March 22nd, 2014 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
By Maureen L Condic, Public Discourse
The creation of three-parent embryos is not an innocuous medical treatment—it is a macabre form of eugenic human cloning.
The FDA is currently debating whether to approve testing of three procedures designed to enable women with a mitochondrial disease to produce healthy children.
Mitochondria are small structures within cells that supply the energy required for life. They are unusual in that they have their own DNA that produces some of the molecules required for energy metabolism. And when this mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has a mutation, medical conditions affecting energy production can result. A curiosity of mammalian biology is that all the mitochondria an individual has are inherited from the mother. So, if the mother carries a mutation in her mtDNA, her children will have the same mutation.
Proponents of conducting human experiments to generate “three-parent embryos” cast this procedure as a beneficent therapeutic approach to treat women with mitochondrial disease and allow them to bear healthy children. In reality, it is a macabre form of eugenic cloning, in which a human being with a medical condition is killed and his or her parts are used to create a new human being with an improved biological state.
March 21st, 2014 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
By Jacob Rees-Mogg Telegraph
The issue of three parent embryos – or rather mitochondrial transfer – has recently been debated in the House of Commons. It is highly controversial and, therefore, important to understand what is happening on a scientific and ethical basis.
Mitochondria are the organelles within every cell responsible for the generation of cellular Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) energy. It passes entirely in the maternal line and can carry serious diseases such as haemophilia. If the mitochondria of an egg were replaced with healthy mitochondria from a donor egg then this, in theory, would eradicate the disease from being passed on.
There are two means of replacing the mitochondria. First, there is maternal spindle transfer (MST) which takes place before In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). The spindle, which carries the genes in the nucleus of the egg, is removed from the healthy donor egg and replaced by a spindle taken from the egg of the disease-carrying mother. All other parts of the donor egg, including the healthy mitochondria, are left in place. The combined egg is then fertilised by the father’s sperm so in essence the embryo has three parents: the spindle mother, the egg donor mother and the father.
The second way is via a technique called pronuclear transfer (PNT) whereby two embryos are created by IVF. One is the embryo of the commissioning women – which will have its mother’s affected mitochondrial genes – and the other is the healthy embryo of an egg donor. The embryos are combined using a method somewhat similar to that in the cloning of Dolly the sheep. At the one-cell stage, the donor embryo’s pronuclei containing the nuclear genes are removed, killing that embryo. The partially-gutted donor embryo with its healthy mitochondria is then used to form a new embryo when the pronuclei “harvested” from the commissioning woman’s embryo are inserted. Harvesting the pronuclei from the commissioning woman’s embryo destroys that embryo.
March 8th, 2014 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
By Michael Cook, Bio Edge
The controversy over three-parent embryos could soon be old hat. Writing in one of the world’s leading journals, one of Britain’s best-known bioethicists has outlined a strategy for creating children with four or more genetic parents. He calls it “multiplex parenting”.
John Harris, of the University of Manchester, and two colleagues, César Palacios-González and Giuseppe Testa contend in the Journal of Medical Ethics (free online) that this is one of many exciting consequences of using stem cells to create synthetic eggs and sperm. (Or as they prefer to call them, in vitro generated gametes (IVG).)
After the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells in 2007, theoretically any cell in the body can be created from something as simple as a skin cell. Mice have already been born from sperm and eggs created from stem cells. Harris and his colleagues believe that the day is not far off when scientists will be able to do the same with humans. In their paper, they spin an ethical justification for this and outline some possible uses.
First, is it ethical? Of course it is, so long as experiments on mice show that it is safe. After all, they write, this is already a much higher ethical bar than the one used for the first IVF babies. “If impractically high precautionary thresholds were decisive we would not have vaccines, nor IVF, nor any other advance. Nothing is entirely safe.” Besides, any children brought into the world are better off than if they never existed.
From Jennifer Lahl, The Witherspoon Institute
Legislative battles are heating up across the United States on the issues of surrogacy contracts and the regulation of assisted reproduction. If we are truly concerned for the welfare of women and children, we must oppose such practices.
On January 27, the Kansas State Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare conducted hearings on proposed legislation that would make surrogate parent contracts void and unenforceable in the state. For those who enter into such arrangements, the offense would be punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and/or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than a year. The bill mirrors the current law in the District of Columbia. The law in Michigan is even stricter, with fines of up to $50,000 and jail time for those who break the law.
During his testimony, Dr. David Grainger, a fertility doctor who opposes the bill and practices in Wichita, Kansas, stated that, as he contemplated his testimony with “the bill in one hand and my Bible in the other,” he realized that this bill “would have criminalized the most important surrogacy pregnancy this world has ever seen: the verbal contract Mary had with God to carry and give birth to Jesus.”
February 28th, 2014 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
By James Gallagher, BBC News
By Jennifer Thieme, Ricochet
A Kansas court ruled that a parent cannot contract away his parental responsibilities in sperm donation, unless a doctor does the procedure. If the doctor does it, the sperm donor will never be considered the father from a legal point of view. That's the way the law works in Kansas in sperm donation. The court also said this:
"A person cannot contract away his or her obligations to support their child. The right for support belongs to the child, not the parents."
The court rejected that this man was simply a "sperm donor" and ruled that he was the father of the child, and did so on the basis of what is just for the child.
Why this matters:
The legal category of "sperm donor" is an interesting one. It's an artificially constructed legal "wedge" that uses the state to keep children permanently separated from their fathers. It also serves as a "wedge" to keep men and women away from each other by sending a specific type of policy signal: that men and women don't need to work together to raise the children that come about when their gametes are combined. By developing these artificial "wedges," the state and the adults involved are all making an implicit assumption about what the child will want in his own future, without ever asking the child.
By Charlie Cooper, Independent
A growing epidemic of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) linked to a rise in unprotected sex and club drug use represents “a crisis for gay men”, a leading expert has said.
Rates of gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis in gay men have soared in recent years, official figures show, while new HIV infections have also reached record highs.
Health chiefs from around the UK will meet in London this week to share evidence and devise new strategies to tackle the problem, which has seen record highs in infection rates for several STIs.
Experts say that, paradoxically, the rise of successful drug treatments for HIV has contributed to increased infection rates for other STIs. More men are having unprotected sex in the assumption that they no longer need to wear a condom to protect themselves from the virus, once considered a death sentence before the advent of effective anti-retroviral drugs. Other men are lowering their risk by ‘sero-sorting’, or ensuring partners have the same HIV status as them, but then having unprotected sex, risking the transmission of other infections.
February 4th, 2014 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
By David Lindsay
Well, of course.
We have long since decided that femaleness, simply in itself, was a medicable condition requiring the pumping of women's and girls' bodies full of highly poisonous substances in order to stop those bodies from doing what they do naturally.
That is the very opposite of medicine. And it is being done in order to make women and girls permanently available for the sexual gratification of men and boys.
But we now seem to have decided to treat maleness in the same way, and to get in even younger than we did with femaleness. The prescription of drugs to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder increased by more than 50 per cent in the six years to August 2013.
By Jennifer Lahl, Public Discourse
Assistive reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization not only involve serious medical risks, they also disrupt family life and commodify human beings.
November 13th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
By Trevor Stammers, Catholic Medical Quarterly
As an academic who teaches bioethics and medical law, it is my privilege also to learn from my students – undergraduate and postgraduate alike. Just recently one of my MA students based in Australia, posted the following contribution on our online discussion board – “ The politics of abortion make it incredibly difficult for those who are critical of current practices to be heard in the public square. In the case of conscientious objection, what should be a straightforward moral appeal for freedom to perform acts that are not morally objectionable to the individual (and not to perform acts which are morally objectionable), becomes a question of the rights of women in general. This becomes doubly difficult if, as a critic, one is also a man. Nevertheless, the notion that such conscientious objection can be called into question is a spurious idea that betrays a bizarrely modern commitment to autonomy”.
The autonomy referred to here is of course that of the patient (as the student rightly goes on to comment), but one wonders from recent events in the UK, what place will remain in a few years time for the autonomy of health care professional to be exercised in expressing conscientious objection ?
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is the largest, publicly-funded health service in the world. Serving a population of over sixty million people, every year the NHS receives over £100 billion of tax-payers’ money. Furthermore, it employs more than 1.7 million people, including 120,000 hospital doctors, 40,000 GPs, 400,000 nurses, and 25,000 ambulance staff. Given the NHS’s social, political, and economic importance, the large numbers of people it both serves and employs, and the gravity of the matters with which it deals, it is not surprising that the place of moral concerns within it have been subject to considerable, and often heated, discussion and argument. Not surprisingly, secularist voices have been prominent here — and nowhere more so, than on the question of conscience in healthcare provision.
There is good evidence that a doctor’s beliefs influence patient care. This is especially true with regard to for example sexual health and end-of-life issues. A carefully designed study of the influence of doctors’ religious beliefs (or lack of them) on their care of the dying, for example, showed that ‘doctors who described themselves as non-religious were more likely than others to report having given continuous deep sedation until death, having taken decisions they expected or partly intended to end life.’ [1, p. 677] Conscience is not, of course, the sole preserve of religious people — there are a great many doctors who identify with secular spiritual traditions, or who have no religious or spiritual tradition at all, who would equally refuse to authorize or participate in particular (legal) medical procedures on the grounds of conscience. Nevertheless, such objections are indeed frequently influenced and justified on the basis of specifically religious convictions.
by Peter Saunders, MercatorNet
October 29th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
by Hilary White, LifeSite News
A group of thirty-four Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), have written a strongly worded letter to the British government calling for a halt to the creation of so-called “three-parent” embryos in IVF labs.
By Holly Watt and Claire Newell, Telegraph
MP insists that terminations based on unborn child’s gender are illegal, despite prosecutor’s decision that operations may be carried out
Health ministers have said abortion on the grounds of gender alone is “unacceptable and illegal” in defiance of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who said the law does not “prohibit gender-specific abortions”.
The Department of Health has asked medical regulators to update the advice and guidance on carrying out abortions, amid concerns that Keir Starmer’s decision effectively legalises sex-selective abortions.
On Monday, Mr Starmer published a justification for the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to prosecute two doctors who agreed to arrange illegal abortions based on the sex of an unborn baby.
As part of his analysis, Mr Starmer used advice from the British Medical Association (BMA), which states that there might be circumstances “in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of foetal sex would be lawful”.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has asked Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, for clarification on the issue.
Read also: Choose who to kill by Peter Ould
Why are feminists silent on the deliberate abortion of girls? by Cristina Odone, Telegraph
Britain’s abortion laws are inherently absurd by Melanie McDonagh, Spectator
September 24th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
by Alana S Newman, LifeSite News
What are the rights of donor-conceived people? To ask this question is to suggest that we have different rights from everyone else—and so we do, because we’ve allowed it.
By Sophie Borland, Mailonline
The number of under-25s being diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases has climbed almost 50 per cent in ten years.
Experts are particularly concerned about the rise of gonorrhoea with rates increasing by a fifth in the past 12 months.
They believe the trend is due to a new super-strain of the disease which cannot easily be treated with antibiotics.
A report by Public Health England shows there were 448,422 new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 2012, including chlamydia, herpes and genital warts.
The total is up by 5 per cent on the previous year and 46 per cent higher than 2003, when figures were first collected.
Experts say the rise is due to teenagers and adults in their early 20s having unprotected sex.
But Labour said the figures show a sharp increase in the past three years which they blamed on the Government’s sex education policy.
By Peter Saunders, CMF
The ‘One of Us’ campaign underlines the moment of conception as the beginning of human life, and aims to prevent any funding of activities which result in the destruction of human embryos, particularly focusing on areas of research, development aid and public health.
It was launched in January 2013 by leaders in twenty European countries and follows a European Court of Justice ruling in 2011, in a lawsuit brought by Greenpeace, that human life begins at conception and deserves legal protection (See my previous blogs on the ruling here and here).
‘One of Us’ is a European Citizen Initiative, a new method provided in the Treaty of Lisbon for proposing legislation in the European Union.
Such an initiative must have the support of at least 7 of the 27 member states and each individual state involved must collect a minimum number of signatures based on its overall population.
If the campaign gathers one million signatures, the European Parliament is duty-bound to schedule a debate on the issue.
July 20th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off
by John Jalsevac, LifeSite News
A Swedish study has found that children conceived with a certain type of in vitro fertilization (IVF) have a 51 percent increased risk of intellectual impairment – defined as an IQ score below 70. They also linked the procedure to a small increased risk for autism in cases of twins and triplets.
By Peter Saunders, CMF
The moral status of the embryo is one of the key pressure-points in ethical debates about post-coital contraception, therapeutic cloning, pre-implantation diagnosis, artificial reproduction, embryo research and cloning.