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Assisted Dying Leaves Vulnerable at Risk, Warns Alliance of Doctors

August 24, 2015

(The Telegraph) – Allowing doctors to help terminally ill people to take their own lives would ‘devalue the most vulnerable’ in society, a group of physicians has warned. Next month the House of Commons will debate whether to overturn the ban on assisted suicide. But a group of nearly 80 doctors across the country has written an open letter to MPs warning that many elderly and disabled people already feel pressured to end their own lives because they think they are a burden to relatives.

Anti-Abortion Group Releases 8th Planned Parenthood Video

August 24, 2015

(CNN) – A group targeting Planned Parenthood released another video Friday that purports to show the controversial organization breaking federal laws in its abortion procedures. The heavily edited two-minute video, from The Center for Medical Progress, is part of the group’s “Human Capital” series and features five different Planned Parenthood leaders from across the country speaking about potential sales and procedures interspersed with recollections from Holly O’Donnell, a former procurement technician for StemExpress, a biomedical research company.

New DNA Code Makes Synthetic Proteins

August 24, 2015

(The San Diego Union-Tribune) – The world’s first functioning organism with an expanded DNA alphabet has now met another milestone in artificial life: making proteins that don’t exist in nature. The organism, a bacterium created by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute, incorporates two synthetic DNA letters, called X and Y, along with the four natural ones, A, T, C and G. A team led by Floyd Romesberg published a study last year demonstrating that the organism, an engineered strain of E. coli, can function and replicate with the synthetic DNA.

Video Clip with California Fetal Tissue Firm Exec Follows Anti-Abortion Group’s Court Victory

August 24, 2015

(U.S. News and World Report) – An anti-abortion group released a snippet of video on Friday showing a California company executive discussing fetal tissue for research after a judge ruled the group could show the footage even if it was illegally recorded. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell rejected efforts by StemExpress to block the videos, though she said the company likely will prevail in its lawsuit claiming its privacy was violated by an anti-abortion activist posing as a biomedical company employee.

U.S. Appeals Court Stays Ruling on Nuns Challenge to Concentration Mandate

August 24, 2015

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Friday put on hold its ruling that an order of Roman Catholic nuns must comply with a contraception mandate to President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, giving the group time to petition the U.S. Supreme Court. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver granted a request by the Little Sisters of the Poor for a stay of the court’s earlier decision that the requirement did not substantially curb the nun’s religious liberty.

Interview: Julian Savulescu, Editor of JME

August 24, 2015

(BioEdge) – Julian Savulescu is the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, one of the world’s leading platforms for academic debate in bioethics. Australian-born, he is Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. Xavier Symons, deputy editor of BioEdge, asked him about the nuts and bolts of editing.

How Well Do War and Women’s Health Mix?

August 24, 2015

(NPR) – How well do war and women’s health mix? Colonel Anne Naclerio has been at the forefront of some of that research. She’s a medical doctor who chaired a task force on women’s health for the Army. And she’s just co-edited the book “Woman at War” which looks at the effects of deployment on women’s physical and mental health. Welcome to the program.

Transplanted Amniotic Stem Cells Offer Hope for Retinal Diseases

August 24, 2015

(GEN News) – Scientists in South Korea transplanted mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) derived from human amniotic membranes of the placenta (AMSCs) into laboratory mice modeled with oxygen-induced retinopathy. The treatment aimed at suppressing abnormal angiogenesis, which is recognized as the cause of many eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.

A Racial Gap in Attitudes Toward Hospice Care

August 24, 2015

(The New York Times) – Hospice use has been growing fast in the United States as more people choose to avoid futile, often painful medical treatments in favor of palliative care and dying at home surrounded by loved ones. But the Harrises, who are African-American, belong to a demographic group that has long resisted the concept and whose suspicions remain deep-seated.

Jimmy Carter’s Cancer Care Reflects Improved Drug Treatment

August 24, 2015

(Politico) – Carter’s decision comes amid a much more robust public conversation about care at the end of a individual’s life, one acknowledging that such care too often ignores patients’ wishes and brings unnecessary anguish. As a former president, Carter isn’t just any other patient, of course. He has access to the best medical care in the world and, despite the melanoma found in his liver and brain, appears to be incredibly active for a man in his 10th decade of life. Only months ago, he delayed surgery to remove the growth in his liver to finish a nationwide book tour.

Is Hospice Use Alone a Good Indicator of Quality of End-of-Life Care?

August 24, 2015

(Eurekalert) – Hospice use is commonly accepted as an indicator of quality of end-of-life care, however, when researchers in the U.S. studied variations in patterns of hospice use between states, they found troubling trends. They discuss the variations in the timing and duration of hospice enrollment and their implications in an article published in Journal of Palliative Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Palliative Medicine website until September 20, 2015.

Minnesota Woman’s Death Shows Need for End-of-Life Directive

August 24, 2015

(Duluth News Tribune) – A life-or-death decision by Maplewood paramedics, who stopped life support for an elderly woman at her husband’s insistence, underscores why individuals should have legal documents spelling out the care they want in what can be frantic and confusing end-of-life emergencies, health officials said Wednesday.

Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping Urged to End Forced Organ Harvesting from Falun Gong Practitioners

August 24, 2015

(PR Newswire) – China announced to end organ harvesting from executed prisoners in December 2014 and presented an allegedly operational organ donation system in unrealistic record time. Some international medical organizations rubber-stamped this initiative and within eight months rushed to welcome China as a new member of the international transplant community without allowing sufficient time to thoroughly verify the claims. The consequence of this porous scrutiny is detrimental and jeopardizes the lives of prisoners of conscience.

Cyborg Man, Who Sees Colour as Sound, Calls for Cyborg Rights – Video

August 24, 2015

(The Guardian) – Neil Harbisson, the world’s first certified cyborg, speaks to the media in Brisbane. Harbisson, who is completely colour blind, has an antenna with a camera at its end permanently implanted in his head that allows him to perceive colour as sound.

‘Machines of Loving Grace’ by John Markoff

August 24, 2015

(The New York Times) – We may not need to follow Musk’s call for regulation, but we probably need to assess the state of artificial intelligence and robotics, a task that John Markoff describes as looking for “common ground between humans and robots” in “Machines of Loving Grace.”

Call to Protect Health Workers in Conflict Zones

August 21, 2015

(BBC) – The World Health Organization is calling for “intensified action” to protect health workers treating people in crisis and conflict zone. It says hundreds of doctors, nurses and support staff have died in war zones and when fighting disease outbreaks, such as Ebola, so far this year. The UN agency says member states and all sides in conflicts must protect health workers and health systems. It is against international law to target health workers and centres. According to reports collated by the WHO, the highest number of attacks in 2014 were in Syria, followed by Iraq, Pakistan and Ukraine.

Can Health Care Be Cured of Racial Bias?

August 21, 2015

(NPR) – Even as the health of Americans has improved, the disparities in treatment and outcomes between white patients and black and Latino patients are almost as big as they were 50 years ago. A growing body of research suggests that doctors’ unconscious behavior plays a role in these statistics, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has called for more studies looking at discrimination and prejudice in health care.

How Can We Improve Data Sharing of Biomedical Research across the Globe?

August 21, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – With the globalization of biomedical research and growing concerns about possible pandemics of diseases such as HIV, SARS, and Ebola, international data-sharing practices are of growing interest to the biomedical science community. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of sharing data in low and middle-income settings? What challenges stand in the way for researchers in countries such as India, Kenya, and Vietnam? A new special issue of SAGE’s Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics (JERHRE) presents guidelines, protocols, models, and new resources to improve data sharing across the globe.

The Age of the Red Pen

August 21, 2015

(The Economist) – IN THE summer of 2005 Karen Aiach and her husband received heartbreaking news about their four-month-old daughter, Ornella: she had a rare disorder known as Sanfilippo syndrome. The prognosis was that, from about the age of three, the disorder would gradually rob her of most of her cognitive abilities. She would probably develop a severe sleep disorder and become hyperactive and aggressive. She was unlikely to live into her teens; she certainly would not survive them.

Europe’s Sinister Expansion of Euthanasia

August 21, 2015

(Washington Post) – Between October 2007 and December 2011, 100 people went to a clinic in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking region with depression, or schizophrenia, or, in several cases, Asperger’s syndrome, seeking euthanasia. The doctors, satisfied that 48 of the patients were in earnest, and that their conditions were “untreatable” and “unbearable,” offered them lethal injection; 35 went through with it.

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