Spain edges closer to legalizing euthanasia

Spain’s coalition government is attempting to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. Its right-to-die bill includes an "express euthanasia" service, with doctors visiting chronically ill patients at home, as well as in hospitals and clinics.

The government also intends to shorten waiting times between requesting and receiving euthanasia, to simplify consent rules, even for patients who have lost mental capacity, and to apply the law retrospectively so that doctors will not be punished for performing euthanasia before the law is passed.

Euthanasia was among the electoral pledges made by the two parties in Spain's ruling coalition. The legislation was introduced in… MORE

South Korea to loosen restrictions on abortion despite low birth rate

A bill to decriminalize abortion up to the fourteenth week of was tabled in the South Korean parliament this week.

South Korea has banned abortion since 1953. Exceptions were introduced in 1973, especially in cases of rape or incest. However, the Constitutional Court overturned the ban in April last year, considering that it restricted women's rights. The government has been ordered to draft a new law.

The draft bill bans abortion after 14 weeks except in cases of rape or incest, if the mother's health is at risk, or if the foetus shows signs of severe birth defects. Under these… MORE

A modern sultan boasts his virtual harem

In the age of the Reproductive Revolution, it’s an antiquated approach, but it works. An American named “Joe” claimed on British television that he has had 150 children scattered all over the world conceived through natural sex. “It’s more than the average person but there are people who have more. There’s some sultans out there who have more,” he told The Sun.

Lesbians, singles or women with infertile partners contact him by Facebook or email and ask for his services. "I started donating sperm in 2008 and have fathered on average 10 children per year. I have always said… MORE

Quick and faulty research a problem for journals in Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a flood of potentially substandard research amid the rush to publish, with a string of papers retracted or under a cloud and a surge in submissions to pre-print servers where fewer quality checks are made, a leading ethicist has warned in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

This has implications for patients, clinicians, and potentially government policy, says Katrina Bramstedt, of Bond University, in Australia, and Secretary General at Luxembourg Agency for Research Integrity.

The rapid spread of Covid-19 and its transition into a global pandemic propelled researchers to begin the search for treatments and… MORE

CRISPR scientists win Nobel Prize in chemistry

To no one’s surprise, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded this year to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for their 2012 discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.

This development allows scientists to do precision editing of the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms. “This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true,” says the Nobel committee. “These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.”


More family secrets unveiled in Netherlands

Another success for family reunions through genetic databases! A woman looking for her sperm donor father on the internet has discovered that he was a deceased gynaecologist who had fathered at least 16 other children. His patients believed that they were receiving fresh sperm from an anonymous donor.

The doctor, Jan Wildschut, worked from 1981 to 1993 at the fertility clinic of the former Sophia hospital, today called Isala hospital, in the eastern Dutch city of Zwolle. He died in 2009.

"A total of 17 donor children are currently known, in addition to the legal children of this former… MORE

Netherlands prepares for child euthanasia

It hardly comes as a surprise, but doctors in The Netherlands may soon be able to euthanise children under 12. They are already authorised to euthanise babies up to 12 months old and children over 12.

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge told the Dutch Parliament earlier this week that this should be possible for "a small group of terminally ill children who agonize with no hope, and unbearable suffering." He estimates that this will be applicable to five or ten children a year.

Dr de Jonge suggested that in rare cases where doctors felt that it was necessary… MORE

After months of Covid-19 scepticism, President Trump is hospitalized with the virus

President Trump on his way to Walter Reed Hospital 

One day before testing positive for Covid-19, President Trump told a New York charity event that: "The end of the pandemic is in sight and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country."

While, touch wood, both of these forecasts may come true, the fact that Mr Trump is in the presidential suite of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for at least a few days casts a shadow over them.

White House sources say that Mr Trump only has a mild… MORE

Assisted dying round-up

Assisted suicide is on the legislative agenda in a number of jurisdictions. Here is the latest news on a few of them.

New Zealand. Kiwis will vote in a referendum on voluntary euthanasia on October 17. Parliament backed legislation earlier in the year, but the final decision rests with the public. Whether the next government is led by Jacinda Arderns’s Labour Party or the Nationals, the referendum will be binding. In the event of a "yes" vote, the End of Life Choice Act will come into force in October 2021.

Massachusetts. Assisted suicide is legal in nine US states and… MORE

BBC airs Harold Shipman doco

A mugshot of Dr Harold Shipman 

There is assisted dying and there is assisted dying. The former is in the headlines nowadays and is also known as assisted suicide. The latter is clearly murder. The best example of this is Dr Harold Shipman, the British family doctor who may have given lethal injections to more than 270 of his elderly patients in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. He was convicted of 15 of these deaths in 2000 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He committed suicide in 2004 in jail. 

Shipman is Britain’s most prolific serial killer and a perennial reminder… MORE

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