Dutch doctors cleared to euthanise dementia patients who have advance directives

Dutch doctors will be able to sedate demented patients and then euthanise them, if they have made advance directives, according to new official guidelines. This follows a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year which quashed the conviction of a retired nursing home doctor for murder.

The doctor, Marinou Arends, euthanised a 74-year-old woman, even though she was resisting, on the basis of advance care directives which she had written before she entered the nursing home. Although the doctor had secretly sedated her, the woman still had to be held down by her son-in-law so that she could be given… MORE

Euthanasia as an option for Canadian nursing home patients who are sick of lockdowns

A final family get-together with Nancy Russell / ctvnews.ca  

This is just one story amongst many but it raises serious questions. A 90-year-old woman, Nancy Russell, chose euthanasia last month in Toronto. She was not suffering unbearable pain. She was just sick and tired of lockdown isolation in her nursing home.

According to a report in CTVNews, “Residents eat meals in their rooms, have activities and social gatherings cancelled, family visits curtailed or eliminated. Sometimes they are in isolation in their small rooms for days. These measures, aimed at saving lives, can sometimes be detrimental enough to… MORE

Bioethicist speaks about his own clash with Covid restrictions

Numerous articles have been published in bioethics journals about aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic. But bioethicist Joseph Meaney, the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, speaks from personal experience. He was hospitalised for four days with a near-fatal heart problem and had to cope with Covid-19 restrictions on visiting. He reflected on his experience with a journalist at Crux.

Hospitals should recognise a right not to die alone:

Certain hospitals and health care facilities, particularly nursing homes for the elderly, put into place draconian visitation restrictions as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. The result of these… MORE

Leading British surgeon allegedly hoarded body parts

(Sorry, we missed this significant story which broke in September and October.) A pioneering orthopaedic surgeon has been officially censured for illegally keeping the bones of 5,224 of his patients without their consent for his private research. On October 22 conditions were placed on the medical licence of 67-year-old Derek McMinn.

Patients travelled from all over the world to have McMinn operate on their hips and knees at the BMI Edgbaston Hospital in Birmingham. He developed the first technique for successful metal-on-metal hip resurfacing and is an acknowledged authority in the field. His patients included politicians, sports stars and celebrities.


Sex robots can offer the intimacy that the elderly disabled crave, says bioethicist

Sex robots are needed for older people, especially older people with disabilities, according to an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Nancy S. Jecker, a bioethicist at the University of Washington, in Seattle, contends that “the non-voluntary absence of sex from someone’s life is not just a bad thing but also a threat to a person’s identity and dignity” and sex robots can fill this gap in the lives of the elderly. Society should make “reasonable efforts” to help them as a way of promoting human dignity.

Jecker, who has written extensively about ethical issues associated with… MORE

Serbian govt and media attack bioethicist

Prof. Vojin Rakić 

A leading Serbian bioethicist is being attacked by the government and media in his country, prompting an open letter supporting him signed by some of the most prominent bioethicists in the US, the UK and across Europe.

Professor Vojin Rakić is the founder and head of the Center for the Study of Bioethics  in Belgrade. His research focus is moral bioenhancement and he has debated the issue in the Journal of Medical Ethics with Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson. The letter describes him as “an internationally well-known and highly respected scholar, who… MORE

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to blow up the universe

Euthanasia is usually viewed as a personal experience. But there are movements and philosophers who believe that it would be a good idea if the whole human race were to perish. South African philosopher David Benatar, for instance, argues that bringing people into existence always does them harm. And the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement advocates the gradual disappearance of mankind.

However, as Thomas Moynihan, of the University of Oxford, writes in The Conversation, these guys are amateurs compared to a nearly forgotten German philosopher, Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906).

A disciple of Schopenhauer, von Hartmann believed that all life… MORE

Biden announces expert team for planning Covid-19 fight

In one of his first initiatives after the election – which continues to be disputed by the incumbent -- US President-elect Joe Biden set up a Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board.

There is little doubt that the US is facing a crisis. New cases are rising in at least 40 states, with more than 9.3 million total infections and more than 236,000 deaths. According to exit polls, 73% of Biden voters felt that this pandemic was the most serious issue facing the country.

Mr Biden has appointed David Kessler, Vivek Murthy, and Marcella Nunez-Smith as his lead advisers. His policy… MORE

Eugenics policies are part of China’s five-year plan, says expert

An expert on women’s issues has rung alarm bells about the potential for eugenics in China’s latest “five-year plan”. Columbia professor Leta Hong Fincher told a panel of China watchers at a virtual conference by the Center for International and Strategic Studies last week.

“What caught my eye was that they actually use specific language saying that China needs to ‘upgrade population quality,’” she said. “They need to ‘optimize their birth policy.’ They even use a term … which is effectively emphasizing the role of eugenics in population planning in China.”

She told the conference that this also… MORE

Does the autonomy principle work for substance abusers? 

Autonomy is the fundamental principle of contemporary bioethics – or most of it. In moral dilemmas, the path leading to greater autonomy is normally the right one. But are there exceptions?

In a fascinating article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Laura Williamson, of Augusta University, in Georgia, argues that substance abuse is a disorder for which therapies based on autonomy are of little use. Far more important are relationships and empathy.

a simple focus on self-determination, while intended to empower, does not provide sufficient support to help us move beyond seeing people as solely responsible for what… MORE

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