L. J. Goody Bioehtics Centre
News Summary
20 Mar 2014 : Three-parent embryos on the way in UK
While the US Food and Drug Administration examines the possibility of allowing “three-parent embryos” to fight some lethal mitochondrial diseases, the UK has decided to press ahead. This week the government launched a consultation on how to regulate the technique. , more.
19 Mar 2014 : US also considering three-parent embryos for mitochondrial disease
The same issue is under consideration in the USA, where at least one researcher is building a formidable reputation for his work in mitochondrial dna, the small proportion on human dna that powers the life of every cell. , more.
18 Mar 2014 : UK Doctors renew opposition to euthanasia
After an extensive consultation of its members the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in the UK will continue to oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia. , more.
16 Jan 2014 : Three stories of IVF: 1 The Sperm Harvest
To begin the New Year let's look at three unrelated stories about IVF. The first deals with a topic much debated here in Western Australia, the posthumous collection of gametes for reproductive purposes. Several Supreme Court orders recently could lead to the conception of children years after the death of their 'fathers'. Each case has been decided in line with the adults' wishes, but no-one has given a thought to the ethics of this process or to the best interests of the children. Is it really OK to facilitate a child's conception in these circumstances? The author of this piece does not think so , more.
15 Jan 2014 : 2 Birth Complications More Likely with IVF
A South Australian study seems to have found potentially alarming rates of complication in births following IVF treatment: twice the rate of prematurity, twice the rate of neonatal death, and some interesting differences between IVF and ICSI. But others quite properly wonder whether these complications are due to the technology used, or the underlying causes of infertility , more.
14 Jan 2014 : 3 IVF Clinic Swaps Sperm
Another horror story for parents: their baby is not all theirs. Somehow a fertility clinic worker's sperm was used instead of the husband's sperm. Talk about getting wrapped up in your work! , more.
11 Dec 2013 :
.
10 Dec 2013 :
.
20 Aug 2013 : Natural conception after IVF
One in three women who have their first baby through infertility treatment, become pregnant again naturally within two years of their first birth, a new study has found. A Monash University study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, was the first to examine the rates of unexpected conception in Australian women who had a first child through assisted reproductive technology (ART). , more.
19 Aug 2013 : Posthumous collection of gametes - going viral?
Several Australian courts have granted permission for gametes to be collected from deceased men for reproductive purposes, despite serious ethical concerns based on lack of consent and the interests of children so conceived. Now the UK court system has fallen into the same trap. Interestingly the print media in that country can see the ethical problem very clearly - unlike our Australian media who can only see the 'human interest story'. , more.
16 Aug 2013 : First human trials for induced pluripotent stem cells
After years of debate over the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, the world's first human trials of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) is about to begin in Japan. IPSCs are adult somatic cells which have been reprogrammed to behave like early-stage stem cells have the potential to develop into many different kinds of cells. Because they are taken from the patient in the first place, these cells enjoy a dual advantage over embryonic cells: they do not require the destruction of human emnbryos, and they are less likely to be rejected by the patient's body. In the proposed trial, iPSCs will be developed to treat macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness in older people. , more.
14 Jun 2013 : The status of human embryos : lawyer's absurd proposal
Professor Jenni Millbank from the University of Technology Sydney suggests that laws regulating the storage and use of excess IVF embryos should remain silent on the objective status of embryos, preferring instead to let each IVF consumer decide on their ultimate disposition. This sounds like the ultimate buck-pass: is the law really so unable or unwilling to settle such an important question? , more.
13 Jun 2013 : Beware unreliable data on same-sex families
A Melbourne-based academic recently issued an 'interim report' on the question of same-sex families, but other academics ask how reliable such a report can be if it has not been peer-reviewed. , more.
12 Jun 2013 : Queering education - a worrying ethical issue
One commentator is worried about the ethics of schools 'enforcing' the idea of same-sex relationships as normative: "The logic works like this: If homosexual acts are moral, as so many now insist, then they should be normative. If they are normative, they should be taught in our schools as a standard. If they are a standard, they should be enforced. And so it has come, and is coming, to be. Education is an essential part of the drive to universalize the rationalization for homosexual behavior; so it must become a mandatory part of the curriculum. What began as a plea for diversity ends with a demand for conformity. , more.
24 Apr 2013 : Leading debate on physician-assisted suicide (and euthanasia)
It is not often that the vexed question of euthanasia is debated in a balanced, respectful and authoritative way, which makes this article from the New England Journal of Medicine quite unique. Drs. Margaret Somerville and Nikola Biller-Andorno here offer different takes on a case study, followed by some very enlightening comments from readers. One of the better contributions to the ongoing debate . . . , more.
23 Apr 2013 : Irish mother's death ruled 'medical misadventure'
The jury in the inquest into a woman who died in hospital in Ireland four days after suffering a miscarriage has given a verdict of medical misadventure. Savita Halappanavar, 31, died in University Hospital Galway last October. Her family claimed she might have survived if she had been given an abortion. , more.
22 Apr 2013 : Ethical aspects of giving children information about their donor conception
The respected English bioethics centre, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, has recently published its research and recommendations on the question of giving children information that they were donor-conceived. The report considers the interests of people affected by donor conception - donor-conceived people, parents, donors, and all their wider family and social networks – and makes recommendations about what can be done to support, encourage and empower those making decisions about the sharing of information. The Report can be accessed here via th Nuffield Council's homepage (see buttons on RHS), which also gives access to previous studies by the Council. , more.
27 Feb 2013 : Better Prenatal Testing Does Not Mean More Abortion
Currently somewhere between 70 and 85 percent of women in the United States with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose abortion. But even though prenatal testing has advanced in accuracy and availability, the number of women who aborted used to be higher. Perhaps more women are using prenatal testing for the purpose of preparation -- medically and emotionally -- rather than as a route towards termination. , more.
15 Feb 2013 : Is Tasmania being led astray by lightweight politicians?
Tasmania could become the first Australian State to legalise some form of euthanasia if the State election later this year shakes out as expected. Despite a number of scholarly critiques of current euthanasia regimes around the world, the Apple Isle's politicians have opted to listen only to reports that suit them. Logical and empirical arguments are ignored; only the political imperative really matters, and the cost will be incalculable: Tasmiania will lead in Australia's current 'race to the bottom' in respect for human life. , more.
15 Feb 2013 : Consciousness in a vegetative state? A landmark paper is challenged
US researchers have questioned the results of a landmark study in The Lancet from 2011 on awareness of "vegetative" patients. That study involved performing EEG scans on 16 patients. The scans apparently showed awareness in three patients when they were given audible commands. The researchers concluded that that some vegetative patients may be aware of their surroundings. This shook neuroscientific assumptions about the "vegetative" state. However, a subsequent paper in The Lancet has challenged this picture. , more.
15 Feb 2013 : Another blow to IVF donor anonymity
A regional appeals court in Hamm, Germany has ruled that a 22-year-old woman conceived via an anonymous sperm donor has a legal right to find out the identity of her biological father. Named only as Sarah P, the court considered that the woman's right to know her biological father's identity took priority over the confidentiality awarded to the donor. , more.
26 Jan 2013 : Amour: does old age have any honour left?
Margaret Somerville reviews a new French film which some have used as an argument for euthanasia. Somerville, in her typically incisive way, unfolds much deeper and more worrying levels to the film: a searching expose of a society grown shallow and heartless. In her eyes this film is, in fact, a powerful argument against euthanasia , more.
25 Jan 2013 : Six lessons from death in Belgium
Still on the subject of euthanasia, Michael Cook here ponders the significance of a landmark event in which twin Belgian men were euthanased just before Christmas because they felt their shared life was becoming unbearable. As Cook says, 'there was something inhumanly cold about a society which failed these simple men when they could see and killed them when they couldn’t.' , more.
25 Jan 2013 : The parenting trap
In a judgement that apparently sets 'social parenting' above 'biological parenting', a man has been ordered to pay child support to his ex-wife for two children conceived through a sperm donor and born during the marriage. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the children were 'children of marriage', despite not being biologically related to the man. , more.
09 Jan 2013 : Welcome to 2013!
The New Year has begun quietly so far, perhaps due to Western Australia's extraordinary heat wave - average maximum temperatures since Christmas have been in the high thirties and low forties celsius. We're hoping for a cooler year on the bioethics front, and we hope your 2013 is likewise filled with peace and joy. .
08 Jan 2013 : Belgium looks at euthanasia for minors, Alzheimer's sufferers
BioEdge's Michael Cook reports that Belgium could allow euthanasia for people under 18 if new proposals by the Socialist Party are approved. The law would also allow patients with Alzheimer's to be euthanased. Neighbouring Netherlands already allows both categories of people to die in this fashion, although in the game of euthanasia one-upmanship Belgium has scored goals of its own: euthanasia for prisoners and euthanasia for organ donation. "The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to," party leader Thierry Giet explained. The bill would be extended to minors "if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate." , more.
07 Jan 2013 : Posthumous sperm collection allowed yet again in Western Australia
For at least the fifth time in recent years, the Western Australian Supreme Court has issued an order allowing a woman to retrieve sperm from her deceased partner with a view to using it in future to conceive children. The orders, made under WA's Human Tissue and Transplant Act, have created something of a legal dilemma in the State because another piece of legislation, the Human Reproductive Technology Act, specifically prohibits the storage of gametes without the express consent of the donor, which usually means consent in writing. The same Act prohibits any use of donated gametes for reproductive purposes once the donor has died. How will this problem play out? Watch this space! Meanwhile, here is an e-article on the case. At the bottom of the text, notice how different newspapers headline the story to create more interest! , more.
18 Dec 2012 : Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year!
The Director and Staff wish you every grace and blessing during the Christmas season, and a peaceful beginning to 2013. The L J Goody Bioethics Centre will be closed over the festive season, reopening on 3 January 2013. .
17 Dec 2012 : Commercial surrogacy: an answer or another problem?
Should Australia permit surrogacy on a commercial basis? Federal Court Chief Magistrate John Pascoe thinks so, as a way of reducing exploitation of foreign women. Each year many Australians go off-shore to buy into surrogacy arrangements which take advantage of poor women, and which often leave the children so created in legal limbo. But would allowing commercial surrogacy here increase the potential for exploitation in this country? , more.
17 Dec 2012 : Weighing up your options: the impact of weight and nutrition on IVF
Rachel Lyons reports on a recent conference in London that looked at the role of BMI and diet on the success of IVF treatments and on fetal health. The connection between obesity and infertility is well known, with some practitioners holding that in some cases IVF is unnecessary if parents just return to healthy BMI, but did you know that a woman who maintains healthy weight during pregnancy also improves the fertility of her child later in its life? , more.
29 Nov 2012 : Irish Bishops confirm Catholic stance in problematic pregnancies
Following the tragic death of a young mother and her unborn child, Ireland's Catholic bishops have sought to clarify church teaching on the need for medical intervention to save the life of a mother, insisting that the Catholic Church has never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of a mother. , more.
20 Nov 2012 : Physician-assisted suicide is not progressive
The recent US Presidential election was accompanied in some states by referendums on many issues. In Massachusetts physician assisted suicide was on the agenda but, against all predictions, that state chose not to pursue this option. Before the vote, physician Ira Byock wrote: "America is failing people who are facing the end of life and those who love and care for them. Giving licensed physicians the authority to write lethal prescriptions is not a progressive thing to do." , more.
20 Nov 2012 : Unlocking the 'locked in': new insight into post-coma unresponsive state
For more than a decade, Scott Routley remained in what doctors considered a vegetative state, awake but unable to move a muscle and seemingly unaware of life around him after the car crash that severely damaged his brain. Then this spring a British neuroscientist conducted a remarkable experiment during which he says he was able to communicate with the London, Ont., resident, asking if Mr. Routley was feeling any pain. The answer, conveyed through brain activity detected on sophisticated MRI scans, was a reassuring “No.” , more.
20 Nov 2012 : Donor stem cells as safe and effective as patient's own in heart attack trial
Yet more evidence of the value of adult stem cells: heart muscle stem cells obtained from donors have been used in clinical trials to effectively treat damage caused by heart attacks. The trial found that donor stem cells were 'just as safe' as stem cells derived from the person being treated. Results also suggest that, because they can be prepared in advance, the use of donated stem cells could mean some patients start treatment sooner. , more.
05 Nov 2012 : Evicting the body-squatters: a case against euthanasia
Shakira Hussein, a McKenzie postdoctoral fellow at Melbourne University's Asia Institute and a sufferer of multiple sclerosis, argues that legislating to allow euthanasia effectively makes the State the official regulator of a practice which should, in justice, remain completely unregulated: suicide. , more.
02 Nov 2012 : Suicide by Choice? Not So Fast
"I’ve lived so close to death for so long that I know how thin and porous the border between coercion and free choice is, how easy it is for someone to inadvertently influence you to feel devalued and hopeless — to pressure you ever so slightly but decidedly into being “reasonable,” to unburdening others, to “letting go.” The author, a 50-year-old American suffering from spinal muscular atrophy, offers an insider's view of the euthanasia/assisted suicide debate , more.
02 Nov 2012 : Donor-conception: to tell or not to tell ?
Another confusing take on the definition of 'parent': if a donor-conceived child has a right to make contact with the donor later in life, does the donor's other (natural) children have a reciprocal right to know about their half-sibling? If the donor doesn't tell his natural children about the half-sibling, what does that do to trust within the family? But if he does tell them, and the donor-conceived child does not make later contact, will the natural children be left wondering? , more.
02 Nov 2012 : Surrogacy and motherhood : can we learn from Islam?
As the practice of surrogacy throws into question the definition of 'motherhood', a contorted legal case in Islamabad has captured our attention. When a surrogacy arrangement went sour after the birth of a child, the birth mother claimed to have been married to the arranged father and, on that basis, the child is indeed hers. Of interest is the way the Qu'ran defines motherhood , more.
19 Oct 2012 : Queens Woman Decides to Reject Euthanasia and Remain on Life Support
A terminally ill Queens woman who won a court battle against her parents to allow a hospital to disconnect a breathing tube has decided that she wants to live out the rest of her life. That decision represents a striking change in direction for SungEun Grace Lee, 28, a bank financial manager who is now paralyzed from the neck down and forced to communicate by blinking — once for yes, twice for no — or by mouthing words. , more.
19 Oct 2012 : HPV Vaccine Doesn’t Alter Sexual Behavior, Study Finds
Since public health officials in the USA began recommending in 2006 that young women be routinely vaccinated against HPV, many parents have hesitated over fears that doing so might give their children license to have sex. But research published recently in the journal Pediatrics may help ease those fears. , more.
18 Oct 2012 : Nobel Victory for Ethical Stem-Cell Researchers
In 2006 Professor Shinya Yamanaka identified four genes that are responsible for keeping human somatic cells in a pluripotent state and used them to revert fibroblasts (a type of skin cell) from an adult mouse into an embryonic-like state. Every scientist who works in the stem cell field had no doubt that Yamanaka would eventually win the Nobel prize. , more.
16 Oct 2012 : Euthanasia is out of control in the Netherlands
The media in the Netherlands reported last month that the number of reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands in 2011 increased by 18% to 3695 and there were 13 reported psychiatric patients who died by euthanasia, up from 2 reported psychiatric euthanasia deaths in 2010. , more.
05 Oct 2012 : Whose sperm is it anyway?
A woman whose husband became a sperm donor without her knowledge is seeking to change British law. Her claim is that a husband's sperm constitutes a 'marital asset', over which a wife should have some legally enforcable rights. Currently, there is no legal requirement for a spouse to consent to her partner's sperm donation. But perhaps there should be? , more.
04 Oct 2012 : Why Most Biomedical Findings Echoed by Newspapers Turn Out to be False
After the Great Stem Cell Debate, this will surprise no one, but headlines are meant to sell newspapers, not to tell the truth. Coverage of biomedical research leans heavily toward reports of initial findings, which are frequently attenuated or refuted by later studies, according to a report in the open access journal PLOS ONE. This leads to disproportionate media coverage of early results. The headline for the journal article says it all: "Why Most Biomedical Findings Echoed by Newspapers Turn Out to be False". , more.
22 Aug 2012 : UK euthanasia cases settled, and the answer is 'No'
A man paralysed from the neck down has lost his High Court case to allow doctors to end his life without fear of prosecution. The case went further than previous challenges to laws on assisted suicide, but failed because it would have required major changes to laws on murder. , more.
09 Aug 2012 : New test is a temporary medical breakthrough, but a permanent ethical problem
Microarray testing, formally known as array comparative genomic hybridization, is a new technique in prenatal diagnosis that still requires invasive procedures. The future may lie in non-invasive tests like parental DNA screening, but the ethical problems remain. , more.
06 Aug 2012 : Cooperation thesis online
The Director's doctoral thesis recently passed the 1000-download milestone, evidence of ongoing concern about cooperative ventures between Catholic and non-Catholic organisations. The full text of the dissertation, "Material Cooperation and Catholic Institutions : An inquiry into a traditional moral principle and its meaning for Catholic institutions today, with reference to Catholic hospitals in Australia", can be viewed , more.
06 Aug 2012 : Journal makes startling claims about IVF safety
"In 1978, the first child conceived by IVF was born. In the following 33 years, numerous technologies and techniques have been developed ... However, these techniques have rarely been robustly tested and approved before they are routinely offered to infertile couples. In other cases, a development in our scientific understanding of a technique has failed to be quickly incorporated into clinical changes. This raises the concern that some of the techniques offered to some patients offer little or no benefit, and in the worse cases is not confirmed to be safe." , more.
26 Jul 2012 : Spot the odd one out: The missing place at the donor conception table
The UK's HFEA recently announced membership of its newly formed National Donation Strategy Group. However, it has decided that among the 'experts' it considers appropriate to have on board for their personal experience, only donors and donor conception parents need be included. Donor-conceived people have not been invited – and neither have professionals with core experience of working with parents, families, children or adults post treatment , more.
11 Jul 2012 : The right to know those who gave us life
Here is how Margaret Somerville tackles one of today's most complex ethical problems: "Since reproductive technologies came on the scene, as both individuals and societies, we’ve faced issues unprecedented in human history with respect to children’s parentage and family structure. . . . The vast majority of us want to know through whom life travelled to us and, at the least, to “put a face” to those people. To intentionally destroy a person’s ability to know that – intentionally to make them “genetic orphans” and especially for society to be complicit in doing so – is ethically wrong." , more.
09 Jul 2012 : Genetic screening of unborn babies 'may be inaccurate'
New tests for genetic screening of unborn babies will not be 100 per cent accurate and may scare parents into believing their children will be born with a disability when they are healthy, Lord Robert Winston warns. Genetic tests, like all screening tests, have an inbuilt degree of inaccuracy which all users - especially expectant mothers - must understand if their consent to such tests is to be ethically defensible. So the question remains: does anyone give vaild consent to prenatal screening tests? , more.
05 Jul 2012 : St John of God Midland Hospitals
A new website offers updated information on progress in building the new St John of God Midland Public Hospital and the St John of God Midland Private Hospital. Access the site here , more.
05 Jul 2012 : BMA again rejects assisted suicide
The British Medical Association has once again rejected moves by some members to shift its stance on physician-assisted suicide. In an interesting counterpoint, some delegates argued that assisting suicide should be permitted because some patients end their lives in "terrible suffering", while a senior physician said that in forty years' practice he had "always felt I have been able, in almost every occasion, to support my patients when they were dying without having to actively end their lives." , more.
05 Apr 2012 : Donor-conceived children have the right to know, says Govt committee
In a long-awaited report the Victorian Law Reform Committee has determined that "the right of a donor-conceived person to have access to identifying information about his or her donor is paramount. The Committee therefore recommends that the Victorian Government introduce legislation to allow all donor-conceived people to obtain identifying information about their donors." The full report is available here , more.
04 Apr 2012 : Intergenerational sperm donation is a risk to child's well-being
How far should clinics go to facilitate a couple's desire to have a child? Those of us working in reproductive technology see new permutations of relationships almost every day, but perhaps Holland has (yet again) gone too far in allowing a father to donate sperm so that his son can have a child - which would make him the father of his own grandchild. Too bizarre? , more.
03 Apr 2012 : Canadian report on euthanasia 'biased', says expert
Although two-thirds of respondents opposed the introduction of euthanasia, a Quebec National Assembly committee has recommended that that province should allow doctors to kill patients on request. No wonder Australian-born ethicist Margaret Somerville has strong doubts about the committee's objectivity! , more.
23 Mar 2012 : Locked-in case to go to court in UK
A UK man suffering 'locked-in' syndrome has won the right to have his 'right to die' case heard in court. As proponents and opponents of euthanasia line up for front-row seats, one commentator simply repeated the age-old legal adage as a warning against change: 'Hard cases make bad laws.' , more.
22 Mar 2012 : Gay sperm-donor & lesbian mother battle over child
The Court of Appeal in London has ruled unanimously that a gay man who fathered a child for a lesbian couple is not a secondary parent, allowing him greater access to his two-year-old son. As the judge who granted permission to appeal wrote, the case raises 'important issues relating to the courts' approach to children born into "alternative families" and the relationship of such children with their fathers'. , more.
21 Mar 2012 : A win for pharmacists on conscientious objection
Rules designed 'to force religiously motivated pharmacists to dispense morning after pills' have come unstuck in the United States, where a long-running court battle was recently decided in favour of a pharmacist's right to follow his or her personal conscience. , more.
06 Mar 2012 : Abortion? Infanticide? Why all the fuss?
Two academic ethicists propose that post-birth abortion (or infanticide, as we normally call it) is as morally defensible as abortion itself, so why not allow it? The international outrage at this suggestion has been overwhelming, yet they do have a point: a society that permits killing babies before birth needs good reasons not to allow kiliing babies after birth. Australian-born lawyer and ethicist Margaret Somerville brings her usual clarity to the latest ethical imbroglio , more.
05 Mar 2012 : Questions asked about euthanasia for brain-damaged Dutch prince
Dutch Prince Johan Friso, brain-damaged after being buried by an avalanche in Austria last month, has been transferred to Wellington Hospital, in London. Doctors believe that the 43-year-old is unlikely to recover consciousness, although will be weeks before they have a clear idea of his prospects. But can the Netherlands, with its passionate attachment to euthanasia, offer the Prince any real hope? , more.
04 Mar 2012 : Assisted suicide numbers up in 2011
The number of people who ended their lives with the help of assisted suicide organisations increased significantly in 2011, according to new figures. Exit, which caters for Swiss residents only, revealed on Monday it helped a total of 416 people to end their lives last year. , more.
10 Feb 2012 : Gender selection and the politics of abortion
Pro-choice advocates used to oppose sex-selection abortions, but some have changed their position because they do not want to endorse the legitimacy of any restriction on abortion. The absence of any restrictions not only makes abortion more accessible, it sends a message and establishes a cultural value that having an abortion is "no big deal," as one woman expressed it, which is consistent with pro-choice ideology , more.
06 Feb 2012 : Europe bans euthanasia - in theory
On January 25, 2012, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a Resolution stating that “euthanasia must always be prohibited.” This articulates a strong principle for life and against euthanasia, given that, for the first time, euthanasia has been so clearly rejected by a European political institution. , more.
05 Feb 2012 : Struggling with the idea of 'wrongful birth'
Are there any limits on what patients can demand from IVF clinics? One NSW couple are sueing their clinic on the grounds that their son, who suffers from a rare blood clotting disorder, should never have been born in the first place. Lawyers believe this complex case could set a precedent for hundreds of other families who have had children through IVF. , more.
25 Nov 2011 : Why splitting motherhood is contrary to human rights
Two Austrian couples took their Government to court because Austria bans the use of donated eggs. A lower chamber of the European Court for Human Rights had ruled in their favour saying that the Austrian law violated Article 8 of Convention which guarantees the right of people to a private and family life, and Article 12 which guarantees the right to found a family. But the ECHR Grand Chamber has now overruled the lower chamber and has found that Austria, and other countries that are signatories to the convention have a right to ban the use of donor sperm, donor eggs or both and therefore Austria is not in breach of Article 8 and 12. , more.
24 Nov 2011 : Is it the end of the line for embryonic stem cells?
Has research on embryonic stem cells come to the end of the line? This is the question being asked by the British weekly magazine, New Scientist, one of the reference points for high-level scientific information and a constant supporter of research into stem cells obtained from human embryos, despite the ethical problems raised by various groups – foremost among them, the Catholic Church , more.
20 Oct 2011 : Are babies prizes or gifts?
A Canadian radio station offered three rounds of IVF treatment as a prize in a competition. What does this say about their perception of babies? In Margaret Somerville's view, "Making conception of a baby a competition prize overtly cuts across any idea that the transmission of human life requires deep respect . . . It involves a trivialization of the transmission of human life, of conceiving a child, and of becoming a parent." , more.
20 Oct 2011 : PSA screening called into question
The United States Prevention Task Force has recommended discontinuation of standard PSA blood tests, which screens for the possibility of prostate cancer. The wide use of the test has led thousands of men to undergo unnecessary and damaging treatment, the task force said. , more.
03 Oct 2011 : Dying with dignity : how dignity therapy allows the dying to live well
Harvey Chochinov's ground-breaking work demonstrates that, against the claims of the vocal minority, if we really want to ensure death with dignity the one thing we should never do is legalise euthanasia. Dignity therapy brings unexpected benefits not only to the dying person, but to their family as well. , more.
03 Oct 2011 : Down but not out
A recent article in the American Journal of Medical Genetics shows that, contrary to popular belief, the parents of children with Down syndrome have overwhelmingly positive experiences to report. In light of this solid empirical research, it's time to put the record straight. , more.
03 Oct 2011 : The duty to support life
A woman known only as 'M' was taken to hospital eight and a half years ago and diagnosed with viral encephalitis. This left her with extensive and irreparable brain damage, in a 'minimally conscious' state needing to be fed by a tube. In a recent decision a British court has determined that M cannot be deprived of nutrition and hydration. , more.
03 Oct 2011 : Dead wrong: Catholics cannot support the death penalty
An unusual topic for bioethics perhaps, but an critically important ethical issue. The Catholic Church's evolving stance on the death penalty has reached its final phase, and it is clear that the Church now cannot support the death penalty in any form or for any reason. , more.
28 Jul 2011 : RU486 shown to be more dangerous
The 'morning after pill' is not nearly as safe as we have been told. A study of 7000 abortions carried out in Australia in 2009 found that 3.3 per cent of women using the RU486 had later turned up at emergency departments to seek treatment for problems, whereas only 2.2 per cent of women who had undergone surgical abortions had done so. The survey also found that 5.7 per cent of women undergoing early medical abortions using drugs had to be admitted to hospital for post-operative treatment, whereas only 0.4 per cent of women undergoing surgical abortions had need to do so. , more.
28 Jul 2011 : New law on rights of donor-conceived children in Washington State
In a large-scale study of donor-conceived people in the USA, 82 percent of respondents indicated a desire to be in contact someday with their donor (3). Top reasons for searching were 'To see what he looks like'; 'To learn more about my ancestry' and 'To learn more about myself'. Several explain: 'It makes me angry that I am denied the basic right of knowing who my father was and what ethnicity I am'; and: 'Angry and frustrated that I can’t get information about my heritage, genetics, looks, and medical history'. , more.
28 Jul 2011 : Should men be allowed to father a child after they are dead?
Fertility-treatment innovations mean that all sorts of people who would not have been able to have a baby a generation ago are now able to bring life into the world. Now, some are arguing the ranks of the newly fertile should include dead people. , more.
22 May 2011 : Fearful elderly in Netherlands carry 'anti-euthanasia' cards
Elderly people in the Netherlands are so fearful of being killed by doctors that they carry cards saying they do not want euthanasia, according to a campaigner who says allowing assistant suicide in Britain would put the vulnerable at risk. , more.
22 May 2011 : New method of making stem cells '100 times better'
A novel and more efficient method of generating iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells from adult cells using small RNA molecules has been discovered by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the USA. , more.
06 May 2011 : Catholic Teaching on Death and Organ Donation
Organ transplants save lives, but some Catholic thinkers still struggle to accept that we can donate organs for use when we have died. One common question is: what criteria should we rely on for evidence of death? In a recent essay published online, eminent Catholic bioethicist John Haas carefully explains the Church's official position on this important question , more.
05 May 2011 : Is genetic screening really eugenic?
The UK's Health Genetics Commission recently stated that 'there are no specific ethical, legal or social principles that would make preconception genetic testing within the framework of a population screening programme unacceptable'. Many Catholic ethicists would beg to differ: when genetic screening is conducted with the prior specific aim of eliminating 'unfit' or 'abnormal' embryos there is a clear eugenic element, and (even leaving the ethics of IVF to one side) this circumstance would make a genetic test ethically problematic. Dr Calum MacKellar shares his views in a BioNews article , more.
19 Apr 2011 : Welcome to the age of global fertility tourism!
In the last five years, would-be parents from as far as Istanbul and Uruguay have turned to healthy young mothers from the US state of Illinois to carry their children. The babies are born U.S. citizens, surrogacy agency officials say, but that's not a primary motivation for the parents, who typically come from European and Latin American countries where surrogacy is illegal or unavailable. The parents have exhausted other options and are willing to pay about $50,000 to $100,000 — part of which goes to the surrogate — to have biological children. , more.
19 Apr 2011 : Is euthanasia really an act of love for the suffering?
"One of the repeated justifications for euthanasia claimed by the pro-euthanasia side is that it relieves the burden of the suffering as an act of compassion and love. Yet, this “compassion” or “love” is largely left undefined in modern discourse, including by those who advocate for euthanasia." But in philosopher Joel Hodge's view, "to justify murder, then, in the name of love (like those who advocate for euthanasia) is the worst kind of moral argument, because love does not involve controlling the whole life of another." , more.
18 Apr 2011 : Did stem-cell scientists tell us the truth?
Guess which American ethicist recently said this: "Embryonic stem-cell research was completely overhyped, in terms of its promise. And people knew it at the time. I tried to say so myself at different times myself, even though I support embryonic stem-cell research. But this notion that people would be out of their wheelchairs within a year if we could just get embryonic stem-cell research funded was just ludicrous. Just simply silly." These are the words of Arthur Caplan, one of the USA's leading bioethicists and formerly a great supporter of embryonic stem cell research. He revealed his doubts to Sherif Girgis from the Witherspoon Institute , more.
08 Apr 2011 : Data on euthanasia, assisted suicide in USA
Over 600 people have died by euthanasia or assisted suicide since these practices were permitted in the US States of Oregon and Washington. Last year alone 51 people died in Washington (a rise of 42% over the previous year) while 65 died in Oregon. Critics say the data do not reveal the full extent of these practices, since the cause of death is unclear in about 10% of cases. The latest data , more.
08 Apr 2011 : Japanese nuclear plant workers could benefit from stem cell therapy
In one of the first large scale proposals for stem cell therapy, Japanese workers cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear plant could have their blood stem cells harvested for their own future use. Cleaning up the plant, which was devasted during the recent tsunami, exposes workers to cancer-causing doses of radiation. Blood stem cells could be used to treat subsequent cases of leukaemia according to some researchers, and a number of hospitals are ready to help. But not everyone shares their enthusiasm , more.
13 Feb 2011 : The Rights of Donor-Conceived Children in Australia
An Australian Senate inquiry into IVF donor-conception practices in Australia was handed down on 10 February, and it makes very interesting reading. Of major concern are committee fears that practices in some IVF clinics are virtually unregulated, resulting in unacceptable harm to the rights of donor-conceived children. The committee also makes some important recommendations on donor anonymity and the maximum number of families to benefit from a single donor. The pdf Report can be downloaded , more.
09 Feb 2011 : On one hand : surrogate mothers as 'gestational carriers'
What is it with Hollywood's fixation with surrogacy as the way to fufil one's roadmap to happiness? Whose interests does surrogacy serve, the child's or the parents'? And what have we done to the idea of 'parent' when a birth mother can be called a 'gestational carrier' - apparently an emotionally disengaged service provider and nothing more? Melinda Tankard Reist speaks up in The Australian , more.
08 Feb 2011 : On the other hand : surrogacy and a mother's attachment
The other side of the coin: a birth mother decides to keep the baby, causing all kinds of legal and other problems with the arranged parents. Even if these situations are rare, the potential for harm to the child is enormous. A court in the UK has had to decide, as this piece from The Guardian reveals , more.
23 Dec 2010 : Standoff : Phoenix bishop v 'Catholic' hospital
A fascinating drama is unfolding in the USA this Christmas, as Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmstead withdraws a hospital's right to call itself Catholic. The most recent development in a long-standing difficulty, this situation captures in microcosm a more profound and ongoing tension between the USA's Catholic Health Association and the Catholic Bishops' Conference. How will it all end? Latest news from National Catholic Reporter, including links to relevant history, documents and , more.
23 Dec 2010 : The Ethics of WikiLeaks
Controversy over WikiLeaks' release of confidential government cables (aren't 'cables' telegrams? who uses them any more?) and the fascinating side-show surrounding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are difficult to evaluate in ethical terms: despite the 'right to know' argument, we simply don't have enough unbiased information to make a balanced assessment. Australian-born lawyer and ethicist Margaret Somerville turns her considerable mind to this problem , more.
06 Dec 2010 : Rights of donor-conceived children recognised at last
Australia has been at the forefront since the early days of IVF, but now we are leading the field in another important way: recognising the rights of donor-conceived children to know their biological parents. Writing in Bionews, Eric Blyth tells how South Australia is the fourth Australian State, but only the thirteenth legislature in the world, to bring IVF practice into line with the needs of donor-conceived children , more.
05 Dec 2010 : Bioethics and the Belmont Report : why the 'Four Principles' sometimes don't help
Modern ethics in the Western world is dominated by the 'four principles' approach which grew out of the USA's Belmont Report in the late 1970s. But as Zachary Schrag argues, that report focused on medical research only, excluding issues and insights relating to other fields of inquiry. The result is that we now have a lop-sided idea of what scientific research is and how to conduct it ethically , more.
30 Nov 2010 : Surrogacy and Market Forces
Although commercial surrogacy is not legal in Western Australia, many people fear that market forces will nevertheless shape the way it is practiced. Canadian bioethicist Juliet Guichon reflects here on some dangers involved in allowing human procreation to be shaped by these forces. , more.
30 Nov 2010 : The 'Donated Generation' : act now or apologise later?
The world is starting to wake up to the idea that the responsibility attached to medical involvement in creating a child does not stop with conception. Donor-conceived children are speaking up for their right to know their biological origins, and demanding to be treated as persons rather than as 'objects' created to please others. Writing in Bioedge, Marilyn Crawshaw and Damian Adams argue that the time for action is now. , more.
05 Nov 2010 : Bioethics : where is it heading ?
"Political science, for Aristotle and other ancients, was considered the surest path toward human flourishing for communities of individuals. A new book, 'Progress in Bioethics', exemplifies a few ways that we’ve wandered from the ideal of seeking a robust and 'thick' moral account of how to share public life." To read more of Evan Rosa's incisive critique of contemporary bioethics (in the form of an extended book review) , more.
27 Oct 2010 : Risks of Legislating Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
"As Britain readies itself for a rapid growth in the number of over 80 year olds, the pressure to consider assisted suicide as a utilitarian solution will grow. But we should preserve the status quo. At present, the law shows compassion to those, in extraordinary cases, acting in extremis; it does not license a process in advance. We must not change the law to cover a few hard cases, but must protect the great majority." To read the entire text of Cristina Odone's exhaustive analysis from the Centre for Policy Studies , more.
25 Oct 2010 : Personal Genetic Profiling - is it wise?
As genetics, epigentics and the new field of proteonomics become more established in our medical landscape, some may be tempted to seek personalised genetic profiles from companies developing these new medical technologies. But the UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics has serious reservations about the value of these profiles. To read more , more.
14 Oct 2010 : Hospices in Oregon reject physician-assisted suicide
The pro-euthanasia lobby points to the US State of Oregon as a 'success story' in legislating physician-assisted suicide (PAS), but a new study shows that most hospices in that state actually refuse to participate in PAS. This may indicate that hospice staff do not wish to be complicit in PAS, but Wesley Smith aims higher: he suggests that this refusal is a sign that hospice staff recognise PAS to be directly contrary to the whole dynamic of hospice care. To read his blog on CBC Net , more.
11 Oct 2010 : Euthanasia in WA defeated - but where to now?
A Voluntary Euthanasia Bill was comfortably defeated in the Western Australian State Parliament on 22 September 2010 (24 votes to 11), but the focus has now switched to the national scene. Australia has a 'hung' Federal Parliament in Canberra, with pro-euthanasia Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate. Greens Leader Bob Brown has already signalled his intention to force the euthanasia issue nationally, so the big question is: can the Labor minority government resist the pressure? MercatorNet blogger Bill Muehlenberg has his doubts : to read his views , more.
10 Oct 2010 : Better stem cell option developed
With every passing week it becomes harder to sustain the argument that human embryos must be destroyed in the interests of stem cell research. In the most recent breakthrough, scientists at Harvard have shown how to use 'synthetic biological signals' to create effective stem cells from ordinary skin cells. This method avoids the risks of using viral messengers, which have been a major challenge in the development of induced pluripotent stem cells. To read The Washington Post report (which includes a short video) , more.
09 Oct 2010 : Proof : smoking is a risk to fertility
IVF clinicians have long believed it, but now there is proof: smoking affects not only the hopeful parents' fertility, it also risks the fertility of their children. The connection is in germ cells of the developing fetus, and in a protein imbalance in prospective fathers who smoke. For more detail , more.
14 Sep 2010 : Baby E case highlights donor IVF fears
A court in Australia recently decided that a baby born of donor IVF should have contact with all four interested parties - a gay couple and a lesbian couple. Gender politics aside, this demonstrates that children born of donor conception have a right to contact with all genetic parents, reinforcing persistent claims of donor conception support groups. To read the colourful history of Baby E , more.
27 Aug 2010 : IVF: Can you become a dad after you're dead?
Last year there were several cases in Western Australis concerning a woman's right to retrieve semen from her dead partner in order to have children. But can you really become a dad that long after you have died? While these questions remain under discussion in Australia, the USA is reflecting on similar ethical issues with a legal edge. To read the complex details , more.
27 Aug 2010 : Donor-conceived children and the right to know
Not all countries recognise the importance of giving donor-conceived children the right to access sinformation on their donor. "The adult voices of IVF donor offspring are a welcome counterbalance to an array of cultural forces aimed at further marginalizing fathers," wrote Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker recently. "At the very least, it is time for a serious debate on the ethics, meaning and practice of donor conception." To read more , more.
27 Aug 2010 : Euthanasia: the slippery slope DOES exist!
Euthanasia advocates may claim otherwise, but here is the proof. Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf is thinking of extending her country's liberal law on assisted suicide. She told the Swiss newspaper Sonntags Zeitung that "we want assisted suicide not only for the terminally ill, but others as well... We cannot simply exclude the chronically ill from assisted suicide. It should be permitted under certain conditions." For more , more.
13 Jul 2010 : Is IVF technology affecting reproductive decisions?
Another hint that the availability of IVF technology may be influencing women's reproductive decision-making: it is now possible to freeze eggs until one's career is established or until 'Mr Right' comes along. This effectively pushes up the age at which some women will access IVF, which exactly contradicts the advice of most fertility specialists. To read more on this strange situation , more.
13 Jul 2010 : Have your say on donor IVF
The Australian Senate is holding an inquiry into practices surrounding donor IVF, including a child's access to donor information, payment for donation, and limits on the number of families to benefit from one donor. The cut-off date for submissions is 30 July 2010. To have your say , more.
01 Jun 2010 : Children of Donor Dads Tell Their Story
While they have a sense of being 'wanted' by their mothers, children born of donor sperm also have a sense that "they are a product made to suit their mother’s wishes rather than a natural happening" according to Elizabeth Marquardt from the Institute for American Values. To read the disturbing results of her recent survey , more.
01 Jun 2010 : Children of Donor Dads : The Full Report
To read the full 140-page report "My Daddy's Name is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation" , more.
18 May 2010 : At Last! Solid Research on the Effects of Donor IVF
Children born of donor sperm or eggs have long reported a general sense of unease and even anger if they are deprived of information about and contact with their donor parent. Now empirical data published recently in Reproductive Biomedicine Online articulates their concerns: a high proportion felt that something had been missing from their identity. Which raises the question: will WA's new surrogacy laws have similar effects if children born of surrogacy arrangements are not informed at an early age? To read the new research , more.
18 May 2010 : "Death with Dignity" is Looking Less and Less Dignified
Euthanasia has never looked less like 'dying with dignity': last month's discovery of funereal urns in Lake Zurich may be connected with that city's infamous Dignitas Clinic which routinely kills patients seeking euthanasia. One former employee said that up to 300 urns had been 'dumped' in the lake by the company which claims to provide a 'dignified' exit. It would be funny if it were not so tragic. To read the TimesOnLine report , more.
30 Mar 2010 : HEALTH INSURANCE - SHOULD I PAY FOR OTHERS' BAD HABITS?
Medical people often gripe about have to treat patients who don't look after their own health, and in some cases treatment has been refused. No-one doubts that we should take responsibility for our own health, but is it ethical to refuse treatment to those who don't? In this opinion piece from the New York Times, Dr Sandeep Jautar argues that the argument is not as simple as it seems: we all engage in risk-taking behaviour. To read his thought-provoking article , more.
25 Mar 2010 : THE UNSTOPPABLE REACH OF EUTHANASIA
Wherever euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide have been made legal, advocates invariably push for total freedom - effectively, you won't need any justification to ask for help to die. The Netherlands are now debating just such a relaxation of the rules. Australian-born ethicist and lawyer Margaret Somerville highlights the dangers , more.
10 Mar 2010 : GETTING THE FACTS RIGHT ABOUT EUTHANASIA
Public debate on complex issues such as euthanasia is not helped when proponents can't get the facts right. Palpably untrue claims that quickly assume the status of 'proven facts' only lead us astray. Here, Australian-born Canadian ethicist and lawyer Margaret Somerville brings her considerable experience to bear on this issue. To read her clarification of the facts , more.
02 Mar 2010 : WITHDRAWING NUTRITION AND HYDRATION ON PATIENT REQUEST
In line with long-standing Catholic teaching, Pope John Paul II said in 2004 that providing nutrition and hydration to unconscious patients is, in principle, ordinary care which should not be withdrawn unless it has become therapeutically futile or overly burdensome. In seeking to clarify his comments, the US Bishops seem only to have confused the issue. The key point, however, is that if a competent patient refuses a life-sustaining medical treatment (even via an advanced health directive) on the grounds that it is not therapeutically beneficial or too burdensome, it is ethically and legally proper to honour that refusal. To read Kaiser Health's take on this issue , more.
23 Feb 2010 : 'MERCY KILLING' NOT AN OPTION FOR THIS MUM
Full-time carer Elisabeth Shepherd fears that a move to euthanasia and assisted suicide will reduce our commitment to care for people like her 36-year-old son James. 'I also fear it may mean that people like James begin to feel that being such a burden on a carer, who is very often a close relative, is a choice they are actively making by not committing suicide. That guilt may be enough to tip the balance into them taking their life.' To read Veronica Moore's moving account in London's Daily Mail , more.
05 Feb 2010 : EUTHANASIA : A WARNING FROM BELGIUM
According to Belgian bioethicist Erny Gillen, “Euthanasia is not a solution, euthanasia is a threat and, as a threat, it should not be offered to anyone.” To read Prof Gillen's interview with New Zealand's Nathaniel Centre, which covers euthanasia, palliative care and the need for the healthy to offer solidarity with the dying , more.
02 Feb 2010 : DONOR-CONCEIVED CHILDREN SHOULD HAVE A LEGAL RIGHT TO KNOW
As more children are conceived using donor gametes - donated eggs, sperm, or both - there is increasing concern that the laws which permit IVF do not also guarantee a child's right to information about their genetic parent. Dr Lucy Frith here critiques the law in the UK, but her comments also apply to the situation here in Australia. To read what Dr Frith has to say , more.
25 Jan 2010 : DYING, THE LAST GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH
Australian-born ethicist Margaret Somerville writes: 'The challenge is to find meaning in dying – to make dying the last great act of living.' Euthanasia is the final medicalisation of human life, a quick technological fix that robs us of our greatest opportunity for growth. To read Margaret Somerville's comments in full , more.
20 Jan 2010 : SHOULD I TAKE MY OWN LIFE?
When Charlotte Raven was diagnosed with Huntington's, an incurable degenerative disease, there seemed only one option: suicide. But would deciding how and when to die really give her back the control she desperately craved? And what about the consequences for her husband and young daughter? To read her own account , more.
14 Jan 2010 : ADULT STEM CELL INFORMATION
A new website tells the good news stories about adult stem cells and their successful use in actual therapies. Read patients' stories, watch the video links. A good resource for secondary school research which we will put on to our 'stem cell' resource page. To go the the website , more.
14 Jan 2010 : DANGER IN LEGALISING ASSISTED SUICIDE, DISABILITY GROUPS WARN
If assisted suicide is legalised most of the people who will die are disabled. According to lobbyist Diane Coleman, "Proponents of legalized assisted suicide are willing to treat lives ended through abuses of the practice as 'acceptable losses' when balanced against their wish for a pleasant way out and their unwillingness to accept disability, or responsibility for their own suicide. We disagree." For a hard-hitting critique of Oregon's much-vaunted laws , more.
30 Nov 2009 : EUTHANASIA AND THE PUZZLE OF HUMAN DIGNITY
Both sides of the euthanasia debate claim to be advancing the cause of human dignity, so who should we believe? One side upholds our fundamental prohibition on all killing except in self defense, while the other side allows this prohibition to be breached on a number of grounds. So one side claiming to uphold 'human dignity' actually contradicts this basic ethical principle. To read Margaret Somerville's assessment , more.
25 Nov 2009 : IVF AND THE CHILD'S RIGHT TO KNOW
Australian-born lawyer and ethicist Margaret Somerville holds that in IVF, ethics requires us to place children's best interests at the centre of decision making and not, as has been largely true up to this point, to allow adults' wishes or preferences to override children's fundamental human rights. To read her views in more detail , more.
20 Nov 2009 : NEW EUTHANASIA RESOURCE NOW AVAILABLE
We are pleased to announce the addition of a new resource page on this site. To access some important links and pdf documents dealing with the subject of euthanasia, click on the "EUTHANASIA" button on the right hand side of this page. We will be adding new documents to this page, and creating new pages, in coming weeks. .
27 Oct 2009 : UK FERTILITY LAWS MAY 'SCRAMBLE GENERATIONS'
British IVF laws permit gametes to be stored for up to 55 years, allowing an infertile woman to receive a 'donation' of eggs from her mother years later. In this way a woman could give birth to a daughter who is also her half-sister. Such extraordinary possibilities have prompted further debate in the House of Lords. To read Nienke Korsten's report in Bionews , more.
21 Oct 2009 : LEARNING ABOUT LIVING FROM THE DYING
Ageing, disability or chronic illness may confine us, but there is still meaning and purpose in life. The trick is to identify what it is that gives meaning, and to share that with others. Psychiatrist Henry Grunebaum recounts an important learning curve of his own , more.
19 Oct 2009 : IVF: UK REVISIONS CAUSE CONFUSION
Th UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 entered a new phase this month, but some commentators are concerned that efforts to clarify the Act have actually made it more confusing. Law lecturer Sarah Elliston points to some of these issues in an article which also contains valuable links to UK legislative and other sources, and related articles. To read her view , more.
06 Oct 2009 : NEW UK IVF LAWS AND THE RIGHTS OF DONOR-CONCEIVED CHILDREN
From the beginning of this month Britain's new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act recognises the rights of donor-conceived children to access information about their donors and about any other half-siblings conceived from the same donor. This recognises a fundamental right to know who we are related to, which is also an issue in WA's own IVF laws. To read one lawyer's reflections on these changes to UK laws , more.
25 Sep 2009 : THE ETHICS OF PAYING FOR TEST-TUBE BABIES
In paying for IVF technology, society becomes complicit in its use and has ethical obligations toward the children who result. To read Australian-born lawyer and ethicist Margaret Somerville's reflections on some proposed changes to IVF regulation in Ontario , more.
04 Sep 2009 : PALLIATIVE CARE : A BETTER OPTION THAN EUTHANASIA
"The World Health Organization has recommended that governments not consider assisted suicide and euthanasia until they have demonstrated the availability and practice of palliative care for their citizens. All states and all countries have a long way to go to achieve this goal. People are only beginning to learn that with well-trained doctors and nurses and good end-of-life care, it is possible to avoid the pain of the past experiences of many of their loved ones and to achieve a good death. The right to such care is the right that patients should demand and the challenge that every country needs to meet." To read all of Herbert Hendin's 2004 commentary on the dangers of passing euthanasia legislation , more.
04 Sep 2009 : END-OF-LIFE ISSUES IN USA HEALTH REFORM : A BACKGROUND
The USA is "a country where an optimistic ethos places great faith in technology and often precludes frank contemplations of mortality. That tendency has a price tag: A quarter of Medicare costs -- totaling $100 billion a year -- are incurred in the final year of patients' lives, and 40 percent of that in the last month." For more background on how end-of-life issues are impacting President Obama's health reform efforts , more.
29 Aug 2009 : THE DANGERS OF STATE-SANCTIONED EUTHANASIA
Amid President Obama's apparently doomed effort to provide universal health cover in the USA, blogger Ethel Fenig reveals a shocking truth from the State of Oregon (which permits physician-assisted suicide): if providing euthanasia turns out to be cheaper than providing ongoing health care, you won't be funded for health care. To read her blog , more.
13 Aug 2009 : CHRISTIAN ROSSITER - IS IT EUTHANASIA?
Western Australia has been transfixed in recent weeks by the case of Christian Rossiter, a Perth man suffering quadriplegia who has asked his carers to remove his PEG tube. As the WA Supreme Court prepares to rule on his application and Greens MLC Robin Chapple drafts a private members bill to permit euthanasia, this website will attempt to keep you abreast of the ethical issues. Watch for the new button in the 'Topics' column, coming soon to the right-hand side of this page .
10 Aug 2009 : EUTHANASIA AND DODGY STATISTICS
The UK's Royal College of Nursing says it neither supports nor opposes euthanasia, based on a survey of members. But that survey proves nothing - it effectively reached only 0.3% of members, making a mockery of the College's claim that 49% of members are for and 40% against euthanasia. For a critique of the College's claims , more.
09 Aug 2009 : MY SISTER'S KEEPER
"Technology, apart from any ethical or moral compass, has progressed to the point where, for the first time in history, we are able to intentionally create human life and allow it to fully develop solely because we need that life to save another." Jodi Picoult's 2004 novel on the 'saviour sibling' question has recently been released to the big screen. To read Jennifer Lahl's insightful critique of 'My Sister's Keeper' , more.
02 Aug 2009 : PAIN RELIEF IS NOT EUTHANASIA
The euthanasia lobby in Canada is deliberately confusing legitimate pain relief treatment with euthanasia in order to promote their cause, according to Australian lawyer and ethicist Margaret Somerville. To read her critique of this shameful tactic , more.
29 Mar 2009 : TREATED LIKE ANIMALS: THE ONGOING MYTH OF EUTHANASIA
Euthanasis advocates claim, 'We're kinder to animals than to humans', but that simply isn't true and never has been. Examine the facts, and see for yourself. It isn't only sick animals that are euthanised: ugly, ill-tempered, hard-to-train and abandoned animals are euthanised every day. Do you really want to be treated like that? Stephen Drake and Dick Sobsey uncover an irrational deceit at the heart of the pro-euthanasia argument. To read it in full , more.
28 Mar 2009 : EUTHANASIA: REFUSING TO MAKE SENSE OF LIFE
"Euthanasia is a predictable response to a loss of meaning in relation to death and its practice would augment that loss. Even if we believe that doesn’t matter, we should be concerned, because our capacity to find meaning in life may well depend on our being able to find meaning in death." To read Margaret Somerville's views in full, , more.
02 Feb 2009 : DONOR-CONCEIVED CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW
What rights do IVF children have to know their genetic parents? Not many rights at all, it seems, in jurisdictions that allow anonymous gamete donation. Even here in WA the 'donor register' is only volunary and children can still be denied this natural right. To read Renee Smith's view from the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network , more.