Is ‘financial abortion’ an idea whose time has come?

If women have a right to get right of a baby, why shouldn’t men? This radical idea has been kicking around for about 20 years, but seems to becoming more popular. In 1998 Brown University sociologist Frances K. Goldscheider floated the idea of a “financial abortion” in order to achieve true gender equality.

Earlier this year the youth wing of the Liberal Party in Sweden adopted the idea. Up until 18 weeks of pregnancy, it argued, men should have the right to relinquish all rights and responsibilities for their partner’s child. Unsurprisingly, the proposal went to the same place as the Young Liberals' proposals for legalizing necrophilia and consensual incest -- nowhere at all -- as it sounded absurdly sexist and anti-feminist.

But dyed-in-the-wool Australian feminist, comedian and author Catherine Deveney has revived the idea. The litmus test is simple:

Is it fair for people… click here to read whole article and make comments

UK scientists to push for 28-day limit on cultivation of embryos

British scientists want to extend the amount of time that they can cultivate human embryos in Petri dishes from 14 to 28 days. This is a highly controversial move, but scientists believe that it will result in great medical advances.

The 14-day limit has stood for 25 years, since the early days of IVF in the UK. After Baronness Mary Warnock issued an influential report on IVF legislation in 1984, the figure was enshrined in legislation in 1990. It was always an arbitrary number, but no one questioned it, mostly because it proved so difficult to keep the embryos alive more than a few days anyway. However, this year, Cambridge University scientist Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz cultivated human embryos for 13 days, opening up the possibility of extending the limit even further.

“Extending the rule would have benefits for our understanding of our own development, in explaining why it… click here to read whole article and make comments

Murky picture of IVF complications in UK

Five years ago, a paper published in the BMJ came to the startling conclusion that IVF was more dangerous than abortion in the UK. The 2007 UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Death recorded four deaths directly related to IVF via ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and three deaths related to multiple pregnancy after IVF. Thus, more deaths were related to OHSS than to abortion (two) despite many fewer IVF procedures (for example, there were 48,829 IVF cycles v 198,500 abortions in the UK in 2007).

Has the situation improved since then?

UK authorities are making it very difficult to find out, suggests Dr Geeta Nargund in BioNews. She points out that the UK’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, reported a “slight increase” in severe OHSS incidents in 2015. However, at 40%, the increase was far from slight. She writes indignantly:

The HFEA should… click here to read whole article and make comments

Doctor and nurse turn killers in Italian hospital


Doctors and nurses are the most trusted professionals, according to a UK poll earlier this year, just ahead of hairdressers and teachers, but absolutely thrashing politicians, real estate agents and journalists. This may account for the confidence with which supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide entrust them with the lives of the elderly and terminally ill.

However, this week’s news from Italy is a reminder that not all medicos are worthy of that trust. An anaesthetist and his nurse lover have been arrested near Milan over the deaths of at least five patients and possibly dozens more between 2011 and 2014. The deaths took place at Saronno Hospital, about 30 km north-west of Milan.

Leonardo Cazzaniga, 60, and nurse Laura Taroni, 40, are also suspected of having killed his father and her husband and her mother. It appears that they tricked Ms Taroni’s spouse into… click here to read whole article and make comments

Trump’s changing views on torturing terrorists

During his campaign, President-elect Trump said that he would endorse waterboarding, a form of torture, to extract information from terrorist suspects. “Believe me, it works,” he said in February:

Torture works. OK, folks? You know, I have these guys—”Torture doesn’t work!”—believe me, it works. And waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it’s not actually torture. Let’s assume it is. But they asked me the question: What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding.

As his nomination drew nearer, however, he retreated from this crowd-pleasing suggestion. He told the Wall Street Journal in May that “I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.”

And in his only reference to… click here to read whole article and make comments

Tom Price: Trump’s controversial pick as Health Secretary

Dr Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, has received a mixed reception. A Congressman from Atlanta, Georgia, he was an orthopaedic surgeon and was an assistant professor at Emory University. He is currently chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Inside Higher Ed reported that “higher education and medical research groups had nothing but praise for Price” this week. “I have always found him to be open to listening. And he’s very deliberative,” said Lizbet Boroughs, of the Association of American Universities. “In my dealings with him, he’s not a guy who makes snap judgments. He thinks about things. He considers the impact.”

The American Medical Association also endorsed him immediately. “Dr. Price has been a leader in the development of health policies to advance patient choice and market-based solutions as well as reduce excessive regulatory burdens that diminish… click here to read whole article and make comments

Pressure mounts for commercial surrogacy in Australia

As clinics offering cheap surrogacy overseas shut their doors to foreigners, pressure is mounting in Australia to permit commercial surrogacy.

In an article in this month’s Australia and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, an IVF doctor and a surrogacy broker argue that most Australians support commercial surrogacy and that the laws should be changed to permit it as long as it is carefully regulated. They report that most respondents to an online survey thought that the surrogate mothers and the intending parents should negotiate a price, although some thought that a fixed figure of $15,000 would be adequate.

Co-author Professor Kelton  Tremellen told the ABC that if legalisation were in place Australians could find a local surrogate "instead of being desperate and going to developing countries". Professional guidelines could include age restrictions on surrogates, mental health checks, mandatory cooling-off periods and adequate counselling.

click here to read whole article and make comments

Another abortion battle in Texas, this time over how to dispose of tissue

Disposing of aborted embryos has become a major political and ethical dispute in Texas. As of December 19, new regulations from the Health Department will force abortion clinics and hospitals to cremate or bury foetal tissue, no matter what the stage of development. Texas will be the first state to require this.

Until now, clinics in Texas used third-party special waste services for fetal remains. Previous rules permitted foetal remains to be combined with other medical tissue, ground up and treated as sewage, incinerated, or handled by some other approved process before being disposed of in a landfill.

The new rules are the latest battleground over abortion rights in Texas. Back in June, the US Supreme Court struck down Texas regulations which required abortions to be performed in hospital-like surgical centers and for doctors to have admitting rights in nearby hospitals. If implement, these regulations might have… click here to read whole article and make comments

Is there a last-minute hitch with 3-parent embryo trials?

Just as scientists in the UK are about to begin clinical trials with three-parent embryos, a study in Nature asserts that it may not work for some patients.

The technique is intended to help women who are carriers of mitochondrial disease to give birth to healthy children. The nuclear DNA is removed from an egg cell, leaving the diseased mitochondria behind; then the DNA is inserted into another woman’s denucleated egg to make use of her mitochondria; and then the egg is fertilised. The resulting embryo will grow, hopefully, into a disease-free infant with three genetic parents.

One hitch is that, with current techniques, some of the rogue mitochondrial DNA is dragged into the new cell along with the nuclear DNA. It was thought that this would be too small to matter. However, a paper published this week in Nature by mitochondrial geneticist Shoukhrat… click here to read whole article and make comments

The complications and practicalities of cryopreservation

Someday we might get the technique right    

The publicity surrounding the cryopreservation of the body of a 14-year-old British JS after her death from cancer has prompted more commentary.

Heather Conway, of Queen’s University Belfast, ruminated on the legal complications arising from reanimation after decades or even centuries on ice.

From a legal perspective, the problems are obvious – starting with the fact that the person has already been declared legally dead. How would, how could, the law reinstate them? Could that person reclaim assets that they owned in life, but had passed to family members on death? Could inheritance laws be undone? And if the person’s spouse is still alive but has now remarried, would that marriage still be valid when the former partner returns from the dead? Even before this happens, what is the status of the corpse… click here to read whole article and make comments

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