Australia launches inquiry into safety and ethics of transgender medicine

A national inquiry into the safety and ethics of transgender medicine will be conducted by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians with the backing of Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

At the moment there are no nationally agreed standards, although guidelines issued by Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital gender clinic have been referred to as the “Australian standards”. However, this document, which has been described as the “most progressive” in the world by Victoria’s Minister for Health, has not been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The RCH model commits doctors to the controversial policy of… MORE





Fertility becomes a global money-spinner 

The fertility market is growing so fast that The Economist recently featured an article about investment opportunities.

“By 2026 the global fertility industry could rake in US$41bn in sales, from $25bn today. Today one in 60 in America is born thanks to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and other artificial treatments. In Denmark, Israel and Japan the figure is more than one in 25—and rising. In China revenues could double to over $7bn by 2023, according to Frost & Sullivan, a data firm. Add high operating margins—of around 30% in America for a $20,000 round of IVF—plus the recession-proof nature… MORE





‘Sperm sharing’ schemes in UK make IVF cheaper

Some IVF clinics are resorting to “sperm sharing” arrangements to increase the supply of sperm and lower the cost for couples who are seeking to have a child.

The Hull IVF Unit in the United Kingdom is offering a deal whereby couples can save more than £3,500 – if they are willing to share the sperm. Each man has to supply enough for ten couples before he will be allowed to create his own embryos with his partner.

The clinic hopes that this new marketing scheme will end a donor shortage.

Laura Mason, the clinic’s sperm donor coordinator, told MORE





Push in Germany for legalisation of surrogacy

A German politician is pushing for a thorough-going revision of family law to allow altruistic surrogacy. Katrin Helling Plahr, of the Free Democrats (FDP), has released a seven-page position paper on liberalizing fertility treatment.

The current law in Germany, the Embryo Protection Act, was passed in 1990, when social mores were different. It bans all surrogacy.

FDP members of the European Parliament propose three main amendments to the law. They want full support for fertility treatments, regardless of the family model the applicants are in. They want to update artificial reproduction by permitting egg donation, embryo donation and non-commercial surrogacy. 

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Should countries compete to have the most permissive stem cell regulations?

Gresham’s Law is more familiar to economists than bioethicists. It states that “bad money drives out good”, that people will hoard valuable coins if debased coins are circulating at the same face value.

A kind of bioethical Gresham’s Law is operating in regenerative (or stem cell) medicine, claim two scientists in an article in Science. They warn that if just one country decides to relax regulations in the field, a heightened sense of competition can spur others to do the same.

Regenerative medicine focuses on developing therapies to regenerate or replace injured, diseased or defective cells, tissues or organs.… MORE





Consent language can be too complicated for patients

Research out of Columbia University has indicated that language used in patient consent forms is too difficult to understand. And if patients cannot understand consent forms, it follows that they also do not fully grasp the treatment recommendations they have consented to.

Of 113 consent forms that evaluated in the research, only 9 met the Grade 8 recommended readability standard. Researches were surprised at the high reading level required to understand the forms. However, rather than suggesting improvements to the wording of forms Nancy E. Kass, of Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, has highlighted the ethical importance of… MORE





Human gene editing: should we think twice about producing designer babies?

CRISPR gene editing technology is still in its early stages of development. Yet it is already being touted as one of the most significant technological developments of this century. 

The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technique allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. It relies on a protein, Cas9, which acts like a pair of molecular scissors and is capable of cutting strands of DNA.

CRISPR has been widely used in the United States and elsewhere to gene edit crops for desirable traits, and scientists are hopeful that they can gene edit… MORE





Ranking bioethics journals

Bioethicist Udo Schuklenk has produced the following ranking of bioethics journals. It is based on 2019 Google Scholar Metrics. The "h5-index" is the h-index for articles published in the last 5 complete years. It is the largest number h such that h articles published in 2014-2018 have at least h citations each. The "h5-median" for a publication is the median number of citations for the articles that make up its h5-index.

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Rank

Journal

h-5

h5-median

1


India could ban commercial surrogacy

A controversial bill banning commercial surrogacy has passed the lower house (Lok Sabha) of the Indian Parliament. If it passes the upper house – which is far from certain – only altruistic surrogacy will be permitted, under strict conditions.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan described the bill as “the need of the hour”. "A rough estimate says there are about 2,000-3,000 surrogacy clinics running illegally in the country and a few thousand foreign couples resort to surrogacy practise within India and the whole issue is thoroughly unregulated," he told Parliament.

"Due to lack of legislation to regulate surrogacy, the practice… MORE





Euthanasia doctor exonerated after death in Orthodox Jewish nursing home

A Vancouver doctor who snuck into an Orthodox Jewish nursing home which forbids assisted death and euthanised a patient has been cleared of wrongdoing.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC) declared that Dr Ellen Wiebe did not break the regulator’s rules when she helped 83-year-old Barry Hyman die inside the Louis Brier Home and Hospital on June 29, 2017.

“The committee determined that it was not critical of Dr. Wiebe’s provision of MAiD [Medical Aid in Dying] to the patient at Louis Brier, noting that the patient had consented and that Dr. Wiebe had met… MORE




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