US Senator discovers that she is at least 1/1024 Native American

Senator Elizabeth Warren  

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has her eyes on the White House. With the election two years away, she is crafting her image as a progressive Democrat. However, one troubling issue is her family tree. Between 1986 and 1995 Warren was listed as a member of a racial minority in the Association of American Law Schools Directory. Harvard Law School also identified Warren as a "woman of color". This was based on a family tradition that she had Cherokee ancestors.  

Her political opponents are sceptical and media investigations have thrown doubt on the claim. President Trump ridicules… MORE

Win for conscientious objection in Norway

Norway’s Supreme Court has ruled in favour of conscientious objection and freedom of conscience for doctors. The Court found that Dr Katarzyna Jachimowicz acted within her rights when refusing to IUDs because of moral objections. The Court told government health authorities to respect the right to conscientious objection for medical professionals in their employment.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision marks an important step in the right direction, not only for doctors, but for people of faith in all professions. The ruling protects one of the most fundamental rights, the right to act in accordance with one’s deeply held beliefs. Dr. Jachimowicz… MORE

Stephen Hawking, transhumanist

Posthumous essays reveal that the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking believed in transhumanism. In Brief Answers to the Big Questions, he responds to queries posed to him by his readers over the long decades of his professional life and crippling illness. Will humanity survive? Remains to be seen. Should we colonize space? Yes. Does God exist? No. Do genetically modified humans threaten humanity? Yes.

 “I am sure that during this century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression,” he wrote.

“Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans. But some people… MORE

Queensland decriminalises abortion

Rally in Brisbane / Glenn Hunt AAP 

Queensland has become the latest Australian state to decriminalise abortion. On Wednesday MPs voted 50 to 41 to make the make current legislation more permissive for supporters of abortion and more restrictive for its opponents.

The Termination of Pregnancy Bill removes the procedure from the criminal code and allows abortion on request up to 22 weeks. After 22 weeks an abortion can be performed with approval of two doctors.

The new law forces conscientious objectors to refer women to a doctor who will perform an abortion. It also… MORE

Harvard calls for retraction of dozens of studies by stem cell researcher

A world-renown cardiac researcher and former Harvard Medical School professor has been accused of fabricating or falsifying the data in 31 of his published studies.

Piero Anversa is an Italian-born researcher who rose to fame in the early 2000s after publishing pioneering studies on the regeneration of the heart tissue by stem cells. Anversa moved to Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2007, and was appointed a full professor in 2010.

But Anversa left Harvard in 2015 after questions were raised about the veracity of his research. Now, officials from… MORE

Major American medical group drops opposition to euthanasia

One of America’s largest medical associations has dropped its long standing opposition to euthanasia, voting at a national meeting to instead adopt a position of “engaged neutrality”. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) represents doctors who specialise in family medicine, and has over 131,000 members.

At the Academy’s 2018 Congress of Delegates in New Orleans earlier this month, over two-thirds of delegates voted to change the position, with several representatives giving impassioned speeches about how the availability of euthanasia could help ease the suffering of patients.

The new resolution passed by the… MORE

Social prescribing and the bioethics of loneliness

This week the British government unveiled an ambitious plan to combat the country’s “loneliness epidemic”, including recommendations that doctors prescribe art lessons and dancing classes to lonely patients.

GPs will be encouraged to refer patients to social activities and voluntary services instead of drug-based treatments as part of the new cross-party government strategy unveiled by Prime Minister Theresa May.

“Loneliness is a reality for too many people in our society today… it can affect anyone of any age and background”, Mrs May said. “This strategy is only the beginning of delivering a… MORE

Should we be doing more to prepare for the next pandemic?

This year marks 100 years since the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish flu, an influenza pandemic that killed more than 50 million people worldwide, or 1 in 20 people alive at that time.

Some commentators have warned of the “reasonable probability” of another major pandemic that kills tens of millions of people worldwide in the next two decades. And many are concerned that we are not adequately prepared.

Writing in the magazine Foreign Policy, former Obama counterterrorism advisor Lisa Monaco and University of Washington health policy analyst Vin Gupta have criticised the… MORE

Controversy surrounds Canadian Medical Association’s withdrawal from world body

As we have already reported, the Canadian Medical Association resigned suddenly and dramatically from the World Medical Association at the WMA’s annual meeting in Reykjavik. The president of the CMA, Dr Gigi Osler, explained that the incoming president of the WMA, Dr Leonid Eidelman, had plagiarised a few sentences from press releases and blogs and from a speech given by the former CMA president, Dr Chris Simpson.

"As an organization that holds itself as the arbiter of medical ethics at the global level, the WMA has failed to uphold its own standards,” said Dr Gigi Osler, the current CMA… MORE

Will the male of the species go the way of the dodo?

Are men becoming obsolete? This dire news (or possibly good news in some circles) has been voiced many times as stem cell research unfolded over the past 20 years. Now there is an experiment to give it some credibility.

From two mothers, Chinese researchers have bred healthy mice which went on to have normal pups of their own. They achieved this feat by altering stem cells from a female mouse and injecting them into the eggs of another. Of 210 embryos, 29 survived.

Mice pups from two fathers were also born using a similar but more complex approach, but… MORE

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