (aka surrogacy inc) makes depressing reading. The business describes itself as "a full service Surrogacy Agency in Manila, Philippines, helping to match Surrogate Mothers, Intended Parents, Egg Donors, Sperm Donors [which] provide[s] services for Heterosexual Couple, Gay Couple, Lesbian Couple, Single Woman, Single Man".

Date posted: 2017-01-24

Sperm and eggs grown in a Petri dish could revolutionise reproduction

The imminent arrival of eggs and sperm grown from skin cells makes legislative change imperative, three Ivy League professors argue in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Date posted: 2017-01-24

Canadian bioethicists call for organ donor euthanasia

Well, that didn't take long. Euthanasia became legal in Canada in June and by December Quebec bioethicists had already published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics calling for organ donation after euthanasia. In fact, they were reflecting the positive opinions of the both the Quebec government and Transplant Quebec.

Date posted: 2017-01-24

Nitschke ramps up campaign for unrestricted suicide

Philip Nitschke is one of the world’s most famous Australians, although he has recently moved to the Netherlands. He helps people to kill themselves, mostly by directing them to lethal drugs or supplying them with bottled gas.

Date posted: 2017-01-17

Converting the miserabilists

The fundamental question in confronting euthanasia is whether life is worth living.

Date posted: 2017-01-17

Murky picture of IVF complications in UK

Five years ago, a paper published in the BMJ came to the startling conclusion that IVF was more dangerous than abortion in the UK.

Date posted: 2017-01-17

The ‘gay stigma kills’ mantra is wrong

Research showing that structural stigma reduces life expectancy is false.

Date posted: 2017-01-17

Pressure mounts for commercial surrogacy in Australia

As clinics offering cheap surrogacy overseas shut their doors to foreigners, pressure is mounting in Australia to permit commercial surrogacy.

Date posted: 2017-01-17

Frozen stiff: the quackery of cryonics

A 14-year-old British girl dying of cancer recently won a court battle to be cryogenically frozen.

Date posted: 2017-01-01

Netherlands offers euthanasia for alcoholics

It's certainly less bother than a 12-step program in Alcoholics Anonymous

Date posted: 2016-12-30

The inhumanity of euthanasia in Belgium

This brilliant short documentary explains why euthanasia abandons patients.

Date posted: 2016-12-30

Frozen stiff: the quackery of cryonics

A 14-year-old British girl dying of cancer recently won a court battle to be cryogenically frozen.

Date posted: 2016-12-29

Death from the skies

The data is sketchy, but drones authorized by President Obama have killed about 100 civilians and about 2,500 enemy combatants. The drones bring death from the skies. Australian euthanasia entrepreneur Dr Philip Nitschke, has a similar idea: delivering suicide drugs by drone to nursing homes.

Date posted: 2016-11-29

Doctors association refuses to back euthanasia in Australia

After surveying its members the Australian Medical Association has reaffirmed its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Date posted: 2016-11-29

Dutch team creates 3D atlas of human embryo

Dutch anatomists have published an amazing 3D atlas of the human embryo.

Date posted: 2016-11-29

California prepares for assisted suicide of patients in mental hospitals

California's new End of Life Option Act, which permits assisted suicide, has some disturbing consequences According to recently passed regulations terminally ill patients in mental hospitals have a right to request assisted suicide.

Date posted: 2016-11-27

Dying British teenager won right to be cryogenically preserved

A 14-year-old British girl who was dying of cancer won a court battle last month to be cryogenically frozen in the hope of being revived in 200 years' time.

Date posted: 2016-11-27

Australian IVF clinics attacked by regulator over deceptive advertising

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has delivered a blistering attack on the advertising practices of IVF clinics.

Date posted: 2016-11-27

Steep increase in Swiss assisted suicide

The latest government statistics for assisted suicides in Switzerland reveal a 26% increase over the previous year. Most of those who died by assisted suicide were said to be terminally ill.

Date posted: 2016-10-30

Rediscovering the origin of the sexual revolution

Without sugar-coating the past, a bare half a century ago divorce was rare, churches were full, most movies were family-friendly, modesty was praiseworthy. Today, octogenarian mums and dads of that era mutter as they look around at their grandchildren: "whatever happened to the world I remember?"

Date posted: 2016-10-30

No Chinese baby boom after new two-child policy

China's recently introduced universal two-child policy is predicted to have a relatively small effect on population growth, with a likely peak of 1.45 billion in 2029, compared to 1.4 billion in 2023 if the one-child policy had continued, according to academics writing in The Lancet.

Date posted: 2016-10-30

Norway to allow foetal reduction of multiple births

Norwegian health officials have ruled that not only is foetal reduction legal for residents, but that women from foreign countries can seek it as well. The controversial procedure involves aborting one or more healthy babies in a multiple pregnancy

Date posted: 2016-10-30

Indonesian President adamant on chemical castration policy

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has told the BBC that his new policy of chemical castration could "wipe out" paedophilia in his country. He said that "our constitution respects human rights, but when it comes to sexual crimes there is no compromise. We are strong and we will be very firm. We will hand out the maximum penalty for sexual crimes."

Date posted: 2016-10-30

We will help you die of boredom: Dutch govt

It's hard to understand why Dutch politicians are so proud of "completed life" euthanasia. Isn't that the proper role of governments: to foster a society in which people feel glad to be alive?

Date posted: 2016-10-30

Can we trust 'breakthrough' science?

Ethical reasoning which relies on empirical studies will often be flawed.

Date posted: 2016-10-15

Controversy swirls around AIDS drug in UK

When a conservative Christian journalist writes a story about a highly-praised AIDS drug headlined "Killing Grandma for Gay sex" and an AIDS activist describes it as a "profit-driven sex toy for rich Westerners", you know that you've uncovered an ethical controversy.

Date posted: 2016-10-15

New Australian book on marriage hits censorship roadblock

Why are gay marriage supporters afraid to debate?

Date posted: 2016-09-27

Is there really no difference between straight and gay parenting?

Much of the jousting over same-sex marriage, same-sex parenting and transgender issues takes place in a fact-free arena. Fortunately, there has been a pushback from academics dismayed by the lack of academic rigour. The consensus is flawed by small-scale studies, badly framed questions and poorly understood data.

Date posted: 2016-09-21

The new religion of transgenderism in Australian schools

Australia's Safe Schools program is so bizarre and fact-free that you can describe it as a cult, says an academic.

Date posted: 2016-09-21

First child euthanised in Belgium

A terminally ill youngster been euthanised in Belgium - the first since Parliament lifted all age restrictions in 2014. The head of the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia, Dr Wim Distelmans, confirmed that the case had been reported by a local doctor last week.

Date posted: 2016-09-21

Swedish medicine in turmoil over stem cell researcher

On yet another front, Obamacare has been challenged on ethical grounds, this time for allegedly forcing doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children.

Date posted: 2016-09-21

Has Obamacare created a "transgender mandate"

On yet another front, Obamacare has been challenged on ethical grounds, this time for allegedly forcing doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children.

Date posted: 2016-09-21

Are abortions for cleft palate rising in the UK?

Abortions for cleft palate, an easily-fixed facial deformity, have been rising in the United Kingdom, according to the latest official figures. In 2015, 11 were carried out. The comparable figure in 2012 was 4.

Date posted: 2016-09-21

What's in the IVF Petri dish?

With as many as one in 25 children being born through IVF in some countries, you would think that doctors understand the health risks perfectly. Not so.

Date posted: 2016-09-11

Is IVF changing the course of human evolution?

Evolution is caused by the differential reproduction of individuals with certain features. So surely IVF, which enables people to reproduce who are unable to do so naturally, must be having an effect upon human evolution.

Date posted: 2016-09-11

Kids with Trisomy 13 and 18 can have good quality of life

Should babies with Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 18 be given life-sustaining treatment? Both conditions are associated with severe physical and intellectual disabilities and most die children in their first year. So until recently, few of them were treated. Doctors regarded the conditions as "lethal congenital anomalies".

Date posted: 2016-09-11

Marie Stopes abortion services suspended in UK

Government regulators have closed some services of a leading abortion provider in the United Kingdom, citing vague concerns about "corporate and clinical governance arrangements and patient safety protocols in specific areas".

Date posted: 2016-09-11

India may ban all commercial surrogacy

The Indian government plans to impose a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and to permit it only for legally married Indian couples. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 would ban unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals from engaging surrogate mothers. Nothing but altruistic surrogacy would be permitted.

Date posted: 2016-09-11

Let's have a SCIENCE-based debate about LGBT issues

A landmark report from the US questions cliched views of homosexuality and transgenderism

Date posted: 2016-08-28

The pain of Indian surrogate mothers

It's only anecdotal evidence, but a BBC story from the Indian city of Chennai shows that surrogate mothers feel emotionally traumatized by the wrench of surrendering a child whom they have carried for nine months. The money they earn does not compensate them for this pain. There are a dozen or more clinics in Chennai which broker surrogate babies, employing about 150 surrogate mothers.

Date posted: 2016-08-28

Is unbearable pain still a reason for euthanasia?

"Growing old isn't so bad when you consider the alternative," used to be a joke. But for supporters of legalised euthanasia, the alternative looks better than growing old. Some recent research shows that there is some confusion about the aims of the movement.

Date posted: 2016-08-19

Is transhumanism really the world's most dangerous idea?

Step by step, our lives are being absorbed by technology.

Date posted: 2016-07-25

Who's telling the truth about China's bioethics?

"What we're trying to do is get the government, the party state in Beijing, to stop killing their own people for their organs," David Kilgour, a human-rights activist and former Canadian MP, told the Toronto Globe and Mail. "An industrial-scale crime against humanity is going on in China."

Date posted: 2016-07-17

British doctors reject neutrality on assisted dying

When a proposal to adopt a neutral stance failed by a huge margin, 63% to 37%, on June 21, it was only reported by a few Christian and pro-life blogs.

Date posted: 2016-07-11

Chinese clinics advertise for sperm donors

Another Chinese scientist is stretching medical ethics to the breaking point. According to the New York Times, Dr. Ren Xiaoping of Harbin Medical University, is planning to do a body transplant. Several patients have already volunteered for the daring experiment, which involves attaching the head of a live person to the body of a cadaver.

Date posted: 2016-06-26

Chinese surgeon is planning a body transplant

Another Chinese scientist is stretching medical ethics to the breaking point. According to the New York Times, Dr. Ren Xiaoping of Harbin Medical University, is planning to do a body transplant. Several patients have already volunteered for the daring experiment, which involves attaching the head of a live person to the body of a cadaver

Date posted: 2016-06-26

When will transgender women deliver babies?

If we welcome transgender women, are transgender mothers a big deal? Although surgeons are still mastering the technique of transplanting wombs, patients are already asking when this will become possible.

Date posted: 2016-06-26

Will Belgium grant euthanasia for unwanted sexual attraction?

Along with unbearable physical pain, mental suffering, and dementia, a new reason for seeking euthanasia in Belgium has emerged in the media: paedophilia.

Date posted: 2016-06-25

Let's increase organ transplant rates by encouraging euthanasia patients to donate, say doctors

The doctors are so enthusiastic about the procedure that they have proposed legal changes which will speed up the procedure and maximize the number of donations.

Date posted: 2016-06-25

A woman's right to choose surrogacy

A Ukrainian clinic uses feminist rhetoric to sell its services.

Date posted: 2016-06-07

Indonesia legalises chemical castration for sex offenders

Chemical castration will be a sentencing option for judge in Indonesia. President Joko Widodo has signed a decree authorizing this penalty for convicted child sex offenders. Those who have been released on parole must wear electronic monitoring devices.

Date posted: 2016-06-07

Landmark UK decision broadens scope of surrogacy

In a landmark decision, the High Court in the UK has ruled that it is discriminatory to prevent single men or women from becoming the parents of babies born to surrogate mothers. The government will probably have to update its legislation to make it compatible with the ruling.

Date posted: 2016-06-07

Scientists discuss synthetic human genome behind closed doors

According to an exclusive report in the New York Times, 150 scientists, lawyers and entrepreneurs gathered behind closed doors at Harvard earlier this month to discuss creating a synthetic human genome.

Date posted: 2016-06-06

Washington Post features symposium on transhumanism

As a sign of growing interest in transhumanism, the Washington Post recently featured a symposium with several distinguished writers. It may indicate a growing interest in its aspirations, in an election year when a transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan, is seriously running for President.

Date posted: 2016-06-06

IVF expert complains about unjustifiable use of ICSI around the world

The editor-in-chief of one of the world's leading reproductive medicine journals has attacked the rising use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for the treatment of infertility, following publication of the latest world report on assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Date posted: 2016-06-05

A gorilla grabs your kid: should you shoot?

That bioethicists regard the lives of animals as more important than infants or disabled humans is a common complaint amongst their critics. The death of a silverback gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo serves as a test of this hypothesis.

Date posted: 2016-06-05

A British Muslim pushes for polygamy after same-sex marriage

Although polygamy is permitted under sharia law, most Muslim men do not have two, three or four wives. In fact, according to "The Salafi Feminist", a Canadian blogger, average Muslims view second wives "as little more than secret mistresses, home-wreckers, and simply selfish".

Date posted: 2016-05-30

The wrong lesson from Hiroshima

It's not weakness to regard dropping atom bombs on two Japanese cities as immoral.

Date posted: 2016-05-15

Chinese policy on organ transplants is just smoke and mirrors, say critics

The issue of harvesting organs from political prisoners in China to supply the country's more than 160 transplant centres is not just controversial, but explosive.

Date posted: 2016-05-15

Dutch euthanasia cases up by 4%

The number of euthanasia cases in the Netherlands continues to rise steadily. According to the latest statistics released by the government, in 2015 there were 147,010 deaths in the country. Of these 5,516 were reported to be euthanasia or assisted suicide (only 208 cases). This is rise of 4% over the figures for 2014.

Date posted: 2016-05-15

Australian govt report backs ban on domestic commercial surrogacy

A government report has backed calls for an international treaty on surrogacy and for uniform legislation within Australia banning commercial surrogacy.

Date posted: 2016-05-15

Dutch paediatricians seek child euthanasia

The Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers, has earmarked almost 400,000 Euros for a study of whether to expand eligibility for euthanasia to children between 1 and 12. At the moment, children under 1 may be killed with the consent of their parents following criteria set out in the Groningen Protocols. Children older than 12 are already eligible.

Date posted: 2016-05-15

Indigenous Canadians fear impending euthanasia law

As southern Canada prepares to roll out euthanasia after last year's Supreme Court decision, the Dene, an aboriginal group of First Nation people, are awaiting it with fear.

Date posted: 2016-05-13

Donor anonymity is dead

Guaranteeing the anonymity of sperm and egg donors is a controversial topic. On the one hand children may want to connect with their biological parents; on the other, the parents may have agreed to donate only because the transaction was anonymous.

Date posted: 2016-05-05

Horrific abuse case raises questions over international surrogacy

An Australian case of sexual exploitation of infants has raised questions about international surrogacy. An unnamed 49-year-old man in rural Victoria has pleaded guilty to abusing not only two young nieces, but twins whom he fathered with the help of a donated egg from a woman in Ukraine at an IVF clinic in Asia.

Date posted: 2016-05-05

'Genetic sexual attraction' could become issue for kids of sperm donors

The British press is a fathomless mine of lurid but thought-provoking, strange-but-true explorations of the dark side of the human condition. Last week's revelation was published in a magazine called The New Day -- a passionate incestuous romance between a 51-year-old British woman and her 32-year-old American son.

Date posted: 2016-04-21

Chinese scientists modify human embryos in second experiment

A year after the first genetically-engineered human embryos were created in China, a different Chinese team has repeated the experiment, with much the same results: failure.

Date posted: 2016-04-21

Gendercide becomes an issue in Canada

The researchers believe that over the past 20 years, there are 4,472 "missing" girls in Canada as a result of a preference for males amongst Indian immigrants. This happens mostly when both parents were born in India.

Date posted: 2016-04-21

The tangled knot of the last taboo

The British press is a fathomless mine of lurid but thought-provoking, strange-but-true explorations of the dark side of the human condition.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

Testing anti-paedophilia drugs

How do you run an ethical randomised trial to stop paedophilia? This is the question that hovers over research into drugs which are intended to stop unwanted sexual impulses.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

Ban on embryo research survives challenge in Italy

Italy's Constitutional Court has reaffirmed the legitimacy of a ban on human embryo research. In a decision late last month the Court declared that Article 13 of Law 40, a 2004 law on assisted reproduction, was constitutional.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

Wrap yourself in a rainbow and carry a big stick

The Dominican Republic is the latest victim of LGBT bullying by the US government.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

The battle over bathrooms

Urinals as a political flashpoint? The last time urinals created so much controversy in the United States was in 1917 when the Surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp submitted a porcelain urinal to a New York art show. And in truth, there is something surrealistic about the debate surrounding North Carolina's new law on who can enter public bathrooms.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

LGBT rift over surrogacy?

It's not just bio-conservatives who are troubled and puzzled by the growth of surrogate motherhood. Writing in the Huffington Post, Keston Ott-Dahl, the lesbian co-mother of a Down syndrome daughter, confesses that there is conflict in the LGBT community as well.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

The Netherlands is normalising euthanasia, says Dutch ethicist

A former member of a euthanasia review board in the Netherlands has written a stinging attack on the policy he once formed part of.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

Doing the right thing by transgender kids is not easy

A US$5.7 million study of the long-term outcomes of medical treatment for transgender youth begins recruiting in May. But knotty ethical questions remain unanswered.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

That euthanasia stuff... does anyone remember what we decided?

Dr Fonck, a renal physician who was a minister in the government of Elio di Rupo, queried Health Minister Maggie De Block about why the full text of the country's euthanasia law has never been published.

Date posted: 2016-04-14

Everybody's a winner when euthanasia combines with organ donation, say doctors

Several Dutch and Belgian doctors have proposed legal reforms to increase the popularity of combining euthanasia and organ donation in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Date posted: 2016-04-12

UK health service may harvest organs from babies with lethal defects

The UK's National Health Service is to encourage pregnant women whose children have a fatal birth defect to bring them to term so that their organs can be harvested.

Date posted: 2016-03-20

Controversial report to support legalisation of surrogacy in Europe

With a range of inconsistent statutes amongst member states, surrogacy is becoming a political football in Europe. Accusations of conflict of interest are being raised in the lead-up to a debate next week in a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Date posted: 2016-03-20

Nurse ignites debate over euthanasia in Portugal

The head of Portugal's national nurses' association has blown the whistle on covert euthanasia in public hospitals. Ana Rita Cavaco told a radio program that she personally had heard doctors discussing the topic.

Date posted: 2016-03-18

Harvard's dark past as the "brain trust" of American eugenics

Harvard University is the richest, most famous and oldest university in the US - and it won the Harvard-Yale game last year 38-19. But one distinction which it would rather forget is that it was the "brain trust" of American eugenics.

Date posted: 2016-03-17

Is pornography a public health crisis?

The evidence is piling up. According to a report in The Economist, there are possibly 700 to 800 million individual porn pages, 60 percent of them in the US. A portal for pornography, PornHub, claims that it had nearly 80 billion video viewings in 2014 and more than 18 billion visits. It's obvious that we live in a pornography-saturated culture.

Date posted: 2016-03-03

Celebrating 15 years of Dutch euthanasia

Beginning today, the Dutch right-to-die association NVVE is celebrating Euthanasia Week with a selection of documentary films and youth outreach.

Date posted: 2016-02-28

A peek behind Belgium's euthanasia curtain

Another euthanasia scandal in Belgium. Two sisters have complained on a television program, Terzake, about the euthanasia of their sister. Tine Nys was 38 at the time and had broken up with her live-in boyfriend. On Christmas Eve 2009 she announced that she was going to be euthanased.

Date posted: 2016-02-28

Another euthanasia scandal in Belgium

Another euthanasia scandal in Belgium. Two sisters have complained on a television program, Terzake, about the euthanasia of their sister in April 2010.

Date posted: 2016-02-28

The wrong solution to Zika-caused microcephaly

Activists are trying to spook governments into allowing abortion. Don't do it, says a woman with the condition.

Date posted: 2016-02-06

The dark past of anonymous sperm donation

Few of the essentials have changed since the first recorded case in 1884.

Date posted: 2016-02-05

The dark past of progressive eugenics

The dark history of government-sponsored eugenics before World War II has largely been forgotten, although it is well documented.

Date posted: 2016-02-05

First euthanasia case in Quebec

At least one person and perhaps three have been euthanased in Quebec since the Canadian province's legislation went into effect in December.

Date posted: 2016-02-05

Half million at risk of female genital mutilation in US, says report

US government statistics show that more than half a million girls and women are at risk of female genital mutilation or its consequences in the United States. This figure has tripled over the last 25 years as a result of increased migration from countries where FGM is common.

Date posted: 2016-02-05

JAMA debates assisted suicide

The latest issue of JAMA showcases the views of leading American doctors and lawyers on physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The theme is captured by the headline above one of the articles: "Physician-Assisted Dying: Turning Point?"

Date posted: 2016-02-05

Upsetting the balance of nature

A British report on the irrelevance of "naturalness" could have far-reaching consequences.

Date posted: 2016-02-05

UK on verge of editing genome of human embryos

Scientists in the UK could begin genetically engineering human embryos as early as March, if the fertility regulator approves plans by researchers at the new Francis Crick Institute in London.

Date posted: 2016-01-31

Defending Catholic views on contraception

Although, with more than a billion members, the Catholic Church has immense influence on bioethical practice, its positions are rejected by many bioethical theorists. None is more disputed, even ridiculed, than its condemnation of contraception. However, this stand does have thoughtful defenders.

Date posted: 2016-01-31

Making eugenics fun in Belgium

Waffles, beer, chocolate and euthanasia: Belgium is famous for all of them. Will do-it-yourself eugenics be added to the list?

Date posted: 2016-01-30

ISIS has authorised forced organ removals of 'apostates'

Persistent rumours about organ trafficking by the Islamic State have some basis in fact.

Date posted: 2016-01-18

Demented patients can be euthanized in Netherlands

The Netherlands health ministry has revised its guidelines to allow severely demented patients to be euthanized. However, an advance directive which was made when the patient was lucid is required.

Date posted: 2016-01-18

Gay Israeli couple brings home wrong baby from Nepal

A stark reminder of the hazards of IVF and surrogacy.

Date posted: 2016-01-18

Hammering out the details in Canada's new euthanasia regime

Last February Canada's Supreme Court declared that denying patients access to assisted suicide and euthanasia is a violation of their human rights. The federal, provincial and territory governments were given a year - until February 6, 2016 - to enact legislation consistent with its decision.

Date posted: 2016-01-13

The mechanic who transitioned to a 6-year-old girl

Human interest stories are like earthquakes. Readers love earthquakes, but they get bored with the small ones that flatten a single city. Editors need devastated provinces and tsunamis up to wind up their interest. So the lives of transgender people are the gift that keeps on giving for tabloids. Readers are always interested and the stories keep getting weirder and weirder.

Date posted: 2016-01-10

Rubbery statistics

"All Of Us" is an education pack about homosexuality and transexuality for teachers of Australian children in Years 7 and 8. Launched last month, it is supposed to help students be aware of bullying and discrimination and to affirm the identities of their LGBT classmates.

Date posted: 2015-12-27

Chinese scientists could clone humans

Cloning has been off the radar for several years. But, according to a report from Agence France-Presse, it's back on the boil in China.

Date posted: 2015-12-26

Summit fails to ban genetic engineering of human embryos

Gene-editing with the four-year-old CRISPR technique is already so promising that a meeting of American, British and Chinese scientists was held in Washington this week to discuss how it should be regulated.

Date posted: 2015-12-26

IVF booming in China

China's decision to abolish the one-child policy made many couples happy - and many IVF clinics. Business is booming, as many couples are eager to ensure that they have a boy. Chinese women marry at around 28, so many will have trouble conceiving a second child if they wait until they are 35 or so.

Date posted: 2015-12-26

Behind Australia's safe schools campaign

Do parents really know what their children will be taught about the LGBT universe?

Date posted: 2015-12-22

The underground Dutch system for do-it-yourself euthanasia

The leading Dutch right-to-die society is seeking talks with the Dutch medical association (KNMG) for approval of a "peaceful pill" which will allow its members to kill themselves without the help of a doctor.

Date posted: 2015-12-04

Surrogacy business shifts to Cambodia

The international market for surrogacy is proving to be very resilient in the face of legal and social disruption. Now that India, Nepal and Thailand have banned international clients from using local surrogates, clinics and brokers are shifting their business to Cambodia.

Date posted: 2015-11-18

Silicon Valley becomes a bioethical testing ground

Silicon Valley start-up 23andMe, as well as internet giants Google, Facebook and Apple, are competing to create databases which can be made available to medical researchers.

Date posted: 2015-11-18

Doctor still knows best

Supporters of euthanasia promised Belgians emancipation from medical paternalism and "therapeutic obstinacy". But after reading Wim Distelmans' explanation of their law, it's apparent that Doctor still knows best. The only thing that has changed is that Doctor is carrying a syringe filled with a lethal drug.

Date posted: 2015-11-18

Not with a bang but a whimper

What ever happened to the stem cell wars?

Date posted: 2015-11-18

Australia's 'Dr Death' forced to stop promoting suicide

The world's foremost promoter of assisted suicide and euthanasia, Australia's Dr Philip Nitschke, has agreed to cease his advocacy in exchange for retaining his medical registration.

Date posted: 2015-11-17

Transsexuals trash a feminist icon

You know that we have come to the end of an era when a bra-burning torchbearer for the sexual revolution is being vilified as a misogynist.

Date posted: 2015-11-15

What do the statistics say about transgender mental health?

Too often it is glibly asserted that troubled youths can deal with their psychological conflicts by transitioning to a different gender. They are either deceiving themselves or being deceived. The facts are there for anyone, especially those considering sexual reassignment surgery, to see: for many people life as a transgender is full of psychological pain.

Date posted: 2015-11-05

Celibate mothers carry forward the sexual revolution

There are women who want a child but no intimacy and no love.

Date posted: 2015-10-18

Go west, old man! Go west!

Ten percent of Americans now have access to assisted suicide after Jerry Brown, governor of California, approved Assembly Bill 15.

Date posted: 2015-10-18

The British virgins who have IVF babies

A steady trickle of women seeking IVF in Britain are single women who have never had sexual intercourse.

Date posted: 2015-10-16

Fears of suicide contagion after victory in California

Will California's new assisted suicide law actually result in fewer people committing suicide as its supporters have promised?

Date posted: 2015-10-16

Assisted suicide now legal in California

Ten percent of Americans now have access to assisted suicide after Jerry Brown, governor of California, approved Assembly Bill 15 on October 5.

Date posted: 2015-10-16

UN panel calls for moratorium on editing human genome

Process raises serious concerns, especially if changes can be inherited.

Date posted: 2015-10-16

Mexican politician suggests lethal injections for the homeless

Olga Gutierrez Machorro, a councillor in the local government of Tecamachalco, not far from Mexico City, has suggested that homeless beggars should be put down with a lethal injection to keep them off the streets.

Date posted: 2015-10-16

UK transgender woman wants to be both father and mother

Another dispatch from the Wild West of assisted reproductive technology. The third place contestant in the UK's first Miss Transgender beauty competition wants to be the first Briton to be both father and mother of a child.

Date posted: 2015-10-16

Is it ethical to investigate the genetic component of IQ?

With the advent of new genomic sequencing technologies, researchers around the world are working to identify genetic variants that help explain differences in intelligence. Can such findings be used to improve education for all, as some scientists believe?

Date posted: 2015-10-15

An uphill battle for transhumanists

Notwithstanding a wide range of approaches, the ultimate goal of all transhumanists is the indefinite extension of life. But according to Steve Fuller, a leading transhumanist theorist, it is an uphill battle to convince the public that this is possible or even desirable.

Date posted: 2015-10-15

Swept under the carpet

Australian research from the 1990s has emerged as key evidence in the debate about same-sex parenting. The constant refrain from supporters has been that there is no difference in outcomes for children in traditional marriages or same-sex couples. This is simply not true.

Date posted: 2015-10-15

Planned Parenthood still caught in headlights

Once again Planned Parenthood entered the US political debate. On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Defund Planned Parenthood Act by a vote of 241-187 which imposes a one-year moratorium on federal funding in order to make a thorough investigation of its practices.

Date posted: 2015-10-14

Stem cell researchers reopen embryo experimentation debate

In April Chinese scientists revealed that they had used Crispr, the new genetic engineering tool, to edit the genomes of surplus embryos from IVF clinics. Although none of the embryos were viable, the news sent a tsunami of excitement through the stem cell research community.

Date posted: 2015-10-13

Nearly 2/3 of psychology papers cannot be trusted

Nearly two-thirds of all psychology research should be distrusted because it cannot be replicated, according to a troubling paper in Science

Date posted: 2015-09-22

US bioethics group calls for cloning ban

The Council, whose co-chair is Robert P. George, of Princeton University, has just published its extended moral and medical arguments against human cloning in the journal The New Atlantis. It argues that "If research cloning is not stopped now, we face the prospect of the mass farming of human embryos and fetuses, and the transformation of the noble enterprise of biomedical research into a grotesque system of exploitation and death."

Date posted: 2015-09-21

A look at the risks of egg donation

"Maggie's Story" is the fourth in a series of videos about "eggsploitation", the dark side of egg donation. Maggie was a 19-year-old altruistic donor who donated eggs 10 times, even though the recommended limit is six.

Date posted: 2015-09-05

Why Dutch doctors are reporting fewer euthanised infants

Doctors in the Netherlands are permitted to give infants under 1 year a lethal injection if it has a low life expectancy and is suffering.

Date posted: 2015-09-05

'Pink Viagra': Helping women? Or marketing a disease?

It is easier to sell a drug than to heal broken relationships and dysfunctional personalities. Like so many other technologies, Addyi is being used as a chemical fix for a human problem.

Date posted: 2015-09-05

FDA approves "pink Viagra" for women

Nearly 20 years after approving Viagra, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug for enhancing female libido. Approval was announced on Tuesday and on Thursday Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the small company which had ushered it through the regulatory process, was sold for US$1 billion in cash to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, the largest public company in Canada.

Date posted: 2015-09-05

Planned Parenthood in media crisis

Much to its chagrin, Planned Parenthood is still in the headlines of American newspapers over allegations that it is profiting from the sale of foetal tissue.

Date posted: 2015-09-05

Mixed signals from Netherlands and Belgium about euthanasia

There is good news and bad news about euthanasia from the Netherlands and Belgium in JAMA Internal Medicine this week. But which is which depends on which side of the fence you sit.

Date posted: 2015-08-20

Progressive US bioethicist warns of euthanasia slippery slope

"Of all the arguments against voluntary euthanasia, the most influential is the 'slippery slope': once we allow doctors to kill patients, we will not be able to limit the killing to those who want to die. There is no evidence for this claim." So wrote Professor Peter Singer in an article in 2009.

Date posted: 2015-08-20

Where is Belgian euthanasia headed, asks The New Yorker

A country where more and more people are asking to be killed.

Date posted: 2015-07-31

Planning for a world with LGBT bioethics

With same-sex marriage and the transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn Jenner in the world headlines, it's time to ask what LGBT bioethics would look like. Timothy Murphy, of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, foreshadows some of the major themes in the journal Bioethics.

Date posted: 2015-07-14

We, too, need a #NOlostgeneration campaign

What lies beyond the bizarre expansion of children's rights to euthanasia and sex change surgery? The death toll in Syria continues to rise. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights about 231,000 people have died since war broke out in 2011. Of these, 69,500 were civilians, including 11,500 children and 7,500 women. It must be one of the first wars in which children are suffering more than adults.

Date posted: 2015-07-14

Belgian euthanasia under fire again

Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Rafael Cohen-Almagor, an Israeli professor of politics at the University of Hull, says that Belgians should be alarmed by the deliberate shortening of lives of some patients without their explicit voluntary request.

Date posted: 2015-07-12

What lies ahead for marriage in Ireland?

Ireland has written a social suicide note and we grieve for her. More than half the Irish have voted for homosexual marriage, seduced by celebrities to violate something they once held sacred: the life between mother, father and child. From today, the Irish Constitution assumes a mother does not matter to a baby, and a father is irrelevant to his son. That is madness.

Date posted: 2015-06-14

Canadian bioethicist questions value of Down syndrome detection

Do we really need ever-more accurate tests to detect Down syndrome in unborn children?

Date posted: 2015-06-14

Leading stem cell surgeon accused of 'scientific misconduct'

Italian celebrity surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who created artificial windpipes with cadaver-derived scaffolding and stem cells, has been found guilty of scientific misconduct by an investigator from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

Date posted: 2015-06-14

Political fruit flies

So many politicians have evolved so quickly on same-sex marriage that it has become one of the greatest-ever experiments in Darwinian selection.

Date posted: 2015-06-14

Israel evacuates babies of surrogate mothers from devastated Nepal

Nepal's devastating earthquakes in recent weeks have brought to light its little-known surrogacy industry.

Date posted: 2015-06-04

Rohingyas battle population control

Somewhere between 6,000 and 20,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are drifting in the Andaman Sea while neighbouring countries take turns to deny them entry.

Date posted: 2015-06-04

If 'gay is good', is opposing it bad?

Many people with a religious outlook on life feel threatened by the advance of same-sex marriage.

Date posted: 2015-06-04

Same-sex marriage and the ethics of harm

What else will change if same-sex marriage is legalized? This is the question which voters in the United States and Ireland should be asking themselves.

Date posted: 2015-05-31

Outsourcing embryos in India

A recent Vice documentary for HBO, Outsourcing Embryos, explored the well-trodden path to shady surrogacy practices in India.

Date posted: 2015-05-31

From friends of the Court: forgotten voices

The institution of man-woman marriage is not an insult; it is an ensign, beckoning to anyone - regardless of sexual orientation - that the union of a man and a woman is uniquely significant because it is endowed with procreative power and complementary capacity.

Date posted: 2015-04-28

Born to be bad?

The idea that criminal behaviour is in our genes may be making a come-back.

Date posted: 2015-04-28

Health workers faces dual loyalty in US jails

Guantanamo Bay is not the only place where American health workers' ethics clash with the need for security. This is also the case in American jails, according to a two-year study of New York's Rikers Island jail complex published in Harvard's Health and Human Rights Journal.

Date posted: 2015-04-22

WHO alarmed by C-section rise

There is no evidence that a Caesarean section rate of more than 10% saves the lives of mothers or babies, says the World Health Organization. In a new statement it recommends that C-sections be performed based only on the needs of the patient, rather than focusing on target rates.

Date posted: 2015-04-22

A fresh voice for marriage

Is fighting for traditional marriage and against same-sex marriage worthwhile? Ryan T. Anderson, a 33-year-old fellow at the Heritage Foundation, thinks so and is crisscrossing the US to persuade people that they are not irrational or homophobic if they think that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.

Date posted: 2015-04-22

Down syndrome kids need support after they're born - but also before

People with Down syndrome, on an equal basis with other people, must be able to enjoy full and equal rights, both as children and adults with 'opportunities' and 'choices'. What's odd about this complaint is that the biggest discrimination is hardly mentioned - the right to participate in life, period.

Date posted: 2015-04-07

US think tank publishes report on risks of assisted suicide

Allowing physician-assisted suicide would be a grave mistake for four reasons.

Date posted: 2015-04-07

Gray Lady gives two cheers for euthanasia

The New York Times is edging to a cautious endorsement of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Date posted: 2015-04-07

50 or 60 Belgian patients euthanased annually for psychiatric reasons

Dr Wim Distelmans explains their misery.

Date posted: 2015-04-07

Dolce & Gabbana spark internet frenzy over IVF

Gay icons war over "synthetic children".

Date posted: 2015-04-07

Time to take another look at the Pill

If there is one request by patients which is spurned by all doctors, without any fear of being labelled paternalistic, it is muscle-bound young men asking for performance-enhancing steroids. Extensive research confirms that anabolic steroids damage the liver and the heart, among other problems. So, if widespread steroid use is discouraged for men, why haven't the neurological effects on women of the steroid-based contraceptive pill been studied just as thoroughly?

Date posted: 2015-04-07

Ebola's wake-up call

Is there a silver lining to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa which has claimed nearly 10,000 lives over the past year?

Date posted: 2015-04-07

International drive to stop organ trafficking

Fourteen European nations have signed the first international treaty on organ trafficking.

Date posted: 2015-04-05

Swiss assisted suicide group notches up 34% rise in deaths

Exit, the assisted suicide group for German-speakers in Switzerland, recorded a 27% increase in deaths last year, rising from 459 in 2013 to 583. Membership grew by 20% to 86,000.

Date posted: 2015-04-05

After same-sex marriage, then what?

March 29 marked the first anniversary of the legal same-sex marriage in England and Wales. Look around, say the twitterati - no plagues of locusts and frogs have blighted the land; no fire and brimstone have rained down upon Westminster; no earthquake has swallowed up Sir Elton. All is well.

Date posted: 2015-04-05

Nitschke's campaign for re-registration falters

Australian euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke is sailing against the wind in his campaign to regain registration as a medical doctor.

Date posted: 2015-04-05

Brittany Maynard speaks from grave to California senators

America's leading assisted suicide lobby group, Compassion & Choices, has scored another public relations coup with the release of a third Brittany Maynard video

Date posted: 2015-04-05

New relationships; new names

Gender confusion and reproductive technology are muddling the English language. We need to take action.

Date posted: 2015-03-22

More research needed on the Pill-brain nexus

Why don't we know more about the neurological effects of the contraceptive Pill?

Date posted: 2015-03-22

Does religion have a role in bioethics?

The notion that religious convictions have no place in medicine or bioethics is widespread and growing.

Date posted: 2015-03-22

Irish IVF industry slams donor disclosure proposals

The Irish Fertility Society has called upon the Oireachtas to scupper new assisted reproduction regulations.

Date posted: 2015-03-22

IVF births in US hit 1.5%

More than 1.5% of the babies born in the United States in 2013 began life in a Petri dish.

Date posted: 2015-03-22

Marriage equality? What about equality for kids?

The 37th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras last Saturday was one of the best-publicised events in Sydney's social calendar. About 10,000 people participated, with 150 floats chugging through the gay district. An estimated 200,000 watched the spectacle, which one disillusioned gay journalist described as "a sweaty orgy of glitter-coated body parts".

Date posted: 2015-03-22

Disgraced researcher Hwang Woo-suk teams up with US scientist

One of the world's leading stem cell scientists has entered a partnership with the disgraced Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk to pursue cloning research in China, Science reports.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

Paternity presumption threatens same-sex marriage

Despite the advance of same-sex marriage in the US, it may be some time before the law is scrubbed clean of the presumption that a male/female relationship constitutes a family.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

Professionalise surrogacy, say New Zealand academics

Two New Zealand academics have proposed that surrogacy become a profession like nursing or teaching which is fully integrated into the health system.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

Colombia may finally legalise euthanasia

The assisted suicide of American woman Brittany Maynard on November 1 may have tipped Colombia into legalising euthanasia.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

Caution: language change ahead

A group of right-to-die activists is searching for a new word for suicide by conducting an internet poll. They've got their work cut out for them.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

How will conscientious objectors fare in Canada?

Conscientious objection to "physician-assisted dying" is shaping up as a major issue among doctors in Canada after last week's Supreme Court ruling which legalised it.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

Bioethicists push "3-parent embryos" in US

After "three-parent embryos" were legalised in Britain last week, some American bioethicists immediately took to the media to promote the technique.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

Searching for a new word for suicide

A group of right-to-die activists is searching for a new word for suicide by conducting an internet survey.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

Israeli defence forces under fire for abuses during Gaza War

Independent investigators commissioned by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel have concluded last year's war in Gaza involved "several serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law" by the Israeli Army, including attacks on healthcare workers and facilities.

Date posted: 2015-03-01

The "no difference" theory is dead

A US study finds that opposite-sex parents are better than same-sex parents. Wait for the fireworks.

Date posted: 2015-02-23

US public and scientists see world through different glasses

Despite similar views about the overall place of science in America, the general public and scientists often see science-related issues through a different lens, according to a new pair of surveys by the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Date posted: 2015-02-23

How scientists won the 3-parent IVF battle

After years of debate, the British House of Commons approved the creation of embryos with genetic material from two women and one man by a vote of 382 to 128. The House of Lords will probably pass the bill, which amends the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, later this year.

Date posted: 2015-02-23

Canada's supreme court strikes down ban on assisted suicide

In a landmark decision the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday that prohibiting assisted suicide is unconstitutional and a violation of the country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada is now the first country outside Europe to legalize assisted suicide.

Date posted: 2015-02-23

Sex-selective abortion: I'm OK with that, says UK academic

Sex-selective abortion is almost universally reviled - by opponents of abortion because it kills an unborn child and by feminists because it entrenches discriminatory attitudes towards women. However, it has its defenders, even in the Western world.

Date posted: 2015-02-06

FGM convictions: Egypt 1, England 0

For the first time ever, an Egyptian doctor has been convicted of performing female genital mutilation.

Date posted: 2015-02-06

No longer anonymous in Germany

The days of anonymous sperm donation are over in Germany.

Date posted: 2015-02-06

Torture: sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, say bioethicists

Torture is an issue on which the public might expect bioethicists to be moral absolutists.

Date posted: 2015-02-06

Remembering Auschwitz

70 years ago today, the most notorious Nazi death camp was liberated by the Red Army.

Date posted: 2015-02-06

French parliament begins debate on euthanasia

The French parliament opened a long-awaited debate on euthanasia this week.

Date posted: 2015-02-06

The torture-abortion nexus

Why do philosophers who defend abortion also defend torture?

Date posted: 2015-02-05

Is more blasphemy the best response?

Awful as the Paris massacre is, does it really mean that we ought to blaspheme more?

Date posted: 2015-02-05

Dutch euthanasia clinic has knuckles rapped over tinnitus death

A Dutch end-of-life clinic has been reprimanded for the third time in a year for moving the goal posts for euthanasia.

Date posted: 2015-02-05

UK scientists call for debate on designer babies

Novel techniques of editing the genome have inspired some British scientists to call for a public debate on designer babies.

Date posted: 2015-02-05

"Virginity tests" unethical, says South African physician

While virginity tests for unmarried women have been universally regarded as unethical in Western countries, the practice is spreading in immigrant communities.

Date posted: 2015-02-05

A new kind of diplomacy

Artificial insemination has become part of international diplomacy

Date posted: 2015-02-05

Near enough is not good enoug

The phrase "not completely brain dead", like "not completely pregnant", has a Monty Python-esque ring to it. But it is the way the Daily Mail described an alarming organ transplant incident in the German city of Bremen.

Date posted: 2015-02-05

When do we become autonomous?

When a 17-year-old rejects chemotherapy - with her mother's support - the state should step in.

Date posted: 2015-02-05

Blasphemy is an assault on our supreme good

When a 17-year-old rejects chemotherapy - with her mother's support - the state should step in.

Date posted: 2015-02-05

No contraception, no govt handouts, says Aussie politician

A tragic murder in the Australian state of Queensland has provoked a controversial solution by a former Federal government minister: no contraception, no dole.

Date posted: 2015-02-05

Nitschke loses legal battle to practice as a doctor

Australian euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke remains deregistered after a ruling that his activities would undermine public confidence in the medical profession and posed a serious risk to public safety. Nitschke says that he will appeal the decision by the Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal.

Date posted: 2015-02-05

What did Udo Schuklenk really say about neonatal euthanasia?

The idea of using patients as organ donors if they request assisted suicide or euthanasia seems to be catching on. This is reasonably common in Belgium and in the Netherlands an official protocol is being drawn up to regulate such cases.

Date posted: 2015-01-11

Book closes on stem cell saga

Yet another stem cell dream has been shattered for ever. At a news conference yesterday, officials at Japan's prestigious RIKEN Institute announced that attempts to replicate STAP cells, or stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cells, are over.

Date posted: 2015-01-11

The Pessimist: Editor of leading bioethics journal mourns "failure" of bioethics

"Both bioethics and medical ethics together have, in many ways, failed as fields," laments the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Oxford's Julian Savulescu. His diagnosis is that an illogical moralism dominates nearly all bioethical issues and that debates are conducted in philosophical darkness.

Date posted: 2015-01-11

The Optimist: I have lived in a golden age, says US bioethicist

Arthur Caplan's canter through the history of bioethics in a special 40th anniversary issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics is decidedly upbeat.

Date posted: 2015-01-11

Remembering the dark story of Peru's population control campaign

I just stumbled across a documentary about the 300,000 women and 22,000 men forcibly or deceitfully sterilised by population control officials in the government of President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s.

Date posted: 2015-01-11

When transgender men have children

Transgender studies is a field which comes up with many surprises. An article in this month's issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology says that since most transgender men desire to have children, more attention should be paid to those who actually bear their own.

Date posted: 2015-01-11

No love, no marriage, just the baby carriage

You've heard of hook-up sites like match.com for people who just want sex, but not marriage and kids. But you may not have heard of sites like Modamily.com, PollenTree.com and Familybydesign.com for people who just want kids, but not marriage and sex.

Date posted: 2015-01-11

Psychologists criticised in CIA torture report

Two psychologists contracted by the CIA to create enhanced interrogation techniques for al-Qaeda detainees have come under fire for violating human rights and medical ethics

Date posted: 2015-01-11

Why not pay commercial providers to assist suicides?

Assisted suicide is an idea which keeps evolving in unpredictable ways. Who could have foreseen the development of groups of non-doctors which help hundreds of people to die in Switzerland? They are non-profits and charge only for membership and handling fees. But what if companies saw a commercial opportunity in the market for ending one's life?

Date posted: 2014-12-12

Why do we wildly over-estimate the proportion of gays and lesbians?

Why do people in the United States (and probably other Western countries, as well) over-estimate the proportion of gays and lesbians in the population?

Date posted: 2014-12-12

Ethics will always play catch-up in the war on terror

A deeply utilitarian mindset pervades US foreign policy.

Date posted: 2014-12-12

Should severely disabled infants be euthanased?

Udo Schuklenk, of Queen's University, in Canada, the co-editor of the journal Bioethics, and Gilbert Meilaender, of Valparaiso University, in Indiana, discuss the ethics of, in Schuklenk's words, "what would amount to postnatal abortion".

Date posted: 2014-12-11

Super surgeon who uses stem cells accused of unethical conduct

Shades of Hwang Woo-suk

Date posted: 2014-12-11

Have Chinese scientists discovered a "singleton gene"?

More evidence that articles about genetic determinism are positively correlated with provocative headlines.

Date posted: 2014-12-11

Dutch doctors want to harvest organs of euthanased patients

Doctors in the Netherlands are developing a protocol which will increase the number of organs from people who request euthanasia.

Date posted: 2014-12-11

Should we pay commercial providers to assist suicides?

Assisted suicide is an idea which keeps evolving

Date posted: 2014-12-11

UK gay couple acquires 3 kids from 3 surrogates simultaneously

A gay couple in Britain made history recently when all three of their surrogate mothers presented them with babies within seven months of each other. Daryl Lee, 41, and Luke Harris, 50, had been in a civil partnership for years and had always dreamed of having a family.

Date posted: 2014-12-10

Do restrictive abortion laws kill women?

Do more women will die if they are forced to resort to underground abortion mills.

Date posted: 2014-12-10

US stem cell expert questions UK plans for 3-parent embryos

The British Parliament will begin debating whether to legalise a controversial technique known to opponents as "3-parent embryos" or "3-parent babies" or, to its supporters as "mitochondrial transfer".

Date posted: 2014-12-10

What do we know about Brittany Maynard's death?

Did Brittany Maynard die freely? This is the question that must be asked after the attractive 29-year-old woman with a brain tumour announced earlier in the week that she would probably postpone the assisted suicide she had scheduled for Saturday, November 1.

Date posted: 2014-12-10

Over-50s are major clients of Indian IVF

In New York IVF clinics, older clients are 40; in India, they are 60 or even 70.

Date posted: 2014-11-19

Who's the bigot now?

Increasingly it seems that the touchstone of success for supporters of same-sex marriage is shifting from accommodation and acceptance to unconditional surrender. Disagreement and criticism will not be tolerated.

Date posted: 2014-11-19

Should all Ebola volunteers be quarantined?

Hundreds of foreign healthcare workers have been shuttling in and out of Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

Date posted: 2014-10-26

British right-to-die campaigner starves herself to death

A leading right-to-die campaigner in Britain has starved herself to death. Jean Davies, 86, passed away on October 1, five weeks after she stopped taking food and two weeks after she stopped taking water. She did not have a terminal illness.

Date posted: 2014-10-26

Towards the Next Big Thing

Since there always is a Next Big Thing, what is the Next Big Thing after the legalisation of same-sex marriage? Is it legalising sado-masochism? Is it recognising paedophilia as a genetic disability?

Date posted: 2014-10-26

The Nobel Peace Prize they'll never give

Surrogacy will be one of our biggest human rights challenges. But same-sex parenting boosters will veto awards to those who fight it.

Date posted: 2014-10-26

Gene of the week: paedophilia

Add paedophilia to the growing list of genetically-determined attractions, preferences and predispositions. In a New York Times op-ed, a law professor from Rutgers University contends that paedophilia is not a matter of choice.

Date posted: 2014-10-26

15% rise in Dutch euthanasia deaths

Euthanasia cases in the Netherlands increased 15% in 2013 compared to 2012, according to the latest official statistics.

Date posted: 2014-10-26

Are the kids really all right?

Schumm's study suggests that definitive proof of "no difference" thesis is still a long way off. If only the judges would listen.

Date posted: 2014-10-08

Belgium grants prisoner's request for euthanasia

A man serving a life sentence for rape and murder has been allowed by a Belgian court to undergo euthanasia.

Date posted: 2014-09-24

Ground shifts in UK debate over "three-parent embryos"

Is UK's battle over "three-parent embryos", as it is called in the media, or mitochondrial transfer, as it is called in the journals, becoming more transparent?

Date posted: 2014-09-24

Let's chill: New York's egg freezing party

Commercialisation of IVF is crossing new frontiers in New York with "egg freezing parties" for career women who want to keep their options open. A company called EggBanxx will retrieve and store eggs - for about US$7,000 to $8000 per cycle.

Date posted: 2014-09-14

More surrogacy abandonment stories emerge

An Australian couple has copped a media bashing over their alleged abandonment of a Down syndrome twin born to a Thai surrogate mother. But with the enormous publicity given to the case, similar cases are beginning to emerge elsewhere.

Date posted: 2014-09-14

Is fear of nursing homes a reason for Dutch euthanasia?

A Dutch euthanasia clinic is being investigated for helping an elderly woman to die because she did not want to live in a nursing home.

Date posted: 2014-09-14

The urgency of peace

Peace between Israel and Hamas must be founded on justice, not merely a cessation of hostilities.

Date posted: 2014-09-14

A third way between gays and bigots

A new documentary presents a strong case for the Catholic stand on homosexuality

Date posted: 2014-09-14

Latin lessons

What a great Roman historian can teach us about IVF and egg freezing.

Date posted: 2014-09-14

British MP blasts "three-parent embryos"

A British politician has blasted proposals for "three-parent embryos".

Date posted: 2014-09-14

The ethics of transgender fertility

This month's issue of LGBT Health contains a fascinating interview with two Boston fertility specialists who cater for gays and lesbians who want to become parents.

Date posted: 2014-09-14

Belgium's euthanasia law challenged

A Belgian man is challenging his country's euthanasia law in the European Court of Human Rights.

Date posted: 2014-09-14

Thailand moves to ban surrogacy

The new Thai military government is moving swiftly to crush the lucrative surrogacy industry.

Date posted: 2014-08-25

Australia could recognise multiple parents

Australian law could be revised to allow more than two parents, if recommendations in a major report are accepted by the government. A "Report On Parentage And The Family Law Act", was released this week.

Date posted: 2014-08-25

The world of Chinese surrogacy

Although it is technically illegal, there are many loopholes and the country now has an estimated 1,000 surrogate mother brokers. The Times interviews the CEO of Baby Plan Medical Technology Company who says that his business has four branches and a track record of 300 babies.

Date posted: 2014-08-25

Three ways to happiness

On the Christian side, there's often more than a smidgen of repugnant smugness in rejection of the gay lifestyle. Summed up in the slogan "pray away the gay", Christian moral teaching is prescribed by some pastors and parents as if it were aspirin. Aspirin is no cure for wounded hearts.

Date posted: 2014-08-25

Goodbye, Mr Chips and gay marriage

A few months ago British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated all the gay couples who were about to tie the knot legally for the first time. "This weekend is an important moment for our country," he said. "It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth." How did we get Here from There? How did a slightly prudish Britain become the Britain of same-sex marriage?

Date posted: 2014-08-25

Warsaw hospital head sacked for refusing to refer for abortion

The director of a hospital in Warsaw has been dismissed because he refused to refer a woman for an abortion. The case has become a cause celebre in Poland, leading to protests from the Catholic clergy and internet petitions.

Date posted: 2014-08-25

Have some American homeless become lab rats?

The web magazine Medium features a searing examination of the US clinical trials industry. The headline of the first part, written by bioethicist Carl Elliott, says it all: "The Best-Selling, Billion-Dollar Pills Tested on Homeless People: How the destitute and the mentally ill are being used as human lab rats".

Date posted: 2014-08-25

Thailand cracks down on surrogacy

An Australian couple who commissioned a surrogate mother in rural Thailand abandoned a Down syndrome twin and left him with his impoverished mother, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Date posted: 2014-08-25

Gender gaps in college linked to divorce rates

While research has told us that the prevalence of divorce in our society can account for the gender gap within higher education, a recent article in The Huffington Post sheds more light on what the exact causal relation might be. It may not just be the possibility of divorce, itself, that has such an impact on both female and male adolescents, but rather the lack of father involvement in the lives of male children.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

Euthanasia could be option for poor, says Lithuanian health minister

Euthanasia might be needed for poor people who cannot access palliative care, the new Lithuanian Health Minister has suggested. Rimante Salaseviciute was sworn earlier this month, but already she has made waves by backing an open discussion of the legalisation of euthanasia.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

UK assisted dying bill: the case for

A record number of Lords spoke, more than 130, in a debate which lasted 10 hours. However, this did not resolve the issue. After passing a second reading, the bill passes to a Parliamentary committee which will scrutinise it and propose amendments.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

The IVF industry must go green

Free fertility treatment should be banned for those making lifestyle reproductive choices, such as sterilisation reversal or single motherhood for fertile women. And fertility clinics should be subject to carbon capping schemes, in a bid to help curb climate change, argues a theologian in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

Celebrity swimmer Ian Thorpe comes

In a tell-all interview, one of Australia's most famous athletes admits that he is gay. Is he?

Date posted: 2014-07-27

Stopping the panic over Britain's paedophiles

Britain is in the grip of a moral panic about child sex abuse. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has just announced two public inquiries into "these disgusting crimes" whose scope is incredible. It seems that her government is planning to trawl through all of public life to ferret out hidden paedophiles.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

BMJ backs assisted suicide

One of the world's leading medical journals has endorsed the legalisation of assisted suicide.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

Is a day of doom looming for bioethics?

Ragnarok is the day in Norse mythology when gods and men meet their doom. After three years of continuous winter, bloody battles and many natural disasters, the world will be flooded, and all but a few will die.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

Last act in stem cell research tragedy

The sorry saga of yet another flawed stem cell paper riddled with fraudulent data has come to an end. Nature has retracted a paper and a letter, both published in January, which claimed that physical perturbation of cells could create genetic effects. At the time the results were trumpeted on the front pages of newspapers around the world

Date posted: 2014-07-27

Court orders France to recognise surrogacy children

Surrogacy may be banned in France, but it must recognise children born to surrogate parents abroad, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

What are the issues in post-mortem sperm retrieval?

Smajdor makes two specific recommendations. First, that the rules for posthumous gamete donation be tightened. Second, that the discretionary authority of the UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, be rescinded so that it cannot permit the export of gametes obtained without consent.

Date posted: 2014-07-27

US polls send mixed signals on assisted suicide

Are demographic fears part of the reason for last month's results?

Date posted: 2014-07-01

Israel debates assisted suicide

A ministerial committee has approved a bill which would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to Israeli citizens with less than six months to live.

Date posted: 2014-07-01

Scottish rights groups back right to die for children

Taking their cue from Belgium, Scottish groups have tentatively backed voluntary euthanasia for children with terminal illnesses

Date posted: 2014-07-01

Will Joe Biden stop the tide of child "refugees"?

The flood of unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala is partly America's own doing.

Date posted: 2014-07-01

Understanding male same-sex attraction

This documentary from Family Watch International is a very helpful introduction to understanding male same-sex attraction. It argues that no one is "born gay" and that many people with unwanted same-sex attraction have been able to change.

Date posted: 2014-06-30

Is the UK too quick on the draw about 3-parent babies?

Two American bioethicists have questioned the haste with which the United Kingdom is seeking to legalise the creation of "three-parent babies".

Date posted: 2014-06-15

Quebec on verge of legalising euthanasia

Quebec is on the verge of legalising euthanasia. Despite the crushing defeat of the Parti Quebecois in the recent election, the governing Liberal Party and the other three major parties have taken the unusual step of backing a quick vote on the bill in the new parliamentary term.

Date posted: 2014-06-14

Japanese stem cell researcher agrees to retract one of her papers

Haruko Obokata reportedly has told co-authors on the paper on stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells that she was prepared to retract it.

Date posted: 2014-06-14

Five Belgians euthanased every day in 2013

The number of cases of euthanasia in Belgium in 2013 rose by 26.8% over the previous year. Five people died of euthanasia every day.

Date posted: 2014-06-14

Should doctors take part in executions?

It is unethical for American physicians to participate in executions, according to a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Date posted: 2014-06-14

Ohio man ordered not to father children

Are anti-procreation orders constitutional in the United States? A case in Ohio is working its way to the state Supreme Court.

Date posted: 2014-06-14

Nature backs mitochondrial transfer

The world's most prestigious science journal, Nature, has thrown its weight behind the legalisation of "three-parent embryos".

Date posted: 2014-06-14

British 9-year-olds to be prepped for sex change surgery

British children as young as nine are eligible to board the train for a sex reassignment surgery, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Date posted: 2014-06-14

New technique could lead to "risky eugenics", says IVF pioneer

Britain's leading fertility doctor, Lord Robert Winston, has warned that his recent research could open the door to "risky" eugenics programs.

Date posted: 2014-06-10

Quebec legalises euthanasia

Under the new law, an adult who is terminally ill, of sound mind, and in constant and unbearable physical and psychological pain may request a lethal injection. Quebec now joins the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg as the fourth jurisdiction in which euthanasia is legal. Assisted suicide is legal in across the border in Washington state and Oregon, but not euthanasia

Date posted: 2014-06-06

What is the real story behind Ireland's mass grave?

A media storm is gathering over the discovery of hundreds of infants buried at a Catholic home for unmarried mothers.

Date posted: 2014-06-06

US bioethics commission calls for ethics education in neuroscience

Calling for the integration of ethics into neuroscience, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues this week released the first of two volumes on the ethics of brain research.

Date posted: 2014-05-25

Couples fall victim to surrogate fraud

Increasingly surrogacy services offer rich pickings for con artists.

Date posted: 2014-05-25

Leading figure in Belgian euthanasia to tour Auschwitz

The head of Belgium's euthanasia oversight commission, Dr Wim Distelmans, will lead a study tour of Auschwitz in October. Since Dr Distelmans is also Belgium's leading promoter of euthanasia and its leading practitioner, the tour has already generated some criticism.

Date posted: 2014-05-25

Harvard's dance with the devil

If Satanists planned a Black Mass at your university, would you ban it?

Date posted: 2014-05-24

Austrian historians studying another informed consent debacle from the 50s

Another informed consent scandal from the 1950s: researchers deliberately infected hospitalised children with malaria.

Date posted: 2014-05-11

Controversy over cardiac stem cells could sink "heart failure cure"

More controversy over the therapeutic potential of stem cells.

Date posted: 2014-05-11

Japanese stem cell researcher denied appeal

The Icarus-like rise of Japanese stem cell research Haruko Obokata has ended with a gigantic splash. Ms Obokata was found guilty of scientific misconduct by Japan's RIKEN Institute after an article and a letter published in Nature were found to be supported by manipulated data.

Date posted: 2014-05-11

Are cracks appearing in Belgians' attitude on euthanasia?

A second official complaint has been filed against the chairman of the Belgium committee which regulates euthanasia for euthanasing a woman suffering from depression.

Date posted: 2014-05-11

IVF's tarnished halo

A horror story from Utah shows the crumbling ethical foundations of the assisted reproduction industry.

Date posted: 2014-05-10

Are philosophers sceptical of bioethics?

A junior bioethics scholar has vented her frustration about her job search in the bioethics.net blog. Dr Keisha Ray says that many philosophers do not even regards bioethics as a real discipline.

Date posted: 2014-05-09

Interest in embryonic stem cells revives

Interest in using stem cells from cloned human embryos has revived after success by scientists in the United States and Korea.

Date posted: 2014-05-09

Not your everyday, dull-as-dishwater paternity case

An investigation at the University of Utah is testing the presumption that IVF clinics are delivering babies who are the biological children of their clients. The story begins in 1992 with the birth of Annie Branum, the child of John and Pamela Branum. She was conceived with artificial insemination at a fertility clinic linked to the University of Utah.

Date posted: 2014-05-09

Botched execution in Oklahoma reveals chaotic state of death penalty

A botched execution in Oklahoma on Tuesday has revived the debate over the death penalty in the United States and raised hopes (or fears) that lethal injections have had their day. Convicted murderer Clayton Lockett thrashed on a gurney for 43 minutes before dying of a heart attack.

Date posted: 2014-05-09

Swiss doctor acquitted after assisted suicide

Changes could be afoot in Swiss legislation after a doctor was acquitted this week of violating regulations for assisted suicide.

Date posted: 2014-05-03

The bioethics of podiatry

Bunions might seem ethically uncomplicated, but the burgeoning field of aesthetic podiatry must eventually raise some questions about what constitutes medically necessary treatment.

Date posted: 2014-05-03

US bioethicists take Belgian child euthanasia to task

Three American bioethicists have criticised Belgium's new law permitting children with a terminal illness to choose euthanasia.

Date posted: 2014-05-03

Iran tries to reverse falling birth rates

The Iranian parliament is to consider banning vasectomies as a way of pushing up the country's below-replacement birth rate. On the table, too, is the possibility of restricting abortion and contraceptive services.

Date posted: 2014-05-03

Deputy blasts Russia's commercial surrogacy industry

A member of the Russian Duma (parliament) has called for commercial surrogacy to be banned. Russia is one of the few countries in the world where the practice is legal.

Date posted: 2014-05-03

Some Dutch pharmacists refusing to supply euthanasia drugs

Although euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, some Dutch pharmacists are refusing to supply the lethal drugs needed to carry it out.

Date posted: 2014-05-03

Belgium: accelerating down the slippery slope

Involuntary euthanasia is acceptable medical treatment, according to a recent official statement by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Although voluntary euthanasia is legal is Belgium under some circumstances, involuntary euthanasia is basically illegal.

Date posted: 2014-05-01

A deal with the devil

Why did American officials refuse to prosecute Japanese doctors who had committed horrendous crimes in World War II?

Date posted: 2014-04-18

Tearful apology from Obokata

The Japanese woman at the centre of the latest stem cell scandal, Haruko Obokata, apologised tearfully for her "carelessness, ignorance and immaturity" at a press conference this week.

Date posted: 2014-04-18

New service creates virtual babies for worried mothers

An American businesswoman and an Ivy League scientist have teamed up to create a sophisticated service for reducing genetic diseases for lesbian couples and single women.

Date posted: 2014-04-18

Belgian intensive care doctors back involuntary euthanasia

Involuntary euthanasia is acceptable medical treatment, according to a recent official statement by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Although voluntary euthanasia is legal is Belgium under some circumstances, involuntary euthanasia is basically illegal. But the Society wants to be able to euthanase patients who do not appear to have long to live.

Date posted: 2014-04-18

Stem cell debacle dj vu

Once again, a major advance in stem cell science has been tainted by allegations of fraud. A leading research centre in Japan, the RIKEN Institute, has apologised for "research misconduct" by a young scientist who had found an astonishing new method for producing pluripotent stem cells.

Date posted: 2014-04-18

The first harm is the biggest harm

Britain's first same-sex marriages will take place this coming weekend. In May Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish plan to exchange vows, making them spouses as well as parents to their two sons, Zachary and Elijah. Jubilant campaigners say that fears of an impending social calamity are nonsense.

Date posted: 2014-04-17

Whole genome sequencing for infants needs careful study

Should whole-genome sequencing be used in public-health programs which screen newborns for rare conditions? That question is likely to stir debate in coming years in many of the 60+ countries that provide newborn screening, as whole-genome sequencing (WGS) becomes increasingly affordable and reliable.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

"Therapeutic cloning" back on the boil

After a couple of years in hibernation, the notion of "therapeutic cloning" is once again in the headlines. The latest development comes from Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a Russian-educated researcher at Oregon Health and Science University.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Why are we condemning sperm donor anonymity, asks bioethicist

Donor conception is often shrouded in secrecy. At age 7, only about half of children know that they were conceived with donor eggs; the figure for donor sperm is only about one-quarter. Legislation forcing IVF clinics to give access to the identity of the donors is spreading.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Doubt mount about new stem cell paper

The world's leading science journal, Nature, may end up with egg on its face as complaints mount about a recent paper on a radical new method of creating pluripotent stem cells.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Assisted suicide is too dangerous in times of economic crisis, says disabled UK peer

Moves to legalise assisted suicide in Britain are a threat to the disabled during a time of economic hardship, says Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, a disabled peer.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Force-feeding continues at Guantanamo Bay

A US federal court recently declined to stop force-feeding of detainees at Guantnamo Bay. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to issue a preliminary injunction.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Analysis of legal assisted suicide in Switzerland

An extensive survey of assisted suicide in Switzerland between 2003 and 2008 has found that the most vulnerable people are women, people who live alone or people who are divorced. People who ask for assisted suicide tend to be wealthier and better educated.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Stop fretting about 3-parent embryos and get ready for "multiplex parenting"

The controversy over three-parent embryos could soon be old hat. Writing in one of the world's leading journals, one of Britain's best-known bioethicists has outlined a strategy for creating children with four or more genetic parents. He calls it "multiplex parenting".

Date posted: 2014-04-13

No white flag. Ever.

Too much is at stake to surrender in the fight against same-sex marriage.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Barcoding embryos

Barcoding embryos another version of the number tattooed on the forearm of the Polish shopkeeper. Embryos, children actually, are to be branded like cattle and assigned numbers instead of names. Loving parents give a gestating child a name, not a barcode. Despite all the promotional photos of glowing mums and gurgling babies, IVF is becoming a lot less like love and a lot more like manufacturing.

Date posted: 2014-04-13

Official complaint lodged against leading Belgian euthanasia doctor

After 11 years of participation in euthanasia, an official complaint has finally been lodged with the Belgian Medical Association against the leading practitioner in Belgium, Dr Wim Distelmans. In a three-page letter Tom Mortier and Dr Georges Casteur allege that Distelmans did not have the expertise to evaluate whether Mortier's mother, Godelieve De Troyer, was ready for voluntary euthanasia.

Date posted: 2014-03-01

US scientists were "accomplices after the fact" in Japanese doctors' war crimes

All of contemporary bioethics springs from the Nuremberg Doctors Trial in 1947. Seven Nazi doctors and officials were hanged and nine received severe prison sentences for performing experiments on an estimated 25,000 prisoners in concentration camps without their consent. Only about 1,200 died but many were maimed and psychologically scarred.

Date posted: 2014-03-01

Belgian lower house passes child euthanasia bill

A bill permitting euthanasia for children has passed the lower house of the Belgian Parliament by a vote of 86 to 44, with 12 abstentions. The parties gave their members a free vote on the controversial issue.

Date posted: 2014-03-01

FDA to study "three-parent embryos"

On February 25 and 26 the US Food and Drug Administration will discuss the possibility of legalising three-parent embryos - or, in scientific lingo, "oocyte modification in assisted reproduction for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial disease or treatment of infertility".

Date posted: 2014-03-01

New STAP stem cells questioned

After the high tide of enthusiasm comes the ebb tide of scepticism. The new STAP cells discovered by a team of researchers from Japan and Boston are being questioned by stem cell scientists.

Date posted: 2014-03-01

The UN's zero-compliance with zero tolerance of abuse

Why is the UN criticising the Catholic Church? It can't control its own soldiers.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Synthetic gametes could enable homosexuals to have children

With advances in stem cell technology constantly advancing, the dream of artificial (or synthetic) gametes comes ever closer. Last September Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, hosted a conference on "Artificial Gametes: Science and Ethics" (no papers available at the moment).

Date posted: 2014-02-25

We must stand firm on brain-death standard, says NEJM

Two recent controversies over "brain-dead" patients have obviously flustered some medical ethicists. Writing in a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine, David C. Magnus, Benjamin S. Wilfond, and Art Caplan insist that the definition of death as brain death must be maintained.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Iran, the fertility capital of the Middle East

Iran has become the fertility capital of the Muslim Middle East, reports the magazine Foreign Policy.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Is IVF overused, ask researchers

Hard questions need to be asked about the steep rise in IVF around the world, says the Evidence Based IVF Group.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

More questions about Belgian euthanasia

Assertions that euthanasia in Belgium is safe and voluntary have been undermined by a recently-published study in the Journal of Medical Ethics. A survey of end-of-life decisions made by Flemish doctors in 2007 has found that in nearly 80% of cases of terminal sedation, there was no explicit request from the patient. Terminal sedation, or relieving the distress of dying patients by heavily sedating them, accounts for nearly 10% of all deaths in Flanders.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Pregnant Texas woman removed from life support

Texas woman Marlise Muñoz was disconnected from life support last Sunday. All cardiac function ceased within a few minutes. Her body was released to her family, ending a nation-wide debate over reproductive rights, brain death, and advance directives.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Disgraced South Korean cloning expert making a comeback

This year marks the tenth anniversary of what may have been the most spectacular scientific fraud of the last 100 years: Hwang Woo-suk's claim that he had cloned human embryos. It made him a scientific celebrity everywhere, but especially in South Korea. The fraudulent data and ethical lapses, however, soon emerged and his career seemed over, his name a byword for scientific infamy.

Date posted: 2014-02-25

Stunning discovery creates ethical stem cells

Immersing cells in acid creates pluripotent stem cells? Who could believe that? But it could be the future.

Date posted: 2014-02-23

At last, a President who is tough on gay marriage! But in Ecuador?

It would be hard to find a national leader whose leftist credentials have been more brightly burnished than Rafael Correa, Ecuador's president since 2007. He allied himself with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, threatened to renege on the national debt, bashed American oil companies, gave Wikileaks leader Julian Assange asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London, expelled an American ambassador, and denounced the pro-privatization, free-market "Washington Consensus".

Date posted: 2014-01-14

Anthropologist honoured for alerting world to organ trafficking

Anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, of the University of California Berkeley, has been honored by the American Anthropological Association with its first ever Anthropology in Public Policy Award for her trailblazing work on the dark practice of human organ trafficking.

Date posted: 2013-12-22

Govt bioethics commission releases report on incidental findings

A genetic test for breast cancer shows that a patient is not at risk. But the results also reveal that there is an elevated risk of heart disease. What do the researchers owe the participant?

Date posted: 2013-12-22

Polygamy comes out of the closet

Is Utah's ban on polygamy unconstitutional? Last week a Federal Court judge ruled that it is, after Kody Brown and his four wives, the stars of the reality TV series Sister Wives, challenged it.

Date posted: 2013-12-19

Scrap "luxury journal" system, says Nobel Prize winner

One of the recipients of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine has used it as a platform for a blistering attack on the whole system of publishing research in science and medicine.

Date posted: 2013-12-19

It's official. If Australia gets same-sex marriage, polygamy is next.

There were tears of indignation outside of Australia's High Court yesterday, but it was the result that everyone expected: a law passed on December 3 authorising same-sex marriage in the Australian Capital Territory was unconstitutional. The marriages of the 30 or so gay and lesbian couples who had exchanged vows under the law have now been annulled.

Date posted: 2013-12-17

Belgian kids get the ultimate Christmas present

The outcome was expected, but observers overseas were astonished at the margin of victory. By a vote of 50 to 17 yesterday, the Belgian Senate approved euthanasia for children. When the bill finally passes - which now seems quite certain - there will be no age limit for choosing to die at the hands of Belgian doctor. The next step is a vote in the lower house, which will probably take place in May.

Date posted: 2013-12-17

Nitschke sets up Adelaide clinic for assisted suicide

A euthanasia clinic has been set up by Australia's leading euthanasia activist, Dr Philip Nitschke, in Adelaide. Police are keeping a close watch on activities there, but Dr Nitschke, who is used to working at the very edge of the law, is said to be doing nothing clearly illegal.

Date posted: 2013-12-15

How much is that genome in the window?

The search for UK volunteers willing to ditch privacy and donate their genome and health data to science has begun with the launch of the Personal Genome Project UK. The organisers hope to find 100,000 donors.

Date posted: 2013-12-15

Saudi Arabian and Chinese couple search abroad for surrogate mothers

Saudi couples who are unable to have children are employing surrogate mothers in Asia and Europe even though surrogacy has been condemned by the country's Islamic Jurisprudence Council.

Date posted: 2013-12-15

Seventh revision of Declaration of Helsinki published

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Helsinki, the benchmark for ethical medical research on subjects.

Date posted: 2013-12-15

A breath of life for an old religion

Pope Francis's game plan is a stunning and inspiring document.

Date posted: 2013-12-11

China's black market in scientific papers

Reporters for the journal Science have documented a thriving Chinese black market in articles and authorship in reputable scientific journals. "People are sparing no expense in order to get published," says the former vice-president of Peking University Third Hospital.

Date posted: 2013-12-11

Should bioethicists go ninja?

There is still life in most famous bioethics article of all time, "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" This was 2012 article in the February issue of Journal of Medical Ethics by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, two Italian bioethicists working in Australia.

Date posted: 2013-12-11

Belgium take first step towards euthanasia for children

A bill to legalise euthanasia in Belgium for children and for patients with dementia passed its first legislative hurdle this week. A Senate committee voted 13-4 to approve a first draft.

Date posted: 2013-12-11

The other controversy about genetic tests

The hot water into which 23andme has landed is just one of many simmering controversies about genetic testing.

Date posted: 2013-12-11

Nov 22, 1963: Aldous Huxley

The author of Brave New World warns us that drugs and recreational sex are dehumanising.

Date posted: 2013-12-03

Syrian refugees selling kidneys to survive

Lebanon: a country where there are sick people with money, healthy Syrian refugees without money, skilled doctors, and no effective government regulation.

Date posted: 2013-12-03

New group launched in Europe to oppose euthanasia

Concern about the steady expansion of the boundaries of euthanasia in Belgium is growing.

Date posted: 2013-12-03

Is autonomy a flaky idea?

The monolithic concept of autonomy may be fissuring, judging from recent articles in the bioethics journals. In debates over key issues at the beginning and end of life, autonomy has been an important criterion, often the only one, for settling problems. But as academics bat the ball back and forth, it seems that it is beginning to fray.

Date posted: 2013-12-03

Should prisoners be allowed to donate organs?

Some American politicians have discovered how to reconcile punishment and compassion: allow prisoners on death row to donate their organs.

Date posted: 2013-12-03

It's more expensive, unnecessary and unhealthier: so why do IVF clinics prefer ICSI?

Despite complaints from experts, more and more IVF clinics are using intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Date posted: 2013-12-03

What if we had a pill for the madness of love?

Escaping from relationships is one of the issues that four authors, all from Oxford, including Julian Savulescu, discuss in a lead article in the American Journal of Bioethics.

Date posted: 2013-12-03

When it comes to their colleagues' mistakes, doctors keep mum

Mandatory reporting over issues like death or injury due to defective manufactured goods or over suspected child abuse is common nowadays. How about doctor error? This is one of the leading causes of death in the US -- but doctors are very reluctant to blow the whistle on their colleagues.

Date posted: 2013-12-03

Same-sex marriage has an unexpected foe

The respectability of marriage would be a disaster for gays and lesbians, argues a leading academic.

Date posted: 2013-11-25

Unpublished trial results are "ethical failure"

Nearly 300,000 people who participated in clinical trials have been exposed to harm without any personal or social benefit, according to research published in the BMJ.

Date posted: 2013-11-09

Yes, the "slippery slope" is real, says assisted suicide supporter

A tribunal to provide sympathetic and speedy consideration for terminally-ill patients who wish to end their lives has been proposed by a British legal expert.

Date posted: 2013-11-09

Belgian debate over child euthanasia heats up

A heated debate on proposals to legalise euthanasia for minors in Belgium intensified this week. The governing Socialist party has proposed the bill while the Christian Democratic Flemish party has declared that it will challenge it in the European Court of Human Rights, if it were to become law.

Date posted: 2013-11-09

The taint of Nazi medicine lingers on

More revelations about the medical profession under the Nazis in this week's Slate. A riveting article by Emily Bazelon demonstrates that medicine still has not acknowledged that some areas of anatomy still carry the taint of Nazi atrocities.

Date posted: 2013-11-09

Educating pressure resistant medicos

How can we ensure that doctors resist pressure to participate in unethical activities?

Date posted: 2013-11-09

Experts slam doctors in War on Terror

An independent report has highlighted ongoing violations of medical ethics at Guantanamo Bay and called on the Department of Defense (DoD) and the medical community to conform to ethical principles.

Date posted: 2013-11-09

Gene silencing technique offers hope for cure for Down syndrome

Is it possible to "cure" Down syndrome? Jeanne Lawrence, of the University Massachusetts Medical School, believes that it could happen some day.

Date posted: 2013-11-03

Simultaneous surrogates: India's new trend

The Indian surrogacy industry keeps tweaking its product line to keep up with the market. The latest trend to emerge in the media is twiblings - children born at the same time to two surrogate mothers.

Date posted: 2013-11-03

How much does irrationality limit autonomy?

Like human dignity, autonomy is a word more honoured than analysed, even though it is the cornerstone of most contemporary bioethics approaches.

Date posted: 2013-11-03

Bioethics is tough; why not abolish it?

Bioethics is like ice cream: there are many different flavours on a common base. There is utilitarian bioethics, deontological bioethics, natural law bioethics, principalist bioethics, Islamic bioethics, and so on. What they have in common is that some things are moral and others are immoral.

Date posted: 2013-10-20

No prosecution for doctors who agreed to sex-selective abortion in UK

Forty-six years after it was legalized in the UK, the legal status of abortion is still in a muddle. The Director of Public Prosecutions decided earlier this month not to prosecute two doctors who had agreed to do sex-selective abortions.

Date posted: 2013-10-20

Weight loss surgery provokes controversy

Obesity, one of the great health issues of our time, is provoking some controversial treatments by doctors. Here are two recent issues which ought to ring bioethical alarm bells.

Date posted: 2013-10-20

Another unethical study - this time in NY's Bowery

Here's a familiar script: medical researchers in the 1950s in a democratic country conduct forgotten experiments which yield no useful data on a vulnerable population.

Date posted: 2013-10-20

The inexorable bracket creep of euthanasia in Belgium

This op-ed appeared in today's issue of The Mercury, the main newspaper in Hobart, Tasmania, where members of Parliament are gearing up for a debate on euthanasia. It was a companion piece to an article in favour of legalisation by Emeritus Professor Colin Wendell-Smith, convenor of Doctors for Dying with Dignity and co-convenor of Doctors for Voluntary Euthanasia.

Date posted: 2013-10-20

Melbourne GP investigated for refusing a sex-selective abortion

A general practitioner in the Australian state of Victoria is under investigation for refusing to get involved in a sex-selective abortion.

Date posted: 2013-10-20

Politicians denounce three-parent embryos as "eugenic"

Opponents of the UK's plans to legalise "three-parent embryos" have not given up. A group of 34 European politicians from the Council of Europe, including eight British MPs and peers, have signed a declaration denouncing the idea as "eugenic".

Date posted: 2013-10-20

23andme denies that it is marketing tool for "designer babies"

A controversy is raging over a patent awarded to the American company 23andMe for predictive genetics software. By using its Family Traits Inheritor Calculator, clients will be able to estimate the probability of having a child with certain genetic traits.

Date posted: 2013-10-20

Discovered: the secret of morality

American scientists contend that the way to make people more moral is to get them to think about science.

Date posted: 2013-10-03

Ban boxing, says neuroscientist

One of Britain's leading neuroscientists, John Hardy, of University College London, has used the magazine New Scientist to call for a ban on boxing. He says that he does not want to be a killjoy, but the wretched lives of punchdrunk boxers are sufficient argument to end a sport which consists in targeting the brain.

Date posted: 2013-09-21

Nature editor questions "the religion of science"

The public should treat scientists with a bit less reverence, says a senior editor of Nature in a controversial column in The Guardian. Henry Gee writes that scientists acquired an undeserved aura of absolute authority in the 20th century.

Date posted: 2013-09-21

Legal complications of posthumous reproduction

Thanks to frozen sperm and frozen embryos, it is possible for a man to have offspring after death, even many years after his death. This is leading to complex legal issues for rich and poor alike, according to an article in the New York Times.

Date posted: 2013-09-21

British prosecutor declines to lay charges for sex-selective abortions

Even pro-choice supporters in England have expressed their exasperation at a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to bring to trial doctors who agreed to do illegal sex-selective abortions. The CPS says that it would not be "in the public interest" as the doctors are still be investigated by the General Medical Council.


Date posted: 2013-09-21

Should mentally incompetent people be allowed to donate organs?

Should a mentally incompetent person be allowed to donate organs? Surprisingly, according to an article in the European Journal of Health Law, national laws give very different answers to this question.

Date posted: 2013-09-21

"Louise is not afraid of inflicting pain on troubled families"

Louise Casey, the head of the British government's troubled families programme, says that some mothers of large, expensive and troubled children should be forcefully counselled about using contraception.

Date posted: 2013-09-21

UK bioethicists promoting a second wave of eugenics

Eugenics is alive and well in British academia. Stephen Wilkinson, of Lancaster University, recently published a long discussion paper, "Eugenics and the Ethics of Selective Reproduction", together with another bioethicist, Eve Garrard.

Date posted: 2013-09-21

Australia needs a referendum on redefining marriage

The rainbow flag sank like a stone in last weekend's election. But there's no room for complacency.

Date posted: 2013-09-15

After 45 minutes, Ohio man's heart starts beating again

The heart of a 37-year-old diesel mechanic stopped beating for 45 minutes - so long that doctors thought he was dead.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

Chinese push to ban unethical doctors

The Chinese government and the Chinese Medical Association have called for life-bans for doctors convicted of unethical behaviour.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

Single dad and surrogate mother: a growing combination in US

With legal surrogate mothers in short supply, gay and single men in the US are paying as much as US$175,000 for the privilege of raising their own child.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

Whose autonomy is respected in Belgium?

Opponents of euthanasia in Belgium are highlighting the state of disability services there.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

Examining the hidden stories of infertility

With more than 5 million IVF babies born since 1978, most people think that infertility is easily fixed.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

US ob-gyns endorse same-sex marriage

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) officially endorsed same-sex marriage this week. Although it touched upon the human rights dimension of the debate, its main argument is that legalizing gay marriage would help women's health.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

Euthanasia could save us money, says Nitschke

Even the most seasoned campaigners for euthanasia and assisted suicide are wary of Australia's best-known advocate, Dr Philip Nitschke.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

Deep inside, some "vegetative state" patients are aware

Canadian neuroscientists have detected conscious activity in a patient who has been in a "vegetative state" for 12 years using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Date posted: 2013-09-08

Patient preferences for end-of-life care still ignored in US

A new report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project finds that although the use of hospice care for Medicare patients with advanced cancer is increasing, many patients do not receive it until they are literally on their deathbed, within three days of the end of life.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

False memories lead to good health

Manipulating memories has been a popular theme in science fiction films like Inception or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This is based on more than a shred of truth.

Date posted: 2013-09-08

UK law blurs in posthumous sperm retrieval case

Is Britain going Dutch in assisted reproduction? The peculiar attitude of the Dutch towards statutes has allowed practices (like euthanasia) which are clearly illegal in black-letter law to be carried out and even regulated in a kind of shadow legal system.

Date posted: 2013-08-27

Illegal sex-selective abortions widespread in Indian surrogacy industry

Indian health officials are gravely concerned about illegal sex-selective abortions in the country's surrogacy industry. According to officials in charge of monitoring sex-selection which was banned in 1994, hospital records show a remarkable discrepancy between the delivery of girls and boys in surrogacy cases.

Date posted: 2013-08-27

Wet nursing is a cow of a job, say bioethicists

Now that gay marriage has become legal in France, there may be commercial opportunities for les nourrices. A 29-year-old nurse has posted an advertisement on a French version of Craigslist, offering to rent out her breasts to gay couples for 100 Euros a day, guaranteeing at least 10 feeds for a baby.

Date posted: 2013-08-27

The Wong way forward for Australia

Yesterday evening's discussion of same-sex marriage on SBS Insight was both great fun and a frightening omen. Insight is a bit like cage fighting for intellectuals. Representatives of opposing views say their piece and are booed or clapped by a carefully vetted audience.

Date posted: 2013-08-27

Will polyamory follow same-sex marriage?

The reasoning is the same; the rewards are the same. Why not?

Date posted: 2013-08-15

Falconer assisted suicide bill is unsafe, say British Lords

With euthanasia and assisted suicide on the legislative agenda in a number of jurisdictions around the world, there is a blizzard of reports for and against. A British group called Living and Dying Well, composed mostly of members of the House of Lords, and chaired by a barrister and a palliative care expert, has produced a stern rebuttal of claims that assisted suicide is safe.

Date posted: 2013-08-15

Conscientious objection: the struggle continues

The fight over conscientious objection to abortion has moved from the evening news to the academic journals. In the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health, two defenders of reproductive rights outline strategies to restrict abortion rights. They complain that "unregulated conscientious objection" seems to be growing, especially in countries where opposition to abortion is strong.

Date posted: 2013-08-15

Play always on the offensive!

After Rio, it's clear that Christianity is not about to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

Does the development of IVF have a murky past?

British physiologist Robert Edwards, who died earlier this year, received the 2010 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in developing IVF. His colleague, gynaeologist Patrick Steptoe, would no doubt have shared it, but he had passed away in 1988.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

Spread the love: a new principle for procreation in the age of IVF

Utilitarian notions of reproductive autonomy may not be as simple to apply as they seem. For several years Oxford's Julian Savulescu has been preaching the principle of procreative beneficence.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

Safeguards needed for genetic privacy

By now you must be used to the idea of the US National Security Agency siphoning up your Facebook account, your email account, your Skype calls, your phone records, your chats, and your browsing history. What's left for them to trawl through? How about your genome?

Date posted: 2013-08-01

Chinese scientists find new method of reprogramming cells

Chinese scientists have created induced pluripotent (iPS) cells by adding chemicals but not extra genes that might cause mutations or cancer.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

Deconstructing autonomy: a euthanasia advocate in perplexity

It could be a novel or a movie, but it's real life: when her own husband suddenly becomes a quadriplegic, a bioethicist famous for her advocacy of legalised voluntary euthanasia keeps him alive even though he wants to die.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

Down syndrome therapy now possible, says US researcher

A chromosome therapy for Down syndrome may be possible, according to ground-breaking research published in Nature.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

Sterilization of disabled should be banned, says Australian report

Sterilization of intellectually disabled people should be banned unless they can consent, an Australian Senate Committee has recommended (see report). And taking children overseas to be sterilized should be made a criminal offense.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

UK study shows birth defect risk doubles with cousin marriages

A major study in the UK has found that the risk of birth defects doubles from 3% to 6% if the spouses are first cousins.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

Irish minister expelled from party for opposing abortion

Ireland was treated to a rare spectacle this week: a politician who opposed a prime minister on a matter of conscience, lost a ministry, was expelled from her party, and parted without rancour.

Date posted: 2013-08-01

First-world problems 1: Belgian euthanasia doctors underpaid

The Belgian parliament is currently debating whether or not to give children the right to euthanasia. But several other issues have surfaced as well, amongst them a complaint about how much euthanasia doctors are paid. It's far too little, says Belgium's leading euthanasia doctor, Wim Distelmans.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

First-world problems 2: I'm really not into the whole "turbo-euthanasia" thing

Dr Sarah Van Laer, who has euthanased 28 patients since legalisation in 2002, has complained bitterly to the Belgian newspaper De Standaard about the burdens of her work.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

Another double euthanasia in Belgium

Another case of a loving couple choosing euthanasia so that they would not be separated has emerged in Belgium.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

Advance directives are often not honoured

Advance directives give peace of mind to patients and their loved ones because they can be sure that their health care wishes will be followed even if they are not able to communicate.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

France to vote on euthanasia later this year

French President Franois Hollande wants a national debate on euthanasia so that parliament can vote on it before the end of the year.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

Don't the Royals have a right to genetic privacy, too?

There is a wider issue at stake here, which is that the story reveals information about the genetic make-up of someone who has not consented to any DNA tests.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

UK to allow research into three-parent embryos

The UK government has decided that it will allow the creation of three-parent embryos to prevent the births of children with mitochondrial diseases.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

Surrogacy children face more developmental difficulties

"Signs of adjustment problems could be behaviour problems, such as aggressive or antisocial behaviour, or emotional problems, such as anxiety or depression," Dr Golombok told NBC Today.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

Assisted suicide prescriptions up 17% in Washington state

At least 83 people died last year in Washington state after taking a dose of lethal but legally-prescribed drugs, according to the state's fourth annual Death with Dignity Act report.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

Quebec euthanasia bill tabled

The Quebec government has tabled euthanasia legislation after nearly five years of debate. If approved by the province's assembly, it will be the most radical end-of-life law in North America.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

A new voice in bioethical debates

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford University is launching an open-source journal dealing with the application of philosophy to public policy.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

Doctors support detainees' protest over force-feeding at Guantanamo

Scores of doctors have signed an open letter in The Lancet to President Obama asking him to heed a letter written by 13 hunger-striking Guantanamo detainees to their doctors.

Date posted: 2013-07-13

Indian women victimized in sterilization camps

Sterilization of poor Indian women is still a major tool used by state governments to slow population growth. India carries out 37% of the world's female sterilizations - 4.6 million of them last year.

Date posted: 2013-06-22

Convicted paedophile gets child from surrogate mother in India

A convicted Israeli paedophile adopted a 4-year-old girl from a surrogate mother in India, the Jewish Chronicle has reported.

Date posted: 2013-06-22

Pill to be available over the counter in US

This week the Administration abandoned the fight. The morning-after contraceptive pill will now be sold as freely as headache tablets.

Date posted: 2013-06-22

Put disabled babies out of our misery, say Dutch doctors

Distress felt by parents of a dying newborn can justify the child's euthanasia, says Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), which represents doctors in the Netherlands.

Date posted: 2013-06-22

Not with a bang, but a whimper

After more than a decade of research on embryonic stem cells, scientists are quietly moving on to greener pastures.

Date posted: 2013-06-21

Why do we need marriage to be happy?

There was a consensus that gays did not want to be married, as gays do not aspire after bourgeois respectability.

Date posted: 2013-06-21

Another day, another Army sex scandal

When is the Australian Army going to learn about the birds and the bees?

Date posted: 2013-06-21

Please, doctor, put him out of our misery

In a stunning development, Dutch doctors say that the anguish of parents is another reason to euthanase disabled babies.

Date posted: 2013-06-21

UN debates use of killer robots

The ethics of using killer robots is adding a new subspeciality to bioethics. This week the United Nations Human Rights Council debated the use of lethal autonomous robots in Geneva. UN special rapporteur Christof Heyns, a South African legal expert, called for a moratorium while legal and ethical issues are knotted out.

Date posted: 2013-06-21

Are Dutch doctors losing their nerve over euthanasia?

Politicians in the Netherlands are pushing the organisation which represents Dutch doctors to overcome its misgivings over euthanasia for patients with dementia.

Date posted: 2013-06-21

Switzerland's "peculiar institution"

What is the position of the law on assisted suicide in Switzerland? Journalists often make the mistake of asserting that euthanasia is allowed there. This is not true: only assisted suicide - but this has been legal, astonishingly, since the 1930s.

Date posted: 2013-06-21

Switzerland: a suicide magnet

To describe Switzerland as a Mecca for suicide tourism is hyperbole, but suicide facilities would draw as many people as yodelling and cowbells.

Date posted: 2013-06-21

Myanmar imposing population control on Muslim minority

It is hard to imagine a more inhumane policy than China's one-child policy. But there is one: the two-child policy imposed on Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims.

Date posted: 2013-06-21

Al-Jazeera examines Australia's tussle with euthanasia

This 25-minute documentary by Al-Jazeera presents a balanced view of the campaign for euthanasia in Australia.

Date posted: 2013-05-26

Jinxed? Problems with landmark paper on human cloning

Last week we reported that researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University had finally cloned human embryos and successfully extracted embryonic stem cells. Unfortunately, the most recent paper has also been criticised for image duplication, evoking the nightmarish Hwang scandal.

Date posted: 2013-05-26

Fear factor: first pre-emptive removal of prostate

Following the highly publicised pre-emptive double mastectomy of Hollywood celebrity Angelina Jolie, it has emerged that a 53-year-old British man has become the first in the world to have a pre-emptive removal of his prostate.

Date posted: 2013-05-26

The man who didn't die

A Montana man brain cancer diagnosis shows how difficult it is to determine whether or not a person has a "terminal illness".

Date posted: 2013-05-26

Alzheimer's and the euthanasia debate

Negative attitudes towards Alzheimer's disease are undue influence on the euthanasia debate, claims an Australian bioethicist.

Date posted: 2013-05-26

Nobel laureate marketing lifespan test

The Australian winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine is leveraging her discovery to market a test which will help people know their true health status and biological age.

Date posted: 2013-05-26

Jolie's Choice

Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy made headlines around the world. But is she sending women the right message?

Date posted: 2013-05-26

Are bioethicists a "priestly caste"?

Is bioethics compatible with democracy? This is not a question that surfaces very often in policy debates featuring prestigious bioethicists.

Date posted: 2013-05-19

Bad news for fans of organ markets

Controversy continues to rage over whether or not to establish a market in organs to shorten steadily growing waiting lists. One objection is that applying a market model will result in exploitation and moral corruption..

Date posted: 2013-05-19

Belgian Nobel laureate dies through euthanasia

Euthanasia claimed its most famous victim last Saturday. At the age of 95, Belgian Nobel laureate Christian de Duve was killed with a lethal injection. He died in his home, surrounded by his four children.

Date posted: 2013-05-19

Georgia searches for solutions to gendercide

India and China are not the only countries with lop-sided sex ratios due to sex-selective abortions. Georgia, a former member of the USSR in the Caucasus with a population of about 4.5 million, has a distorted sex ratio at birth of 114 boys to 100 girls. One-third of the 36,000 abortion performed last year in Georgia were for sex selection. The natural ratio is about 105 to 100.

Date posted: 2013-05-19

Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers are being force-fed

Of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, about 100 are on a hunger strike. About 20 are being force-fed, according to the New York Times. About 40 medical staff have arrived to ensure that the detainees are fed.

Date posted: 2013-05-19

The media's "sea of fire"

Why is the media frothing over criticism of a long-dead homosexual economist?

Date posted: 2013-05-19

Not a noble death

The euthanasia of Nobel laureate Christian de Duve in Belgium is a worrying precedent for the world's baby boomers.

Date posted: 2013-05-19

14-year-old girl forced to become pregnant with donor sperm

This is not the way the era of assisted reproduction was supposed to work. An unnamed woman in the UK has been jailed for five years after artificially inseminating her 14-year-old adopted daughter in order to get another child.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

Five convictions for Kosovo organ trafficking

Five people have been convicted of organ trafficking in Kosovo by the European Union court which runs the legal system in the quasi-independent territory. The controversial case ended with a jail term of 8 years for a prominent urologist in Pristina, Lutfi Dervishi, for "organised crime and human trafficking".

Date posted: 2013-05-05

An attack on academic freedom?

Some bioethicists who feel at home in the utilitarian common room of the Journal of Medical Ethics described the imbroglio as an attack on academic freedom. Udo Schklenk, of Queen's University, in Ontario, who is also the editor of Bioethics, a distinguished international journal, complained bitterly that "bioethics journals are under increasing and sustained fire from political activists" of all stripes, from "the left, feminists, disability activists [to] religious conservatives".

Date posted: 2013-05-05

A blaze of controversy revisited

Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva's article in the UK-based Journal of Medical Ethics was "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" It wasn't a very original argument for the morality of infanticide - Peter Singer and Michael Tooley had made the same point decades ago - but the arresting title tossed even more petrol on the blaze. The authors contended that the same reasons which justify abortion are also sufficient to justify killing a child up for an unspecified time after birth.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

Fraud threatens the integrity of social psychology

Scientific studies are used to support controversial social policies like same-sex marriage. But can we rely on them?

Date posted: 2013-05-05

Australian think tank backs euthanasia

A new Australian think tank has issued a call for the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

Should prisoners donate organs?

Utah has become the first state to allow prisoners, even prisoners on death row, to donate organs.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

Wannabee amputees going to Asia for secret surgery

A feature story in the new online magazine Matter gives an exclusive account of how an American man found a surgeon in Asia who was willing to amputate his healthy leg.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

Tasmania's intimidating abortion bill

Deregistration, heavy fines and jail terms threaten those who voice their opposition to abortion.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

Foetal reduction still needed in IVF

Two IVF stories from opposite ends of the globe are a sobering reminder that "foetal reduction" remains a failsafe position in clinical practice.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

Why not buy and sell embryos, ask scholars in NEJM

Why can't embryos be bought and sold like any other commodity? Making this surprising proposal is less surprising than where it was made - in the America's leading medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

That "pernicious" notion of the "best interests of the child"

"It is hard to exaggerate the importance of this project: if it succeeds, I will have shown that the prevailing justifications offered for the regulation of reproduction, and most of the regulations they seek to justify, are either intellectually bankrupt or carry with them disturbing and problematic implications such that they are better off discarded... much of the existing law in this area cannot be justified."

Date posted: 2013-05-05

First drug to help Down syndrome people now being tested

The first drug to help people with Down syndrome overcome cognitive deficits is being tested on humans, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche has announced.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

"After-birth abortion" already exists in the Netherlands

In any case, Dr Verhagen points out, the official opinion of the American Academy of Pediatrics is that it is morally permissible to withdraw or withhold hydration and nutrition from newborns in some cases.

Date posted: 2013-05-05

First pregnancy from womb transplant announced

Turkish doctors have announced that the first woman ever to receive a uterus from a deceased donor is two weeks pregnant with an IVF baby.

Date posted: 2013-05-04

The other controversial legacy

Robert Edwards, the inventor of IVF, died two days after Margaret Thatcher. History may show that his impact was even greater than hers

Date posted: 2013-04-20

More controversy over mental health and abortion

Another controversial review of the mental health risks of abortion has been published, this time in the peer-reviewed Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

Date posted: 2013-04-20

Leading cancer centre in Washington state sets up assisted suicide program

The leading cancer centre in Washington state has published in the New England Journal of Medicine a blueprint of how to implement a dying-with-dignity program, now that assisted suicide has been legalised.

Date posted: 2013-04-20

Doctors failed to disclose risks in study of baby blindness, says US agency

Scientists at a number of top American universities failed to inform parents of the grave risks of enrolling in a clinical trial on blindness in premature babies, says the federal agency overseeing the welfare of people in research projects.

Date posted: 2013-04-20

Another IVF pioneer predicts revival of eugenics

"It is an issue that is more serious now in some ways because of the commercialisation of reproductive medicine, increasingly so with climate change, global warming, water shortages, food shortages, conflict and burgeoning technology that is not always well controlled by governments. It may well be an area that will rear its ugly head again. We should be on our guard against it."

Date posted: 2013-04-20

Is the one-child policy spoiling China's children?

Research confirms all the cliches about "little emperors", the children of parents who were forced to stop at one.

Date posted: 2013-04-20

Brazilian intensive care specialist investigated over deaths of 300 patients

A Brazilian doctor is being investigated for the murders of more than 300 intensive care patients. Dr Virginia Soares de Souza, 56, and seven members of her medical team allegedly administered a muscle-relaxant drug which impaired patients' ability to breathe and then reduced their oxygen supply, causing them to die of asphyxiation.

Date posted: 2013-04-20

Three-parent children in UK possible after HFEA report

The UK is moving closer to three-parent children after the fertility regulator informed the government that the public would back a controversial embryo treatment.

Date posted: 2013-04-20

Powdered eggs added to IVF complications

Until now women who wanted to preserve their eggs until the alarm rings on their reproductive clock had to freeze their eggs and store them at an IVF clinic.

Date posted: 2013-04-20

Saudi court sentences man to be paralysed as retribution for assault

Even by the rigorous standards of Saudi Arabian justice, the sentence meted out to Ali al-Khawahir is gruesome.

Date posted: 2013-04-20

"In vitro eugenics" is coming, predicts Australian bioethicist

Taking a peek into the future, an Australian bioethicist says that it will be possible to use stem cell technology to breed better humans in a Petri dish. Robert Sparrow, of Monash University, writes in the Journal of Medical Ethics that it is not too early to launch a debate about what he calls "in vitro eugenics".

Date posted: 2013-04-20

A continent which loves life

But what about "African exceptionalism"? Two experts, John Bongaarts and John Casterline, examine this intriguing notion in the latest issue of the world's leading demography journal, the Population and Development Review.

Date posted: 2013-04-18

Call for input from bioethicists from the developing world

Who are the gatekeepers in bioethics? Does editorial bias or institutional racism exist in leading bioethics journals?

Date posted: 2013-03-31

Retired Scottish doctor admits assisting in suicides

A retired Scottish doctor has admitted in a newspaper interview that he supplied three patients with lethal medication so that they could end their lives.

Date posted: 2013-03-31

Questions hover over "brain death", says US bioethicist

The leading opponent of defining death as the death of the brain is D. Alan Shewmon, a professor of paediatric neurology at UCLA Medical Center.

Date posted: 2013-03-31

Why wait until death for organ donation, asks Canadian bioethicist

Walter Glennon, of the University of Calgary, breathes new life into the Epicurean argument that death does not matter: "where death is, I am not; and where I am, death is not. So death is not to be feared, since it is nothing."

Date posted: 2013-03-31

Peak US fertility association green-lights IVF for over-50s

What about the children? A woman who conceives at 50 could die when her child is a teenager. This, the ethics committee acknowledges, is "one of the most stressful life events for children or adolescents". The statement leaves the question unanswered. It simply says that this is a problem which parents will have to deal with.

Date posted: 2013-03-31

New pope unlikely to change bioethics stand

Judging from his 2011 book Sobre Cielo y Tierra (On heaven and earth), a series of conversations on contemporary issues with an Argentinian rabbi, Pope Francis's stand on bioethical issues is fully in sync with his predecessors.

Date posted: 2013-03-21

Another man from a far country

Will a Pope from Argentina be able to brake the increasing secularisation of life in the West?

Date posted: 2013-03-21

Iron bars do not a prison make

The UK wants to ban prisoners from accessing government-funded fertility treatment while they are behind bars.

Date posted: 2013-03-21

UN report reframes bioethics as anti-torture ethic

A new United Nations report frames number of bioethical questions as issues of torture, giving a new twist to a number of controversial issues.

Date posted: 2013-03-21

Tasmania to liberalize abortion law

The Tasmanian bill goes even further, however, possibly making it one of the most radical bills in the world. Even volunteer pregnancy counsellors will be required to refer clients for abortions or be penalised with a heavy fine.

Date posted: 2013-03-21

Scotland's spiritual scandal

Disheartened Catholics mustn't waste a good crisis after the disgrace of Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

Date posted: 2013-03-21

Indian gynaecologist jailed for organising massacre of Muslims

One of the most easily grasped ethical obligations of a doctor is not to incite people to mass murder.

Date posted: 2013-03-21

Taking same-sex marriage step by step

Whether you call it polygamy, or polyamory, or consensual nonmonogamy, multiple partners in a single relationship is just over the horizon.

Date posted: 2013-03-21

"Depraved" remarks about disabled cost Cornwall councillor his job

Public outrage over a crass remark about disabled people has cost a councillor in Britain his job.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Ancestry testing is "genetic astrology", says UK geneticist

A closer study of ancestry claims shows that they are very easy to make.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Does a sperm donor have the duties of a father?

The debate over parental duties of sperm donors has flared up again - this time in response to an American man being sued for medical expenses of the child of his donated sperm.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Horror in a mass sterilization camp in India

For decades the Indian government has been encouraging women to be voluntarily sterilized - and they have coopted state and local governments to help persuade the women.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Israeli sperm donor wants his stuff back

A fascinating case is unfolding in Israel pitting a anonymous sperm donor against a woman who demands his sperm. The arguments are worthy of a novel - or at least an afternoon soap opera.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Should 12-year-old Belgian kids be able to choose euthanasia?

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium under certain conditions, but not for minors, boys and girls under 18. Now the upper house of the Belgian parliament is studying whether to extend the privilege of euthanasia to them as well.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Sudanese doctors participate in punitive amputations

"Cross amputation is a form of state-sponsored torture," said Dr Vincent Iacopino, senior medical advisor at Physicians for Human Rights.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

BBC sceptic looks at assisted dying

BBC World Service features a very interesting documentary on assisted dying.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Dutch government studying possibility of three or more parents

According to Green member of parliament Liesbeth van Tongeren, there are already between 20,000 and 25,000 children living in patchwork families.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

NHS imposes "Stalinist" gag orders on staff, UK doctor claims

A scathing report earlier this month on an English hospital run by the National Health Service recommended that NHS "gagging clauses" be banned if they are intended to limit discussion of patient care or safety.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

A bright future for neuroethics after Obama greenlights huge neuroscience project

It is an exciting and ambitious project - but there are sceptics. Neuroscientist Christopher Chabris, of Union College, in upstate New York, pours cold water on the proposal in his blog. First, 10 years may not be long enough. The brain is so complex that a decade may be needed to map every neuron in the drosophila brain..

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Scrap "unwinnable" war on drugs and fight antibiotic misuse instead, says philosopher

Governments around the world should stop squandering resources fighting an "unwinnable war" against illegal drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. Instead, they should work on curbing antibiotic misuse, which poses a far more serious threat to human health.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Belgian euthanasia: not such a big deal?

A stinging report by a Belgian bioethics think tank last December warned that euthanasia there was being trivialised. "Initially legalized under very strict conditions, euthanasia has gradually become a very normal and even ordinary act," said the European Institute of Bioethics (IEB), in Brussels.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

Key stem cell guideline ignored in US

After President Obama reversed his predecessor's stand on embryo research in 2009 shortly after his inauguration, the battles seemed over. The main ethical consideration was ensuring that the donors of embryos and gametes gave their informed consent to research.

Date posted: 2013-03-05

The myth of disappearing Lebanese Christians

A bombshell report shows that Christians are making a demographic comeback in Lebanon because of tumbling Muslim birth rates.

Date posted: 2013-03-02

German sperm donor children gain right to know fathers

About 100,000 children have been born in Germany through sperm donation.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

French doctors endorse euthanasia

The decision was supported by a telephone survey of 605 French doctors which showed that 60% were in favour of active euthanasia.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

German minister for education and research loses job in plagiarism scandal

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, losing one minister because he plagiarised his PhD thesis is a misforture; losing two looks like carelessness.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Does Western bioethics ignore the family?

A conference in Singapore recently cast bioethics in a different light. Jim Sabin, a professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote on his blog that he was delighted to see the emergence of a family-centred bioethics at an event organised by The Ethics of Family in Health and Social Care Research Consortium.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Another speed bump for Belgian euthanasia

The complications of euthanasia keep bubbling away in Belgium.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Tasmania may get legal euthanasia

Tasmanians are once again gearing up for a debate over euthanasia. Labor Premier Lara Giddings and her Greens Deputy Nick McKim released a report this week arguing that euthanasia and assisted suicide are compassionate responses for "patients who are dying in prolonged suffering".

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Colorado hospital apologises over personhood dispute

The politics of "personhood" has been a big issue in Colorado in recent years.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Evil is all in the brain. Or is it?

After 3000 years of speculation, a German neurologist has finally located the source of evil. Well, at least Das Bild says he has.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

The true "immorality" of test-tube babies

IVF has often been accused of being an immoral procedure, although in recent years ethical objections have been smothered by the jubilation of parents -- and shareholders in IVF clinics.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Innocents abroad

Tasmanians are once again gearing up for a debate over euthanasia. Labor Premier Lara Giddings and her Greens Deputy Nick McKim released a report yesterday arguing that euthanasia and assisted suicide are compassionate responses for "patients who are dying in prolonged suffering".

Date posted: 2013-02-18

"Universal bereavement, an inspiring achievement"

Whether humanity is worth saving or what precautions we are prepared to take could be the biggest bioethics questions of all!

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Make the world a better place. Take nice drugs

It seems that De Grazia values moral behaviour more than moral freedom and that a safe, orderly, non-violent world would be worth the sacrifice.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Israel halts underhanded contraceptive injections for Ethiopian migrants

Years of rumours that Ethiopian women were pressured into having contraceptive injections by Israeli officials have finally been confirmed.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

Swedish transsexuals win right not to be sterilized

Transsexuals have won a major victory in Sweden. A court has ruled unconstitutional a law which required them to be sterilized before they could be legally recognised as another gender.

Date posted: 2013-02-18

US doctors back routine screening for "reproductive coercion"

Doctors should routinely screen women and teenagers for "reproductive coercion", says a committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In its official opinion paper, it paints a sombre picture of coercive and domineering men who force partners to have sex and become pregnant. "The most common forms of reproductive coercion," it says, "include sabotage of contraceptive methods, pregnancy coercion, and pregnancy pressure." Some male partners go so far as to forcefully remove intrauterine devices and vaginal rings, poke holes in condoms, or destroy birth control pills.

Date posted: 2013-02-17

Men more likely than women to commit scientific fraud

Male scientists are far more likely to commit fraud than females, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have claimed. And there is no difference whether a scientist is beginning his career or has tenure.

Date posted: 2013-02-17

The ultimate surrogate adventure challenge: gestating a Neanderthal

What's the truth? Well, in point of fact, Professor Church really wants to see a cloned Neanderthal, a process which requires an "extremely adventurous female human". It's just that the obstacle is societal opposition to cloning.

Date posted: 2013-02-17

Six lessons from death in Belgium

Two weeks before Christmas, a doctor euthanased them at Brussels University Hospital. It was a perfectly legal procedure. All the boxes had been ticked and all the documents signed. The two men were deaf and slowly going blind as well. They had nothing to live for. They qualified.

Date posted: 2013-01-26

Quebec moves towards euthanasia

Quebec is slowly moving towards legal, or quasi-legal, euthanasia. A committee of legal experts has delivered a 400-page report to the provincial government which argues that it should allow "medical assistance to die" when a patient is close to death is suffering from unbearable physical or psychological pain.

Date posted: 2013-01-26

German doctors shaken by corruption allegations

The German Medical Association has investigated nearly 1,000 cases of corrupt doctors over the past few years, according to its president, Frank Ulrich Montgomery.

Date posted: 2013-01-26

Belgian twins euthanased because they "had nothing to live for"

Professor Chris Gastmans, of the Catholic University of Leuven, criticised the deaths as an impoverished response to disability. "Is this the only humane response that we can offer in such situations? I feel uncomfortable here as ethicist. Today it seems that euthanasia is the only right way to end life. And I think that's not a good thing. In a society as wealthy as ours, we must find another, caring way to deal with human frailty."

Date posted: 2013-01-26

Police investigate Ahmedabad surrogacy racket

Loose regulations and corrupt officials make it easy for surrogacy to turn into baby-trafficking.

Date posted: 2013-01-26

India cracks down on surrogacy

Is India finally cracking down on surrogacy for foreigners?

Date posted: 2013-01-26

See the beauty in these very special

This brief but touching video speaks for itself. Felicia Hogan, from British Columbia, discovered that the twins she was expecting were conjoined.

Date posted: 2013-01-26

"These tragedies must end"

Why are so many rampage killers the sons of divorce?

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Massive fraud by Dutch psychologist shows weak side of scientific method

The credibility of the field of social psychology is at risk, a Dutch panel has found after reviewing massive misconduct by a researcher who published dozens of articles based on fraudulent data in 15 years at three universities.

Date posted: 2012-12-30

The New Eugenics

What will the new eugenics look like? In the last century, the fashion was to eliminate "degenerates" through sterilization or murder. In the 21st century, eugenicists may call for physical and intellectual genetic enhancement. Those who cannot afford it will drop behind, doomed to become mere drones.

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Singer endorses anti-ageing campaign

Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer has hopped onto the anti-ageing bandwagon.

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Australians debate commercial surrogacy

Australia should legalize commercial surrogacy to stop the exploitation of women overseas and to ensure that agreements are properly regulated to protect children, surrogates and commissioning parents, says the Chief Federal Court Magistrate John Pascoe.

Date posted: 2012-12-30

The third rail of feminism

Why isn't the media interested in the facts about the controversial practice of female genital mutilation?

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Euthanasia "trivialized" in Belgium: report by bioethics institute

The central theme of the report is the ineffectiveness and bias of the body established by the legislation to allay the misgivings of the public by monitoring and controlling euthanasia.

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Donor sperm families are happy families, Australian researchers find

One blot on the happy picture sketched in this study is that only 35% of the couples interviewed had told the child about the use of donor sperm.

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Should egg freezing be every girl's graduation gift?

At the same time as IVF experts in the UK issue dire warning to women that their fertility drops rapidly with age, they are also touting the possibility freezing their eggs as an insurance policy

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Blow to Germany's animal lovers

Ahead of a debate in the Bundestag next week, Hans-Michael Goldmann, chairman of the parliamentary agricultural committee, has declared that animals should not be used ";for personal sexual activities or made available to third parties for sexual activities" thereby forcing them to behave in ways that are inappropriate to their species

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Report on Dutch euthanasia for 2011 released

The report fails to deal with the problem of doctors who do not report euthanasia. In an article in The Lancet, an American physician, Dr Bernard Lo pointed out earlier this year that about 20% of the doctors who administered euthanasia did not report it. Were these deaths voluntary or non-voluntary? No one knows, because they were not reported.

Date posted: 2012-12-30

Transhumanists gather in San Francisco

The theme of this year's conference was "Writing the Future". Its focus was communicating transhumanist ideas -- advances in robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, human enhancement, brain-computer integration, regenerative medicine, and radical life extension - so that the public is prepared for the future.

Date posted: 2012-12-30

"Privacy is for paedos"

At the heart of this gigantic report are unanswered questions about the nature of privacy.


Date posted: 2012-12-29

Decline and fall is back

Eugenics, discredited nowadays, was public policy less than a hundred years ago. The disabled, the retarded, or the racially impure should not be allowed to breed.

Date posted: 2012-11-24

Pregnant woman's death pours fuel on Ireland's fiery abortion debate

Ireland's restrictive abortion laws are under attack after a 31-year-old pregnant woman died of septicaemia after pleading vainly with doctors to abort the child. Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist working in Galway, has become a martyr for abortion reform.

Date posted: 2012-11-24

China to phase out organ donation from executed criminals

China will begin phase out organ donation from executed criminals next years, as it moves towards a voluntary system, says a government expert.

Date posted: 2012-11-24

Paying the bills with surrogacy fees

Surrogacy may be the "new normal" on American television -- glamorous, funny and quirky.

Date posted: 2012-11-24

Parents fail in bid to harvest brain-dead teen's sperm

Another chapter in the Wild West of reproductive technology ended abruptly on Thursday. A brain-damaged 19-year-old man, Rufus McGill II, died in Roanoke, Virginia, after his life-support system was removed at the request of his parents

Date posted: 2012-11-23

Save newborn blood samples, say bioethicists

Blood samples left over from newborn screening tests are a genetic treasure trove which should be available to researchers, argue bioethicists in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Date posted: 2012-11-15

More "socially infertile" women turning to IVF

More and more single women in Australia are turning to IVF, clinics claim. Over the past three years, the numbers have risen by 10%, mostly older heterosexual women.

Date posted: 2012-11-15

Surrogate mother of 13 calls it a day

British woman Carole Horlock, 49, plans to retire from a long and prolific career as a surrogate mother. After bearing 13 children for other people from 9 pregnancies, she holds the world record for surrogacies. But her current pregnancy is going to be her last.

Date posted: 2012-11-15

UK's High Court to investigate do-not-resuscitate orders

The UK's High Court is to hold a full judicial review of do-not-resuscitate orders in February. It is currently investigating stinging allegations that doctors in the National Health Service let patients die without seeking consent from them or their carers.

Date posted: 2012-11-15

Boy born without a brain dies after three years

A Colorado family is mourning this week the death of a son who was born without a brain. Although anencephaly - a condition in which babies are born with only a brain stem - affects 1 in 10,000 births, most live only a few hours or days. Nickolas Coke lived three years before succumbing to pneumonia.

Date posted: 2012-11-11

Leading health expert slams assisted suicide in NY Times

Dr Ezekiel J. Emanuel was one of the most reviled figures of the Obama Administration during the debate over its health care bill. He was even called a "Deadly Doctor" who wanted to ration health care. Last year he left the Administration and returned to academia, but no doubt some foes of Obama still regard him as a fan of euthanasia.

Date posted: 2012-11-11

World Medical Association strengthens opposition to capital punishment

The World Medical Association has strengthened its opposition to capital punishment with a resolution at its recent conference in Bangkok that "physicians will not facilitate the importation or prescription of drugs for execution."

Date posted: 2012-11-11

Legal adventures 1: Italian IVF baby removed from elderly narcissistic parents

A girl conceived with donated eggs and sperm for an elderly Italian couple will be put up for adoption after a court found that they were too narcissistic and negligent to care for her properly.

Date posted: 2012-11-11

Legal adventures 2: gay sperm donor hit for child support 13 years later

A gay man in the UK has been startled to learn that he will have to pay child support for two children he fathered - 13 years after the first child was born.

Date posted: 2012-11-11

Legal adventures 3: NJ surrogacy case dashes mother's hopes

The commissioning parents, known as TJS and ALS, had attempted to take the safest possible legal route to parentage. An embryo created with the father's sperm and a donated egg was placed in the womb of ";gestational carrier" AF.

Date posted: 2012-11-11

Australia launches inquiry into forced sterilisation of disabled

Australia regards itself as a champion of human rights, but in 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council has detected an abuse - the involuntary sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities (report, 86.39). Now a Senate committee has launched an inquiry.

Date posted: 2012-11-11

Peter Singer on abortion

Singer nonetheless believes that abortion is ethical, because even a viable fetus is not a rational, self-aware person with desires and plans, which would be cut short by death; hence it should not have the same right as humans who have such qualities. Abortion is also justified, Singer added, both as a female right and as a method for curbing overpopulation.

Date posted: 2012-11-06

US nurses strongly oppose assisted suicide

Despite campaigns in several states for the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia and the existence of legal assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington state, the American Nurses Association (ANA) still strongly opposes both end-of-life options.

Date posted: 2012-11-06

International market in frozen eggs now a possibility

However, the picture is still not completely clear. The ASRM says that egg freezing could be beneficial for women who are infertile after treatments for other diseases and some genetic conditions. It stresses that career women who want to delay child-bearing should not rely upon egg-freezing as fertility insurance.

Date posted: 2012-11-06

Surrogacy and polygamy: a volatile mix

Every culture, it seems, has distinctive permutations of the conundrums of surrogate motherhood. A dispute from Pakistan illustrates the thorny issue of surrogacy in a Muslim society which allows polygamy.

Date posted: 2012-11-06

K govt agrees to investigate "death pathway"

Pressure from the British media has forced an investigation into the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway by National Health Service and the Association of Palliative Medicine.

Date posted: 2012-11-06

What lies beyond conscience?

Respect for conscience and conscientious objection is being eroded in the medical profession.

Date posted: 2012-10-24

Massachusetts could become third US state with assisted suicide

On November 6 Massachusetts voters will choose whether or not their state should legalize assisted suicide. If they vote Yes, it will become the third American state to approve it, after Oregon and Washington.

Date posted: 2012-10-24

Denmark shocked by story of brain-dead donor's recovery

The world of organ donation in Denmark is in turmoil. A documentary was aired earlier this month which showed family members reacting in anguish to the news that their 19-year-old daughter was brain dead after a car accident, agreeing to donate her organs and allowing doctors to turn off her respirator. About 1.7 million viewers tuned in to the heart-rending drama.

Date posted: 2012-10-24

"Soon our happy hearts will quiver"

Are bioethicists reviving mediaeval inquiries into how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Date posted: 2012-10-24

US ethics panel warns of misuse of genetic information

Whole genome sequencing is a double-edged sword, says the US government's leading bioethics advisory group, and safeguards are needed to protect the privacy of patients.

Date posted: 2012-10-24

A Nobel Prize for ethics?

This year's Nobel Prize for Medicine was shared by a Briton and a Japanese who respects the dignity of the human embryo.

Date posted: 2012-10-10

3-person embryo consultation launched in UK

"This is not about finding a cure. It is about preventing people with MCD being born. We need first to be clear that these new technologies, even if they are eventually shown to work, will do nothing for the thousands of people already suffering from mitochondrial disease or for those who will be born with it in the future."

Date posted: 2012-10-09

Elderly in Europe facing a "crisis" in end-of-life care

"Improvements in treatment of dementia over the last decade have improved prognosis. But that means there needs to be an increase in care and support, both for those living at home, and for those in the last years of life, in formalised care settings."

Date posted: 2012-10-09

Big rise in Dutch euthanasia deaths

In 2011 there were 3,695 cases of euthanasia, an increase of 18% over the previous year. The figure is double the number in 2006. There were 4 cases of medical negligence, according to the report. One is being investigated by the public prosecutor.

Date posted: 2012-10-08

Bioethics under attack in new book

The foundation myth of bioethics, the 'demi-discipline's' self-professed raison d'etre is at best inadequate if not demonstrably false.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Gene of the week: internet addiction

Everybody is talking about internet addiction - many people spend hours online and immediately start feeling bad if they are unable to do so.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Palestinian boy born from sperm smuggled out of Israeli prison

The wife of a Palestinian prisoner held in an Israeli jail has given birth to his son, even though she has not seen him for 15 years. Ammar Ziban, 37, smuggled his sperm to an IVF clinic in the West Bank where his wife Dalal was artificially inseminated.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

China appeals for sperm donors to counter infertility epidemic

China, a nation notorious for stifling fertility with its draconian one-child policy, is now worried about an epidemic of infertility.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

New first for Belgium: prisoner euthanasia

Another prisoner - been in jail for 27 years for two murders - has also asked for euthanasia. His request has not been approved yet.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

The US needs to debate targeted killing with drones

Are drones really compatible with "our traditions of rule of law and due process", as President Obama claims?

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Could British teachers be sacked for opposing gay marriage? Probably, says QC

Teachers and chaplains who openly oppose the UK's Government's redefinition of marriage face being disciplined, or sacked for their views if the law is changed, warns a top legal expert.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

US stem cell scientist punished for fraud

Stem cell research fraud continues, though not as spectacularly as in the lab of disgraced South Korean Hwang Woo-suk.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Sperm precursor cells created in lab

The moment when scientists will be able to create artificial sperm from a skin cell is drawing closer.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Is it better to be minimally conscious than vegetative?

There has been tremendous interest in the media about patients in a permanent vegetative state who had actually been in a minimally conscious state (MCS).

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Mind that gallows humour!

Palliative care physicians have to negotiate the shoals of misunderstanding and the reefs of fear in an emotionally demanding environment.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Is regret enough reason not to have an abortion?

The JME regards Greasley's long and detailed paper as "an original and important contribution" which helps to clarify issues in the on-going debate over the moral permissibility of abortion which she believes "substantially depends on what moral standing is rightly accorded to the fetus"

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Well done, Tassie. Well done!

Tasmania could become the first Australian state to legalise same-sex marriage. Is this just a smokescreen for its economic problems?

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Dutch debate euthanasia of their prince

Nearly six months ago Prince Friso, the son of Queen Beatrix, of the Netherlands, was buried in an avalanche while skiing in Austria. By the time he was rescued, he had already suffered severe brain damage.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Autism linked to older fathers

Two contemporary trends have been linked by a recent article in Nature: the rising age of first-time fathers and the increasing rate of autism.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Has reproductive technology made men redundant?

Men are becoming less and less relevant to reproduction and parenting, according to an op-ed in the New York Times.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Is prostitution harmful? Nope, says Journal of Medical Ethics

Among the hot topics in bioethics, prostitution does not rank highly. A quick search of the ETHXWeb bioethics database at Georgetown University yielded ten times as many articles on surrogacy than on prostitution, even though it could be argued that they are related.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Children born in US from 40-year-old sperm

The world record for a birth from frozen sperm has risen to 40 years, a Minneapolis company claims.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

New Zealand prime minister endorses euthanasia

The New Zealand prime minister has given legalised euthanasia a ringing personal endorsement.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Fiji says No to suicide clinic

Australian euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke seems to have jumped the gun by telling the media that the South Pacific island of Fiji was considering his plans for establishing a suicide clinic in the city of Nadi.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Why does the same-sex marriage debate seem so futile?

We won't make any progress unless we unpack some of the fundamental issues.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Locked in to euthanasia

Believe it or not, it is possible for people to find happiness in the strangest places - even quadriplegia.

Date posted: 2012-09-22

Is a male contraceptive on the way?

Mark Gill, of the Novartis Research Foundation in Switzerland, points out that there could have been developmental abnormalities unnoticed by the researchers or problems which develop later in life. Drug companies have stopped working on male contraceptives because it is too risky.

Date posted: 2012-09-18

Parents who await miraculous cures could be "torturing" their dying children, say UK doctors

"The authors pose the question: 'Should religious beliefs be allowed to stonewall a secular approach to withdrawing and withholding treatment in children?' It's a curious question. The legal and ethical orthodoxy is that no beliefs, religious or secular, should be allowed to stonewall the best interests of the child."

Date posted: 2012-09-07

US egg donation industry often ignores ethical standards, report claims

Many on-line human egg brokers do not adhere to ethical guidelines drawn up by the peak IVF body in the US, a survey published in the journal Fertility & Sterility has found. Some of the violations include failing to warn of the risks of the donating eggs and offering premiums for traits like good looks and good marks.

Date posted: 2012-09-07

Dangerous experiment in foetal engineering alleged

A new paper just published in theJournal of Bioethical Inquiry uses extensive Freedom of Information Act findings to detail troubling off-label prescription in the US on pregnant women to intentionally engineer the development of their fetuses for sex normalization purposes.

Date posted: 2012-09-07

The link between rented wombs and gay marriage

Supporters of same-sex marriage must recognise they face a serious moral dilemma. Cheap wombs might bring gay men the happiness of being the father of a child of their own. But the cost of that happiness is often borne by poor and uneducated women.

Date posted: 2012-08-21

Highly accurate non-invasive pre-natal test available "within 5 years"

Daunting ethical problems lie ahead. The test will be used extensively to abort children who have a genetic "problem".

Date posted: 2012-08-02

Why wait for death to remove kidneys from brain-damaged patients?

Life without kidneys is normally short, but Morrissey argues that the patient is so close to death that it is reasonable to assume that removal of the kidneys cannot be described as the cause of death.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

Surrogacy a US$2.3 billion industry in India, with 1,000 clinics

There are hospitals where women are kept for the whole nine months while they carry someone else's child. There are good stories, where the surrogate is well looked after, but I would like to make people aware of the sheer exploitation of it, the fact that these women are extremely poor.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

Oh no! Not again! Not another Korean stem cell fraud!

The latest incident is a painful reminder that one of the worst scientific frauds of the past century happened in the same field at the same university by another veterinary researcher.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

Head of GPs in UK takes stand against assisted dying

The president of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK, Iona Heath, has taken a strong stand against the legalisation of assisted suicide.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

An unknown unknown for gay marriage supporters

If we are in the middle of a culture war over gay marriage, why not take advice from someone who knows about combat, former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Long after he left the scene, people are still quoting his description of the fog of war: "[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know."

Date posted: 2012-08-02

"Love is the drug", from the Best Of Julian Savulescu

Two Oxford bioethicists have proposed a novel solution to the scourge of 50% divorce rates - use love drugs to keep the flame of love alive.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

A wish to die or a cry for help?

After synthesising a number of studies of patients who had asked for their death to be hasten, the Catalan researchers concluded that "Overall, the WTHD emerges as a phenomenon that does not necessarily imply the wish to die, and it appears as a response to an overwhelming emotional distress among patients in the advanced stages of disease."

Date posted: 2012-08-02

UK to allow lesbian couples equal access to IVF

Same-sex couples will have the same access to IVF treatment as heterosexual couples under guidelines issued by the UK's health advisory service.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

Are cognitive neuroenhancing drugs ethical? German ethicists say No

The near frontier of human enhancement is coffee on steroids: the drugs of the future that will make you smarter, sharper and quicker. Even now, a quarter of American students are said to use psychostimulants. About 5% of workers in Germany use pharmaceutical drugs to enhance their cognitive functions.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

Could geoengineering save the planet?

And who is thinking about the ethics of a technological quick fix?

Date posted: 2012-08-02

The kids are all right"? Think again

There have been no robust academic studies of gay parenting which prove that it is every bit as good as the traditional family.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

Synthetic biology could lead to disaster, says Oxford bioethicist

The biological revolution is at once exciting, even mesmerising, but terrifying. The genie is out of the bottle. Our challenge is to ethically master the machines we are creating. At present, they are relatively simple and benign. But synthetic biology offers the prospect of annihilating life as we know it.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

Scepticism about California's stem cell institute persists

The program is virtually immune to oversight by the Legislature or other elected officials. For these reasons and others, it has grappled with only mixed success with changes in stem cell science and politics that have called its original rationale into question.

Date posted: 2012-08-02

US Family Research Council video on same-sex marriage

I wish that makers of videos presenting "conservative" views would use less Wagnerian music. With that caveat, this video from the Family Research Council makes a good argument against the legalisation of same-sex marriage from a Protestant point of view.

Date posted: 2012-07-25

Is it better never to have been born?

The joys of bringing a child into the world are not persuasive for some contemporary philosophers.

Date posted: 2012-07-25

Barefoot and blind: the power of one

A disabled campaigner against China's one-child policy has outwitted the world's most powerful governments.

Date posted: 2012-06-02

Still soldiering on

Benedict XVI's analysis of the crisis of Western culture is outstanding in its depth and clarity.

Date posted: 2012-05-10

94 embryos perish in Rome hospital in refrigeration mishap

A briefing by the Health Department soon afterwards alleged that there were serious shortcomings in the hospital's procedures.

Date posted: 2012-05-10

Dementia could become a fiscal nightmare, says WHO

According to ADI research, the number of people living with dementia worldwide, estimated at 35.6 million in 2010, is set to nearly double every 20 years, reaching 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050.

Date posted: 2012-05-10

How voluntary is "voluntary"?

Very little research has been done on pressures that could be exerted on the elderly and disabled.

Date posted: 2012-05-10

Dark side of IVF makes an impact

The negative side of IVF birth defects may finally be getting some publicity. IVF clinics are aware that there is a higher incidence of birth defects among children conceived through IVF. However, consumer awareness is low.

Date posted: 2012-04-28

Oregon releases murky assisted suicide stats

Oregon's public health division has released statistics on deaths under its physician-assisted suicide (PAS)legislation. It shows a steady increase in the number of lethal prescriptions and in the number of deaths. In 1998, the first year after PAS was legalised, there were 24 prescriptions and 16 deaths. In 2011, there were 114 prescriptions and 71 deaths. A total of 935 people have had lethal prescriptions and 596 have died.

Date posted: 2012-04-10

Is one in five UK abortion clinics breaking the law?

Servile deference to abortion rights has led doctors to think that they are above the law.

Date posted: 2012-04-10

Bengladeshi organ trafficking revealed

A Michigan State University anthropologist from Bangladesh has published the first in-depth study describing the often horrific experiences of poor people who were victims of organ trafficking. Monir Moniruzzaman interviewed 33 kidney sellers in Bangladesh and found they typically didn't get the money they were promised and were plagued with serious health problems that prevented them from working, shame and depression.

Date posted: 2012-04-10

Even more weirdness

Despite the prestige that Singer and Savulescu and other utilitarians have, at least in the media, loopiness is hard-wired into their philosophy. A utilitarian bioethicist is always going to be a loose cannon, rolling wildly around the deck in ethical storms, splintering and smashing the fragile public image of his or her profession. If other bioethicists want to repair their dented prestige, shunning utilitarian colleagues would be a good place to start.

Date posted: 2012-04-10

Fallout continues from infanticide article

Unfortunately, the notoriety of "After-birth Abortion: Why should the baby live?" threatens to bring the whole profession into disrepute. If a conservative occupies the White House next year, it could even affect the composition of the presidential bioethics commission and government attitudes towards advice offered by bioethicists.

Date posted: 2012-04-10

A morality pill a day keeps the police at bay

Would a morality pill with a morning orange juice really turn everyone into Mother Teresa?

Date posted: 2012-04-10

Santorum sparks controversy over Dutch euthanasia

The government itself has acknowledged that many doctors ignore the law.... Nor are all euthanasia deaths voluntary. According to the Groningen Protocol, seriously ill infants may be euthanased with their parents' consent. This is not voluntary euthanasia. Demented patients and patients with psychiatric illnesses may be euthanased, even though their consent is clearly impaired.

Date posted: 2012-04-09

Have we reached a tipping point on abortion?

From 1917 to 1991, for more than 80 years, Russia was ruled by an ideology of oppression which paraded as a beacon of liberation. But within 40 years, the masquerade was over, even if the misery remained.

Date posted: 2012-04-02

Newspaper sting uncovers sex-selective abortion in UK

Some UK abortion clinics are falsifying paperwork so that they can carry out their clients' requests for sex-selective terminations. Undercover reporters for the London Telegraph accompanied pregnant women and taped doctors arranging an abortion after an unequivocal request to abort a child because it was of the wrong sex.

Date posted: 2012-04-02

American bioethics shaken by dispute over conflict of interest

Within the vast mansion of bioethics there is a small but very active group of purists in the basement policing the ethics of the pragmatists. The bone of contention is not philosophical but financial.

Date posted: 2012-04-02

Surrogacy is "reproductive prostitution", says Dutch expert

Once again Dutch legislators are organising a legal work-around for a procedure which is clearly illegal in the Netherlands. This time the issue is commercial surrogacy.

Date posted: 2012-04-02

A portrait of universal values

Women in burqas get a bum rap in the Western media. Photographers portray them as silent statues, pillars of salt in flowing black robes. Cartoonists ridicule them as creatures of silent menace carrying who knows what beneath their ample garments.

Date posted: 2012-04-02

Is cosmetic surgery "ethically corrupt"?

The flames of bioethical controversy crackle loudest in the media when stem cells or euthanasia or abortion are tossed onto the flames. But tempers can flare over cosmetic surgery as well.

Date posted: 2012-04-02

Fudging the figures on contraception

The White House says 98% of Catholic women have used contraceptives. Its own statistics do not support this. Politically speaking, President Obama is in a very strong position as he tries to force universal coverage for contraception, including sterilisation and the morning-after pill, upon employers. So why does his Administration have to tell porkies to bolster his case?

Date posted: 2012-04-01

Non, je ne regrette rien

It is now all but certain that human embryonic stem cells will not deliver cures to dread diseases. Apologies, anyone?

Date posted: 2012-02-14

At long last, Dutch doctors draw a line in the sand

Euthanasia is OK, but circumcising male babies is a bridge too far.

Date posted: 2012-02-14

Debating euthanasia in the home of the bean and the cod

Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion and an elder law attorney in Washington state, states: "The initiative's introduction declares that the process will be 'entirely voluntary' for the patient. The act, as written, does not deliver on this promise. The act is instead a recipe for elder abuse."

Date posted: 2012-02-14

Is the slippery slope at work in Belgium?

The "slippery slope" is often derided as a logical fallacy. But when one of the leading advocacy groups for euthanasia in Belgium posts an article entitled "Euthanasia, time for the next step", it's hard not to think that it may not be so illogical after all.

Date posted: 2012-02-14

Are 98% of UK abortions "technically illegal"?

The keenness of British journalists to score exclusives and to run down the last details of stories are legendary - or at least they are now, after the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Date posted: 2012-02-14

Is China harvesting organs from ethnic minorities?

China has admitted that it harvests organs from condemned prisoners, but very little information about the practice has emerged in the press. Executed prisoners are believed to account for two-thirds of all transplants, although the government apparently wants to promote a voluntary scheme.

Date posted: 2012-02-14

A mortal threat to marriage

Same sex marriage can only succeed in a society where traditional marriage is already weak.

Date posted: 2012-02-14

After 7 billion

The most serious problem a world of seven billion people faces is not too many people, but too high a proportion of old people. The social and political changes of demographic are not dramatic but day by day they are changing our world. This the real story behind the seven billion. And the scariest thing of all is that almost no one cares.

Date posted: 2011-11-05

A setback for embryonic stem cell research

A milestone case in the European Court of Justice may signal a new direction in campaigns against human embryo research.

Date posted: 2011-10-26

Where is the worst place in the world to be a doctor?

Could there be a worse place in the world to be a doctor than the Netherlands? Not because of the standard of its health care; it has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and one of the lowest infant mortality rates. But because the professional association of Dutch physicians has decreed that euthanasia is an integral part of a doctor's job.

Date posted: 2011-10-13

Arguments for all seasons

Arguments for tolerance of homosexuality work equally well for paedophilia.

Date posted: 2011-10-13

Dutch doctors solidly behind euthanasia: poll

Euthanasia is certainly on the agenda. In half of the doctors' practices, euthanasia is a topic which is increasingly discussed. About 65% had felt pressure from patients or relatives to perform euthanasia and about half of them said that there was pressure to do it quickly. About a third of them felt that the pressure had increased over the last five years.

Date posted: 2011-08-25

I swear by Apollo, the healer

The Hippocratic Oath is supposed to be the gold standard for integrity. But how effective has it been in the medical profession?

Date posted: 2011-08-25

Approach Frankenstein experiments gingerly, says UK report

Mixing human and animal material should be approached with great caution, says the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in a report issued yesterday. But it recommends that some highly controversial experiments should be allowed to proceed, including modifying an animal's brain to make it more human-like and the generation or propagation of functional human germ cells in animals.

Date posted: 2011-08-07

UK's fertility secrets

The peer was outraged at the legal, but apparently secretive, research: "I argued in Parliament against the creation of human-animal hybrids as a matter of principle. None of the scientists who appeared before us could give us any justification in terms of treatment. Ethically it can never be justifiable - it discredits us as a country. It is dabbling in the grotesque. At every stage the justification from scientists has been: if only you allow us to do this, we will find cures for every illness known to mankind. This is emotional blackmail. Of the 80 treatments and cures which have come about from stem cells, all have come from adult stem cells - not embryonic ones. On moral and ethical grounds this fails; and on scientific and medical ones too."

Date posted: 2011-08-05

Affirming Love, Avoiding AIDS

The best research shows that restraint and fidelity are the solutions to the devastating epidemic. But the bureaucrats aren't listening.

Date posted: 2011-07-14

Anything else on the menu?

With the legalisation of same-sex marriage, real marriage becomes just one of a range of legally-recognised options.

Date posted: 2011-07-08

Birthday blue

Are supporters of legalised euthanasia willing to listen to reason? Maybe not.

Date posted: 2011-07-05

More than their fair share

Most refugees flee to neighbouring countries to escape wars at home. It is the developing world which shoulders most of the burden of caring for them.

Date posted: 2011-06-25

Belgian doctors are using organs from euthanased patients

Using organs from euthanased patients seem to have become a well established procedure in Belgium, only nine years after it was legalized. A press release from a team at a hospital in Leuven announced last week that it had successfully transplanted lungs from four euthanased patients between 2007 and 2009.

Date posted: 2011-06-24

When animals count more than people

Treat animals with kindness, by all means. But don't forget about people.

Date posted: 2011-06-24

Battlefield bioethics

Is it ethical to kill fellow soldiers in wartime to ward off worse suffering? If that's confusing, how about wounded enemy soldiers?

Date posted: 2011-06-24

Russian Orthodox church speaks out on euthanasia

It's easy to imagine a situation where pressure would be put on patients, who are not economically profitable, in order to persuade them to end their life. Such pressure is absolutely immoral. But there have been voices who were actually calling for such pressure.

Date posted: 2011-06-20

Have we really exorcised eugenics from genetics?

The linkage between genetics and eugenics is an oft-told story, but it bears repeating again and again.

Date posted: 2011-06-04

With so much shopping to do, who has time for kids?

Demography is a science of many facts but surprisingly little accuracy. In the 1960s and 1970s demographers worried about the dangers of over-population. Spaceship Earth was going to be so crowded with people that it would surely crash without some form of population control. What actually happened? Today we face an ageing crisis - there is a dearth of young people in most developed countries.

Date posted: 2011-05-20

It feels kinda weird

It is absurdly exaggerated to claim, as the President did in his speech, that "today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people". It was certainly a testament to the skill of the American military. But surely greatness is more than nailing a fugitive. Genuine greatness of spirit lies in following up victory with magnanimity and wisdom.

Date posted: 2011-05-14

India's appalling sex ratio worsens

The latest figures show that India's child sex ratio is getting even worse. The normal ratio for children between 0 and 6 is about 950 girls to 1000 boys. However, early returns for the 2011 census show that the number of girls to 1,000 boys has shrunk to 914 girls to every 1000 boys, down from 927 in 2001.

Date posted: 2011-04-18

Battlefield bioethics

Is it ethical to kill fellow soldiers in wartime to ward off worse suffering? If that's confusing, how about wounded enemy soldiers?

Date posted: 2011-04-04

Half of Austrian medical students favour euthanasia

The proportion of medical students in Austria who are sympathetic to voluntary euthanasia has more than tripled in the past ten years. According to researchers at the Medical University of Graz acceptance of active euthanasia increased from 16.3% to 29.1% to 49.5% in the periods from 2001 to 2003/04 to 2008/09. In the general population it rose from about 49% to 62% between 2000 and 2009.

Date posted: 2011-04-02

Who is a real bioethicist?

"Bioethics is a field that is always evolving because it exists in relation to newly emerging moral questions in society," says Stanford bioethicist Laura Roberts. "The field itself struggles we are always trying to make sense of things and to understand and resolve complex issues in ways that rely on more than mere intuition."

Date posted: 2011-03-27

7 billion people and what lies ahead

Here is a brief video with excellent graphics from The Economist about the arrival of the world's 7 billionth person. I don't share its rather woolly optimism about the future, but in 2 minutes and 21 seconds you can't communicate everything.

Date posted: 2011-03-25

Why them?

Editorial writers break out into a cold sweat when natural disasters strike. And a tsunami is a nightmare. What can be said to soothe the anguish? What can dull the shock at this reminder of our fragile purchase on life? Words fray and crumble. In fact, most major papers avoided the challenge.

Date posted: 2011-03-15

Three ways of dying

This is about three women and death: one is Indian, one is Rwandan, and one is American. They come from very different cultures and they are dealing with the end of life in very different ways. One of them is particularly sorrowful -- but it is the shame that hurts, not the pain.

Date posted: 2011-03-08

Rehabilitating eugenics

Increasingly, people believe that their fates are written in their genes.

Date posted: 2011-03-05

The world's most famous euthanasia activist is thinking about moving into stand-up comedy.

Jim Carrey. Ricky Gervais. Adam Sandler. Steve Martin. All well-known funny men. Well, move over, guys. Philip Nitschke, the Australian doctor who is the world's best-known euthanasia activist, is considering a career shift.

Date posted: 2011-03-02

French Senate rejects euthanasia

After a passionate debate the French Senate has scuppered a bill allowing physician-assisted suicide. The margin was convincing - 170 to 142.

Date posted: 2011-02-15

Dutch activists planning euthanasia clinic

The Dutch voluntary euthanasia society (NVVE) is planning to open an eight-person clinic in 2012 where people can go to end their lives. It estimates that about 1,000 people a year would take advantage of its facilities. It would cater for people whose doctors have refused to euthanase them.

Date posted: 2011-02-14

The pain of anonymous parentage

It had to happen sooner or later: a forum for people born from reproductive technologies, especially donor eggs and sperm. There are many forums where IVF mums can swap stories about their pregnancies, but none about the mums' children. Until now.

Date posted: 2011-02-13

Belgian doctors harvest high quality organs from euthanased patients

A group of Belgian doctors are harvesting "high quality" organs from patients who have been euthanased. This is not a secret project, but one which they described openly at a conference organised by the Belgian Royal Medical Academy in December.

Date posted: 2011-02-12

The ageing rock star of ethics, Peter Singer, is still playing the same taboo-smashing tunes.

The Jerry Springer of modern philosophy was in good form when he addressed a packed crowd this week in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney.

Date posted: 2011-02-10

Oh well, people die

First, sit down. If you are sitting down, take a deep breath. Because all this did not happen in a slum in Phnom Penh, or Sao Paulo, or Kinshasa. It happened in the United States, in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation. This is about politicians in one of America's largest states who didn't want to rock the boat. This is about a cowardly bureaucracy in a city renowned for world-class doctors and hospitals. This is about doctors who refused to report one of their own. A horrifying report from Philadelphia's district attorney ought to be abortion's Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Date posted: 2011-01-25

Bad karma in Bangkok

Aborted foetuses piled up in a temple mortuary raise questions about Thailand's embrace of family planning.

Date posted: 2011-01-18

Can you really kill out of mercy?

We must not minimize the stress of caring for invalids, especially without help from family members or governments. It can exhaust and demoralise even a loving spouse. It is an indictment of a society that allows people to bear a burden like this without help. But making a plan to kill a sick relative is still murder. What else could it be?

Date posted: 2011-01-16

Has society failed US quadriplegic?

A man who has been a quadriplegic since he was 3 is the latest focus of right-to-die news in the US. For about 18 months Dan Crews, 27, of Antioch, Illinois, has demanded that his ventilator be removed. But his local hospital has refused. Doctors say that he is depressed and is not capable of making an informed decision.

Date posted: 2011-01-04

Netherlands marks ten years of legal euthanasia

The tenth anniversary of the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands on November 28 passed almost unnoticed. It was the first country in the world to set down legal guidelines which allowed doctors to kill people.

Date posted: 2011-01-02

Most medical research is wrong? Are you kidding?

No. In fact, the leading figure in medical statistics says plainly, "most claimed research findings are false".

Date posted: 2010-12-25

Breach of trust

Morality is a tricky business. Experts are held to a higher standard of probity. That's why church sex abuse scandals and the double lives of some televangelists have done such damage to the cause of religious morality. Perhaps, too, this is why academic misconduct by one of the leading exponents of the "new science of morality" has rattled scientists and bioethicists.

Date posted: 2010-10-01

Hard questions: 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died

There are many questions about the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, but surely the most important is: was it a just war? This was the question when the war began and it is still the question now. How can we move on without confronting it squarely and honestly? ... The website Iraqi Body Count estimates that between 97,700 and 106,600 Iraqi civilians have died violent deaths since 2003. ... These numbers are almost impossible for us to grasp in comfortable countries like the US and Australia.

Date posted: 2010-09-16

Federal embryonic stem cell research funding stopped by black-letter judge

In the great tradition of American litigation, will the fate of human embryonic stem cell research be decided in the courts? Earlier this week, US District Judge Royce Lamberth granted an injunction banning Federal funding for the research. This overturns not only President Barack Obama's relatively liberal guidelines for research on embryonic stem cells, but also President George W. Bush's more restrictive ones.

Date posted: 2010-09-14

Australia's Greenslide

Same-sex marriage is back on the agenda now that social radicals have the balance of power.

Date posted: 2010-09-13

Upsetting the stem cell applecart

Have two US presidents and a raft of agencies been misinterpreting a federal law for nearly ten years? A judge says Yes.

Date posted: 2010-09-11

Credentialism triumphs over democracy

A Federal Court judge has struck down California's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Date posted: 2010-08-17

The dark side of American exceptionalism

Why is 1 in 18 men in the world's richest nation on probation, on parole or in jail?

Date posted: 2010-08-03

Orphaned at Conception

Is it high-tech child abuse to rob children of their biological heritage?

Date posted: 2010-07-03

Liar, liar, brain on fire!

The prosecutor successfully argued that BEOS (Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature test) analysis proved that she clearly had "experiential knowledge" of the murder. In other words, certain sections of Ms Sharma's brain would not have lit up unless she had actually participated in the crime. Even if it seemed like a leap of faith in an unfamiliar technology, Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi stated that the expertise of the BEOS operator "can in no way be challenged". He sentenced the young woman to life imprisonment.

Date posted: 2010-06-27

Is just a little bit of female genital mutilation OK?

This is more or less what happened last week when the bioethics committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its long-standing opposition to female genital mutilation. Up to now, the AAP's position was simple: never. In the United States, as in many other countries, opposition has been reinforced with legislation. One American father has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for cutting his two-year-old daughter.

Date posted: 2010-06-05

Plastinated people

Human dignity is a motherhood concept like freedom of speech or the brotherhood of man. It's great for padding out politicians' speeches. But what happens when it conflicts with another motherhood concept, autonomy, the ability to make free and independent decisions?

Date posted: 2010-04-25

Putting gendercide on the front page

It has taken 20 years, but gendercide has finally made the front page of The Economist. Back in 1990, Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen wrote an astonishing article in the New York Review of Books claiming that 100 million girls had been aborted because of son-preference. This was happening mostly in China and India, but also in other Asian countries.

Date posted: 2010-03-29

Searching for meaning in disaster

Is there a meaning to Haiti? 200,000 dead; 1.5 million homeless; the chaos of looting and raping, hunger, thirst, disease. The randomness of the deaths -- children, an archbishop, a head of United Nations operations, slum dwellers, police. The Haitians were already living in one of the poorest, worst governed nations in the world. Now they have to struggle with the worst humanitarian disaster ever faced by the UN. Why?

Date posted: 2010-03-05

"There will be casualties"

Euthanasia activists in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands have lost touch with reality.

Date posted: 2010-02-22

Is death better than disability?

Whom better to ask than the disabled? They give some surprising answers. ... Suzanne McDermott, of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, writes that she changed her own mind after studying the issue. At first she believed that assisted suicide was solely a personal autonomy issue. But eventually she was persuaded that it is at the heart of the movement for disability rights: Almost all people at the end of life can be included in the definition of 'disability'. Thus, the practice of assisted suicide results in death for people with disabilities.

Date posted: 2010-02-09

Terminating Korea's abortion culture

A Korean gynaecologist explains why he abandoned a lucrative procedure and is campaigning to reduce abortions. South Korea has one of the highest rates of abortion in the world, even though abortion is technically illegal there except in a few rare circumstances. According to official government figures, there are 340,000 abortions each year, although one parliamentarian has estimated that there may be as many as 1.5 million. At the same time, Korea's birth rate is the second-lowest in the world -- 1.19 births per woman -- and some Koreans fear that their very survival as a nation is in doubt.

Date posted: 2010-02-06

Searching for meaning in disaster

Is there a meaning to Haiti? 200,000 dead; 1.5 million homeless; the chaos of looting and raping, hunger, thirst, disease. The randomness of the deaths -- children, an archbishop, a head of United Nations operations, slum dwellers, police. The Haitians were already living in one of the poorest, worst governed nations in the world. Now they have to struggle with the worst humanitarian disaster ever faced by the UN. Why?

Date posted: 2010-01-19

A breathless moment in the history of reproductive rights

The population control lobby is far from dead. There still are highly influential academics who fervently believe that increasing aid for population control (aka reproductive rights, women's health, safe and legal abortion) is absolutely necessary. Without it, the world will turn into an over-heated, war-torn slum heaped with festering mountains of garbage. This is the message that comes through loud and clear in a special issue of an influential British journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, called The Impact of Population Growth on Tomorrow's World.

Date posted: 2009-11-24

The Economist swings around on population

The message is finally getting through: the population bomb has fizzled out and fertility is falling nearly everywhere in the world.

Date posted: 2009-11-24

Endangered species

Current studies show that 92 percent of women who receive a definitive prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies. As a consequence Down Syndrome children are vanishing. In Ireland, where abortion is not an option, the sight of a DS person on the street is far more common.

Date posted: 2009-11-11