Russian scientist plans to edit human germline

A Russian biologist has announced that he plans to create gene-edited human embryos. Molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov told Nature that he wants to reprise the experiment carried out by disgraced Chinese scientist He Jiankui last year –- with some modifications.

The news has sparked horrified reactions amongst well-known stem cell scientists who fear that cowboys in their field could badly damage its reputation. Echoing the consensus of bioethicists, Alta Charo, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Nature that using CRISPR to edit the human genome is irresponsible, given the current state of the science.

Like He, Rebrikov plans to disable… MORE

New York legislature in heated debate over surrogacy 

Gloria Steinem / Gage Skidmore flickr

A New York State bill to legalise commercial surrogacy has hit an unexpected road block: Gloria Steinem. The 85-year-old icon and other feminists have joined hands with Christian and conservative groups to lobby against the proposal.

New York is one of three US states which ban paid surrogacy. However, a strong LGBT lobby and its allies have backed a new, profit-motivated approach. A bill, which is strongly supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo, has already passed in the Senate. With the 2019 session of the State Legislature winding up on June 19, the… MORE

In times of climate crisis, how many children should you have?

“There is no more any prophet,” is the bitter lament of the Psalmist. We are more fortunate. Sixteen-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg has been out-Jeremiah-ing Jeremiah and lecturing the great and the good about the looming catastrophe caused by climate change. Here’s how she excoriated the chardonnay set at Davos: “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” … MORE

AMA sticks to a policy of opposing assisted suicide

The American Medical Association voted this week by 71% to 29% to reaffirm its opposition to physician-assisted suicide. 

Testimony yesterday by medical students and residents on the dangers of the practice to both patients and the physician-patient relationship appear to have carried the day in a reference committee. The committee strongly recommended that the voting body accept an ethics council’s recommendation to reaffirm the AMA’s opposition to assisted suicide.

The AMA’s official position is that legalized assisted suicide is contrary to the physician’s role as healer, puts vulnerable patients at risk, and would be difficult or impossible to control. … MORE

Maine legalises assisted suicide

The US state of Maine has become the ninth jurisdiction to legalise physician-assisted suicide, joining the nation’s capital, Washington DC, and the seven states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and New Jersey.

Democratic Governor Janet Mills, who had been sitting on the fence, signed the bill into law. “It is my hope that this law, while respecting the right of personal liberty, will be used sparingly and that we will respect the life of every citizen with the utmost concern for their spiritual and physical well-being,” Mills said. “And that as a society that we will be… MORE

Blue ribbon Canadian panel proposes guidelines for euthanasia and organ donation

Interest in organ donation with euthanasia is growing in Canada. Although it is still not legal or approved by medical authorities, leading experts in transplant medicine have published guidelines for administering it in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The authors include health professionals from Canadian Blood Services, the Canadian Critical Care Society, the Canadian Society of Transplantation and the Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses. The panel was led by Dr James Downar, an critical and palliative care specialist and a supporter of medical aid in dying (MAID), Canada’s term for euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Below are the main… MORE

Alabama OKs chemical castration for sex offenders

Alabama has joined several other American states in requiring sex offenders to be chemically castrated when they are released from prison. Governor Kay Ivey signed House Bill 379 this week.

The new law applies to men over 21 who have molested children under the age of 13. The procedure is potentially reversible, but the offenders must take the medication for the rest of their lives. Failure to comply would send them back behind bars. They are also required to pay for the “treatment” unless a court rules that they cannot afford it. The medicine alone is said to cost… MORE

Sperm banks’ ‘he-man’ strategy to lure donors

Sperm banks in the United Kingdom and Australia are using images and phrases associated with masculinity to attract donors because laws prohibit them from paying for sperm.

An article in the journal Marketing Theory analysed marketing strategies used by sperm banks in the United Kingdom and Australia and found they rely on masculine archetypes to create value for a commodity they cannot legally buy.

Globally, the sperm donation industry is valued at more than US$3.5 billion; greater acceptance of same-sex relationships and increased demand for fertility treatments are expected to drive further industry growth in coming years.

Sperm banks… MORE

Funding door closes on foetal tissue research in US

The Trump Administration has effectively shut down medical research using foetal tissue from elective abortions.

Since last September the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been reviewing all contracts by its agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, which involved foetal tissue. This week it announced that it would no longer fund research using foetal tissue.

“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration” the HHS declared. “Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from… MORE

Dutch ‘euthanasia’ case sparks international furore

Euthanasia debates often centre on older, terminally ill patients who wish to end their lives rather than suffering needlessly in their final days. Many are unaware that in the Netherlands and Belgium euthanasia is permitted for minors and the mentally ill.

This goes some way to explaining the international media frenzy surrounding a 17-year-old girl who committed suicide in the Nertherlands early this month. Noa Pothoven, a teenager from the city of Arnhem, was raped on multiple occasions as a child, and since then had suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, anorexia and depression. Doctors struggled to treat Pothoven’s various disorders,… MORE

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