Portugal moves closer to legal euthanasia

Portuguese protesters / Euronews

After its parliament approved five bills this week, Portugal will probably become the next country to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. The next step is for a committee to consolidate the five proposals into one bill.

However, right to die is not yet done and dusted. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a conservative, could veto the bill. Opposition groups are also pressing for a referendum.

All five proposals agreed on the usual conditions for euthanasia -- a patient must be over 18, not suffering from a mental illness, and the request can be… MORE

Twitter piles on Richard Dawkins over eugenics tweet

Dawkins exploring New Zealand / Twitter 

Twitter may not be the best medium for explaining the science of eugenics to a suspicious public, as the sometime Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, Richard Dawkins, discovered this week.

Professor Dawkins, now aged 78, renowned as an evolutionary biologist and as the author of best-sellers about genetics and atheism, most recently Outgrowing God, chose to tweet about eugenics. This may have been prompted by a Twitterstorm about back room boys at 10 Downing Street (of which more below). His words were not… MORE

Biologists question transgender claims

Two biologists have denounced “sex denialism” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Colin Wright, of Penn State University, and Emma Hilton, of the University of Manchester, argue that the existence of only two sexes, male and female, is a scientific fact and that transgender ideology is “an eccentric academic theory”.

As they point out, even science journals are promoting a non-binary view of sex. “The idea of two sexes is simplistic,” Nature declared in 2015. “Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.” A 2018 Scientific American article asserted that “biologists now think there is… MORE

Gender dysphoria soars in Sweden

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The number of teenagers born as girls who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria has increased by almost 1,500 percent in ten years in Sweden, according to a report from the Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

The report examines mental health and the rise of gender between 2008 and 2018. In that time the number of natal men aged 18-24 diagnosed with gender dysphoria grew by 400 percent. The biggest increase was amongst natal girls between 13 and 17, which grew by 1,500 percent. Nearly 6,000… MORE

Belgium could criminalise abortion protest

Belgian Federal Parliament / Palais de la Nation

Once again, the Belgian parliament is debating abortion – not whether to decriminalise it, for that happened in 1990, but whether to criminalise protests against it.

A new bill would relax existing restrictions by allowing abortions up to 18 weeks (from 12 weeks), removing all penalties for women who do not comply with the law, and shortening a mandatory cooling-off period from six to two days.

The novelty of the bill is the creation of an “offense of obstructing abortion”. The penalty for obstruction could be jail for between 3… MORE

Victoria releases first euthanasia implementation report

The panel charged with montoring the implementation of Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying (VAD) legislation has released its first report -- six months after the state’s euthanasia laws came into effect. 

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board’s first Report of Operations, released on Tuesday, provides information on how Victoria’s euthanasia legislation is being enacted, including details of how many people have been issued with a ‘VAD permit’, as well as information on some of the barriers preventing people from accessing the scheme. 

According to the report, permits to access the lethal medication were issued… MORE

Indonesian ‘family values’ include LGBT ‘rehabilitation’

A passerby hugs an LGBT activist in Jakarta / Jakarta Post/Seto Wardhana

While Australia and other Western countries debate bans on LGBT conversion therapy, Indonesia is thinking of mandating it.

A bill is being studied by the Indonesian Parliament to strengthen families facing crisis situations like financial difficulties, job demands, divorce, chronic disease, death – or “sexual deviance”. It would force LGBT people to undergo "rehabilitation".

Derided as “the bedroom bill”, it defines sexual deviation as “urges to achieve sexual satisfaction through unusual and unreasonable ways, which include sadism, masochism, incest and homosexuality.”

According to the Jakarta… MORE

The British boy who will die twice

Midrar Ali and his parents

The British parents of a brain-damaged four-month-old baby lost a legal battle to keep him on life support earlier this month. A high court judge, Mrs Justice Lieven, ruled in January that Midrar Ali was brain stem dead and doctors at St Mary’s hospital in Manchester could withdraw treatment.

The baby’s parents, Karwan Ali and Shokhan Namiq, appealed her judgement. As Muslims they wanted to struggle to keep him alive and hope for the best.

But on February 14, the court of appeal upheld the earlier ruling. Describing the judgment as “terrible”,… MORE

Competing Canadian reports on mental illness and euthanasia

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash  

The Provincial and Federal governments in Canada need to amend their euthanasia laws quickly. They have to meet a March 2020 deadline set by last year by Quebec Superior Court Justice Baudouin who ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny Canadians the right to die unless their deaths were “reasonably foreseeable”.

Amongst other issues, lawmakers need to determine whether people with mental illness will be able to access euthanasia, or Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), as it is called in Canada.  

In every jurisdiction… MORE

Is the ‘slippery slope’ just a big nothingburger?

Opponents of assisted dying legislation often issue dire warnings about “slippery slopes”. Supporters take the philosophical high ground and respond that slippery slopes either do not exist or are conceptually incoherent.

Take Canada. Journalists discussing MAiD for mental illness have told readers that the country is slip-sliding away. A National Post editorial recently suggested that “the words ‘slippery slope’ are more than mere alarmism … In every state or country in which the practice has been normalized, it has also, to some degree, become banalized, with eligibility criteria increasingly relaxed.” In the Calgary Herald, columnist Licia Corbella wrote that “with every year… MORE

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