Trump nominates a pro-life woman to the US Supreme Court 

At the Supreme Court after the announcement of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett / flickr / Victoria Pickering 

As expected, President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy on the US Supreme Court left by the recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her nomination is unusual in many ways.

If Judge Barrett is confirmed by the Senate as the ninth Supreme Court Justice, she would be one of the youngest ever to serve – and more importantly, she can be expected to be on the court for decades, as American justices serve… MORE

What about the super-sperm-spreaders?

Visitors to the Genghis Khan Monument at Zonjin Boldog, Mongolia.

A controversial genetic study published in 2003 suggested that one in every 200 men alive today is a descendant of Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan. In central Asia, this figure rises to about 8% -- or about 16 million men.

Impossible today? Not so fast. There were superspreaders, to borrow from the jargon of Covid-19 news, who spread their genes far and wide in the 60s, 70s and 80s of the last century – but they’re called doctors, not warlords. Is there any research into the consequences of… MORE

Australian population growth slowed by pandemic

Bondi Beach in Sydney 

The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a blow to Australian population growth which will take decades to recover, demographers believe. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, net overseas migration – which accounts for about 60% of the country’s population growth --  is set to collapse from 154,000 in last financial year to just 31,000 in 2020-21.

But natural population increase – births minus deaths – is also slowing. Figures issued by the Bureau of Statistics this week indicate that in March Australia had its smallest natural increase in 14 years.

New forecasts suggest… MORE

Does Covid-19 spell the death of autonomy?

One casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic could be the bioethical principle of autonomy, argues Craig Klugman, of DePaul University, in a provocative blog post at the American Journal of Bioethics. Here are a few excerpts.

* * * * * * *

In the case of a response to COVID-19, perhaps our national and personal dysfunction might, in part, be the fault of bioethics’ legendary odyssey to move medicine from paternalism to autonomy. Part of the failure of this country to respond to COVID-19 as well as other nations have can be seen in the lack… MORE

‘The Economist’ backs DIY abortions

The Economist, perhaps the world’s most influential magazine, has come out strongly in support of DIY abortions. In a recent leader (editorial) it observed that access to abortion clinics during the Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult in many countries. To make it easier for women, a number of countries have relaxed restrictions on mail-order drugs which make it easy for women to have abortions without ever consulting a doctor face-to-face. 

Covid-19 has changed that. In March Britain’s health secretary approved a rule change which, in effect, gave a woman’s home the same status as an abortion clinic. Instead… MORE

Covid-19 response ignores patients with rare diseases

Another overlooked population in the Covid-19 pandemic is patients with rare diseases. In a BMJ blog two scientists, from the US and the UK, complain that many “patients with a rare disease [are] facing potentially serious health inequalities during the pandemic, in addition to the insufficient provision and care inadequacies they were already facing before covid-19”.

They point out that “75% of those affected by rare diseases are children who are medically fragile and suffer from complex medical challenges. Rare diseases are predominantly chronic in nature, arise from genetic causes, and are often life-threatening. Despite the fact that there… MORE

Once again, the Vatican slams euthanasia

If anyone were unsure of where the Catholic Church stood on assisted suicide and euthanasia, they can have no doubts now. In a lengthy document titled Samaritanus Bonus (“the good Samaritan”), the Vatican has released a lengthy response to the spread of “assisted dying”.

Assisted suicide or euthanasia or both are permitted in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, Colombia, Switzerland, eight states in the United States plus the District of Columbia, and two states in Australia. A number of other countries are considering legalisation.

The document is clear and emphatic: euthanasia is “an intrinsically evil act, in every situation… MORE

The US should brace itself for a “national wave of fertility fraud”

A new field of litigation has evolved in the United State: denouncing fertility fraud. In the latest episode, a nation-wide firm, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway, announced that it was pursuing two fertility doctors who allegedly used their own sperm a generation ago to get women pregnant and without informing them.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Adam Wolf, the lawyer handling the cases. He claims that hundreds of fertility fraud cases will emerge across the US as people begin to investigate their geneology using home DNA testing kids.

In the first case,MORE

“To boldly go where no man has gone before!” – forging space bioethics

Space colonisation is no longer just a dream of science fiction novelists. It is seriously being considered by governments and corporations. Space entrepreneur Elon Musk apparently believes that there will be a million people on Mars by the year 2050.

With all that activity the colonists will almost certainly be in need of a bioethicist. Polish philosopher Konrad Szocik is one candidate. In an article in the journal Bioethics, he outlines some of the issues that people will face in space. He says that “the new space bioethics should be a feminist new bioethics that is free… MORE

Should India repeal its ban on sex selection?

Gendercide is the word used nowadays to describe the missing millions of girls because of a preference for sons in India. According to the Invisible Girl Project, a lobby group, “More girls and women have been discriminated against and killed in the past century than any other modern-day genocide”. On average, one girl is aborted in India every minute. About 500,000 a year are selectively aborted.

There are laws against the practice which target doctors who provide ultrasound sex diagnosis and abortions of girls. However, the 1994 law banning sex-selective abortion was ineffective. It was amended in 2002, but… MORE

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