Marches for and against abortion in the US capital

Two significant marches took place in Washington DC this weekend -- one in favour of abortion, and one against.

Friday saw protesters take to the streets in the 46th annual March For Life -- a pro-life rally that in recent years drawn crowds of over half a million people. This year’s march included high profile speakers such as US vice-president Mike Pence and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. The march is predominantly Christian, though this year also included representatives from several secular organisations that oppose abortion.  

“This is a movement founded on love… MORE

James Watson stripped of honorary titles after racist remarks

Geneticist James Watson has been rebuked by the scientific community after claiming in a new documentary that racial factors affect intelligence.

Watson, 95, is currently in hospital recovering from a car accident last October. Earlier last year he was interviewed by American broadcaster PBS as part of a documentary on his life.

 In the documentary, Watson said:

“...there’s a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it’s genetic”.

This is not the first time Watson has drawn a link between race… MORE

Should we allow an organ market?

Academics have discussed the ethics of selling organs for several decades. Yet the idea is now gaining traction in the popular media.  

The Washington Post published an opinion piece earlier this month defending the introduction of a regulated organ market in the United States.

Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle argued that the “utilitarian calculus” in favour of an organ market “seems overwhelming”:

“Of 126,000 people diagnosed annually with end-stage renal disease, only 20,000 will eventually receive a donated kidney…the government could compensate donors handsomely while still saving money. And… MORE

Royal College of Physicians polls members, likely to go neutral on euthanasia

The UK’s Royal College of Physicians (RCP) will next month poll its members on their views on assisted suicide and euthanasia. Specifically, the poll will ask respondents about their views on euthanasia, and whether they think that the College should remain opposed to “assisted dying”, or whether it should adopt a position of neutrality or support.

In a statement, the RCP said: “following this new poll, the RCP will adopt a neutral position until two-thirds of respondents say that it should be in favour of or opposed to a change in the law”. That is… MORE

Is there a difference between palliative sedation and euthanasia?

One common argument in favour of legalising euthanasia is that several accepted medical practices already involve hastening the death of patients. Some ethicists claim, for example, that we are already hastening patients’ deaths in palliative care contexts through the administration of toxic levels of opioids and sedatives to patients. In palliative sedation -- a relatively common procedure in end of life scenarios -- doctors administer strong doses of drugs such as midazolam to sedate a patient. Ostensibly this is done to relieve refractory symptoms, yet some suggest that doctors are fully aware that the drugs may bring about a quicker death. In light of this, some ethicists argue that we need not be so… MORE

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from BioEdge

We'll be on holidays until January. All the best for a successful 2019!


Canadian report discusses expanding eligibility for euthanasia

A long-awaited discussion paper on three controversial extensions to Canada’s euthanasia law has been released. It was only two-and a-half years ago, in June 2016, that Bill C-14 was passed amending the Criminal Code to legalise both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Now the government is already considering expanding eligibility.

Three important and contentious issues were passed over at the time. This report, by the Council of Canadian Academies, a government advisory board, reviews the pros and cons without making any recommendations.

The three areas are requests for euthanasia by mature minors, advance requests, and requests where mental illness is the… MORE

First baby born from uterus of a deceased donor

Currently, uterus donation is only available for women with family members who are willing to donate. With live donors in short supply, using wombs from deceased donors might give more women the option of pregnancy.

This now possible: the first baby gestated in a uterus from a deceased donor, has been born in Brazil. Previously, there have been 10 other uterus transplants from deceased donors attempted in the USA, Czech Republic and Turkey, but this is the first to result in a livebirth. The first childbirth following uterine transplantation from living donors occurred in Sweden in September 2013.

The new… MORE

Peter Singer defends academic freedom

Utilitarian bioethicist Peter Singer is best-known as a defender of controversial issues like euthanasia, infanticide and animal rights. But another side of the controversial philosopher is defending academic freedom.  

In a recent essay in the website Quillette, Singer speaks up for a young academic under attack for his views on IQ. Noah Carl has been awarded a Fellowship at St Edmund’s College at the University of Cambridge. He studies how intelligence and other psychological characteristics affect beliefs and attitudes. His most cited paper is “Verbal Intelligence is correlated with socially and economically liberal beliefs”.

IQ research is… MORE

Down from the ivory tower

A pro-abortion bioethicist from Brazil points out in Developing World Bioethics that in some countries, freedom of speech is less of a concern than personal safety for academics.

Debora Diniz, an anthropologist and law professor at the University of Brasilia, is a co-founder and researcher at Anis: Institute for Bioethics. She notes that Latin America and the Caribbean is “the most dangerous region in the world for human rights defenders. She writes:

In my case, being an academic who is engaged in women’s reproductive rights has led me to an unprecedented situation as an academic in Brazil: I… MORE

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