an information resource
for orthodox Anglicans

Presumed Consent – Organ Donation in Wales

July 3rd, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off

From Catholic News

Faith leaders continue to voice their clear opposition to "any weakening of the principle that the donation of organs should be free and voluntary".

In a letter written ahead of the final vote in the Welsh Assembly, Tuesday 2 July, on the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill, leaders from the Catholic Church, the Church of England, the Muslim Council for Wales, the Jewish Representative Council, the Wales Orthodox Mission, Patient Concern and Care amongst others have outlined their principled opposition to presumed consent.

They describe 'deemed consent' as "a contradiction in terms and a misleading fiction".

The leaders ‘remain unconvinced that a change in the law to accommodate this fiction will in itself lead to any increase in organ transplantation in Wales.’

They argue that if "the Welsh Government is determined to press ahead with this unnecessary legislation, then the very least that can be done is for it to honour its commitment to introduce soft opt-out legislation where the views and feelings of the bereaved are respected."

For full text of letter and signatories read here

Read also:  Organ donation opt out plan passed in Wales by John Bingham, Telegraph

‘Presumed consent’ for organ donation is both unnecessary and unethical by Peter Saunders, CMF

Mandatory organ donation: Welsh Assembly nationalises the human body from Cranmer

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Three parent embryos for mitochondrial disease – unsafe, unethical and unnecessary

June 29th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off

by Peter Saunders, CMF

Britain is planning to become the first country in the world to offer controversial ‘three-parent’ fertility treatments to families who want to avoid passing on mitochondrial diseases to their children.

The BBC reports this morning on the new techniques which it is claimed will children born through 'three-person IVF' who would carry genetic material from each of three different people.

There are about 50 known mitochondrial diseases (MCDs), which are passed on in genes coded by mitochondrial (as opposed to nuclear) DNA. They range hugely in severity, but for most there is presently no cure and little other than supportive treatment.

It is therefore understandable that scientists and affected families want research into these two related ‘three-parent embryo’ techniques (pronuclear transfer and maternal spindle transfer) to go ahead. But there are good reasons for caution.

This is not about finding a cure. It is about preventing people with MCD being born. We need first to be clear that these new technologies, even if they are eventually shown to work, will do nothing for the thousands of people already suffering from mitochondrial disease or for those who will be born with it in the future.

Read here
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Three-parent embryos for mitochondrial disease? Twelve reasons for caution

June 28th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Peter Saunders, CMF

The media is buzzing today with the news that Britain is planning to become the first country in the world to offer controversial‘three-parent’ fertility treatments to families who want to avoid passing on mitochondrial diseases to their children (See BBC, Guardian,Times(£), Independent,Daily Mail and Telegraph).

The Department of Health announced yesterday that it would draw up draft guidelines to allow fertility clinics to offer the technique. The proposed guidelines would be released for public comment later this year, and Parliament would vote on a final version in 2014.
Scientists are currently researching two main three-parent IVF techniques. The first, being developed at Britain's Newcastle University and known as pronuclear transfer (PNT), swaps DNA between two fertilised human eggs. Another, called maternal spindle transfer (MST), swaps material between the mother's egg and a donor egg before fertilisation.
The BBC is heralding it as a ‘ground-breaking technique for preventing serious genetic disease’ and a ‘bold step for science and society’. Media reports are full today of reassurances that that mitochondrial DNA only accounts for 37 out of our 20,000 human genes and that this therefore is a small step that will be undertaken only under ‘strict safeguards’.
Most people accessing broadcast media will hear heart-rending accounts of affected families and will get the message that those opposing the move are Luddites and religious fundamentalists on the lunatic fringe.
But there are actually very good reasons we should not be going down this route. Here are just twelve for starters:
Read here
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Babies with three parents could be born by 2015 after controversial genetic treatment gets green light

June 28th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Jenny Hope, Mailonline

  • Process involves replacing defective DNA with material from a donor egg
  • Critics say it is first step to creating 'designer babies'
  • But Government medical officer says 'fundamental DNA' will not be affected

The first baby with three parents could be born as early as 2015 after a landmark decision to move ahead on a controversial genetic treatment.

Britain could become the first country to sanction the creation of babies with three genetic parents, despite fears it might lead to ‘designer babies’.

The Government will publish draft regulations later this year that will bring techniques a step closer to giving women affected by devastating hereditary diseases the chance to have healthy children.

The techniques involve replacing defective DNA in the mother’s egg with material from a donor egg.

The resulting healthy child would effectively have two mothers and a father.

For the first time the ‘germ line’ of inherited DNA from the mother would be altered which, critics say, marks a turning point in the ethics of test-tube babies.

Read here

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Sacking GP from government drugs advisor post for ‘anti-gay’ views was lawful

June 27th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics, Religious Liberty Comments Off

From UK Human Rights

Dr Hans-Christian Raabe lost his judicial review challenge to the revocation of his appointment as the GP member of the Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). His appointment was revoked less than a month after he had accepted an offer to join the ACMD, as a result of certain views about homosexuality expressed in a paper he had co-written in Canada some 6 years earlier.

This case deals with a heady cocktail of controversial issues, ranging from same-sex marriage to the level of crystal meth use in gay clubs, and from paedophilia to the ostracising of Christians because of their religious beliefs. Indeed, it hits so many hot-button issues at once that it is very surprising it has not yet received much media coverage, despite the judgment being handed down on 20 June.
The Facts
Dr Raabe had originally been appointed as the GP member of the ACMD in January 2011. Shortly afterwards it came to the attention of the Home Office through various media reports that Dr Raabe had co-authored a paper in 2005 entitled “Gay marriage and Homosexuality: some medical comments”. The purpose of this document had been to influence the then-ongoing debate about the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Canada.
Read here
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Embryonic stem cells from cloned human embryos – six reasons for caution

May 17th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Peter Saunders, CMF

The newspapers are full today of the news that scientists in the US state of Oregon have produced embryonic stem cells (ESCs) using the same cloning technology (somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)) that created Dolly the sheep.

The original paper was published in the scientific journal Cell (Reutersand Naturegive helpful reviews).
Shoukhrat Mitalipov and his colleagues took skin cells and transplanted their nuclei into eggs from paid donors from which the nuclei had been removed. Some resulting embryos were grown to the blastocyst stage (about 150 cells) at which point embryonic stem cells were harvested and developed into stem cells lines from which a range of more specialised body cells were derived.
Some are claiming that this might be the first step in producing stem cells that can be used to treat conditions in which there is cell loss like Parkinson’s, diabetes and spinal cord damage.
The huge media coverage this story has generated is due to the obsession of the British media with embryonic stem cell technology, the fact that this is the first time embryonic stem cell lines have been derived from cloned human embryos and the emotion generated by conditions for which there is currently no cure.
Amidst the hype let me register six reasons for caution.
Read here
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Fears amid first stem cells from cloned human embryos

May 17th, 2013 Jill Posted in Ethics, Medical Ethics Comments Off

From The Christian Institute

US scientists have, for the first time, recovered stem cells from cloned human embryos, in a move raising serious ethical concerns.

Critics warn that the technique, which is similar to the one used to clone Dolly the sheep, could pave the way for ‘designer’ babies being cloned in laboratories.

But the team from Oregon Health and Science University, led by Dr Shoukhrat Mitalipov, dismissed the concerns.
Dr David King, founder of Human Genetics Alert, called for an international ban on human cloning.

He said it was “irresponsible in the extreme” to have published details of the study.

Josephine Quintavalle, from the group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, questioned the need for the research when more simple ways of making customised stem cells already exist.

Read here

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Lord Falconer’s ‘assisted dying’ bill takes cue from Abortion Act

May 15th, 2013 Jill Posted in Euthanasia, Medical Ethics Comments Off

By John Bingham, Telegraph

Terminally ill patients will be able to obtain a fatal dose of drugs to kill themselves if they can persuade two doctors that they have made up their mind to end their lives, under plans being put before Parliament today.

A long-awaited bill being published by the former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer has parallels with the 1967 Abortion Act by placing responsibility for authorising the action in the hands of two doctors.

They will be required to sign statements saying that they believe that the patient is likely to have less than six months to live and that they have reached a “clear and settled intention” to end their life.

The patient would then be prescribed a fatal dose of drugs which they would “self administer”, under a system similar to that operating in the US state of Oregon.

But it is understood the proposed British system would allow doctors, or specially nominated nurses, to assist patients who cannot take the drugs unaided.

And they would be required to deliver the fatal prescription in person to the patient’s home and must stay there – although not necessarily in the same room – either while they take it or decide against doing so.

Read here

Read also:  A charter for killing grannies and the malign meddling of Labour's Lord High Busybody by Quentin Letts, Mailonline

Lord Falconer’s assisted dying bill is an insult to everyone, God and Politics in the UK

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Royal College of Psychiatrists evidence of gay ‘marriage’ ‘seriously flawed’: Core Issues Trust

May 13th, 2013 Jill Posted in Gay Activism, Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Hilary White, LifeSite News

Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists has been accused of bias and submitting “seriously flawed” and even “fraudulent” evidence to the government’s consultation on the gay “marriage” bill.

The Core Issues Trust has written to the College, saying that the evidence submitted to both the government and the Church of England’s consultations on the issue showed that the College was acting as a tool of the homosexualist political lobby.
The College’s submissions were “seriously flawed, distorting medical science and replacing it with gay ideology,” and “impinge deeply on [its] integrity,” the Trust said.
The Core Issues Trust is a Christian-based organisation that advocates psychotherapy for homosexuality, which it regards as a psycho-sexual disorder. The College’s submission, the Trust said, “appears to be ideologically driven, by an author with undeclared interests, distorting science to achieve political ends."
The letter, by Dr. Peter May and Dermot O’Callaghan was addressed to Professor Sue Bailey, the President of the College. In the two reports submitted to the government and the Church of England, the College had testified to a “biological” cause of homosexuality, ignoring evidence pointing to an environmental origin for the disorder, said the Trust.
The letter also accuses the College’s submissions, given by Professor Michael King, of “speaking with two voices” depending upon the expectations of the audience.
Read here
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GMC backs down on requiring doctors to provide ‘gender reassignment’ as lobby group brings 98 patient complaints

March 27th, 2013 Jill Posted in Gender, Medical Ethics, Transgender Comments Off

By Peter Saunders, CMF

The General Medical Council has backed down on requiring doctors to provide 'gender reassignment' just as a lobby group has brought forward 98 patient complaints.
Last April I posted a controversial blog titled ‘The GMC needs to explain why it is forcing doctors to provide sex change operations’
The blog was prompted by new draft guidance issued by the General Medical Council which implied that doctors who refused to provide ‘gender reassignment’ risked being struck off the medical register.

The draft guidance, ‘Personal beliefs and medical practice’ allowed doctors to opt out of providing procedures or treatments to which they had a conscientious objection provided that they made sure that ‘the patient has enough information to arrange to see another doctor who does not hold the same objection as you’.

But it made an exception in the case of ‘providing gender reassignment’ (P5 footnote) for which it said doctors had no right not to be involved.
It justified this stance on the grounds that these ‘procedures’ are ‘only sought by a particular group of patients (and cannot therefore be subject to a conscientious objection)’ under the Equality Act 2010.
Read here
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Britain on course for ‘three parent babies’

March 20th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Nick Collins, Telegraph

A major public consultation found that a majority of people would back the therapy, under which a small part of a mother's genetic material would be swapped with that of a healthy donor to eliminate the risk of passing on a host of hereditary diseases to her child.

Although many people registered ethical concerns about the process, most of those who responded to the consultation said it was justified if further tests prove the technique is safe and can eliminate the risk of genetic conditions like muscular dystrophy.

By removing faulty DNA from the mitochondria, which is always inherited from the mother, experts believe the child and future generations could be spared from a collection of devastating hereditary diseases affecting the heart, muscles and brain.

The Department of Health, which ordered the consultation last year, must now decide whether to make Britain the first country in the world to permit the treatment, paving the way for its use in clinics.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which carried out the consultation, advised ministers that if they do legalise the therapy, donors and patients should remain anonymous and have no right to contact one another.

Read here


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5,000 children without a father are born through fertility treatment: And now lesbians will get IVF on taxpayer

February 20th, 2013 Jill Posted in Children/Family, Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Daniel Martin and Jenny Hope, Mailonline

  • Number of births surged since the law was controversially changed in 2008
  • Women aged 40 to 42 will also now qualify for state-funded fertility treatment
  • Lesbians with proven infertility will also be able to get free IVF

Five thousand fatherless children have been born to lesbian couples and single mothers following fertility treatment in the past decade, the Daily Mail can reveal.
The figure emerged on the day that it was announced that lesbians and older women are due to get free IVF on the taxpayer.

Women aged 40 to 42 will qualify for state-funded fertility treatment for the first time, according to the guidelines from the health spending watchdog NICE. Previously, the watchdog did not recommend IVF on the NHS for the over-39s.

And – despite fears the cash-strapped health service cannot afford extra burdens – women in same-sex relationships with proven infertility will also be able to get free IVF. Up until now, lesbian couples have had to pay privately for such treatment.

Read here

Read also:  IVF and the NHS: I don't think the state should prioritise being a stork over being a lifesaver by Cristina Odone, Telegraph


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February 20th, 2013 Jill Posted in Children/Family, Medical Ethics Comments Off

By David Lindsay

What else that cost as much as IVF but which had such a failure rate – frankly, it doesn’t work – would be available on the NHS?

Add to that the fact that each year, 80 women who have become pregnant through IVF have abortions. Read that one over again. Back in March 2009, even the liberal "Left" media (are there others?) finally realised what the rest of us had been saying for years.

And now the age limit is to be put up. Again. It was put this time last year as well, when same-sex couples were also given an entitlement. Only under the Conservatives. Of course.

Meanwhile, NaProTech, Natural Procreative Technology, is an ethical, healthy and far more successful alternative to IVF. Unlike IVF, in NaProTech no embryonic children are killed or exposed to harm in the laboratory, and couples’ relationships are strengthened.

As they are also strengthened by Natural Family Planning, which is more effective than anything else if it is taught properly (as is admitted even by the WHO, hardly a Vatican puppet), which involves no poisoning of women in order to make them permanently available for the sexual gratification of men, which can only be practised by faithful couples, and the practitioners of which almost, if almost, never divorce.

Read here
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More IVF for gay couples and over-40s on the NHS

February 18th, 2013 Jill Posted in Children/Family, Medical Ethics Comments Off

Read here

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NHS: The Jimmy Savile of state institutions?

February 10th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Jonathan Bracey-Gibbon

If, as it seems, MidStaffs is not atypical but the tip of an horrendous iceberg, it could be the beginning of the end of the NHS in its current form

Is the NHS the Jimmy Savile of statist institutions? A supposed 'national treasure' that time reveals to be a venal, self-serving, perverted ogre. But rather than hiding in plain sight, in this case hiding behind a pall of leftist dogma.

Following David Francis QC's damning, yet otherwise spineless, report on MidStaffs we now know what getting away with murder looks like. 1200 people died and not one individual is accountable.

David Cameron, who seems intent on destroying his own party this week, had the gall to suggest that no blame should be placed on individuals, that Mid Staffs was not typical, and seemed happy not to call 13 years of Labour NHS stewardship to account. One can only hope some sort of political detente is going on here to smooth the way for the depoliticisation of the NHS.

Rather like the Savile affair, the publicity given to Francis preceded torrents of anecdotal evidence which shows just how craven Cameron's statement really was.

[...]  How ironic, as calls for French, German, Austrian, Belgian and Dutch systems grow in volume, for systems where patients get universally provided insurance and, heaven forbid, there is no NHS, but more GPs per capita, cleaner hospitals, convenient appointments, better diagnostics, even better food. Something, er, to be envious of.

If, as it seems, MidStaffs is not atypical but the tip of an horrendous iceberg, it could be the beginning of the end of the NHS in its current form, and in its hour of need. The silence of the left is deafening. It seems to know what's coming. How's about that then?

Read here

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Sperm donors can seek more parental rights

February 1st, 2013 Jill Posted in Children/Family, Ethics, Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Andrew Hough and John Bingham, Telegraph

Sperm donors were given the legal right yesterday to apply for regular contact with their biological children following a landmark High Court ruling.

Following the judgment that could affect thousands of couples, men who help families conceive may now win the right to play a part in the child’s life even though they are not currently raising them.

The ruling, the first of its kind, declared that a sperm donor does not need to have a sexual relationship with a mother in order to influence the child’s upbringing.

Last night experts warned that the case could have far-reaching consequences on couples — both heterosexual and gay – considering using a sperm donor.

They urged couples facing the “scary prospect” of a sperm donor seeking contact with his biological child to establish the child rearing equivalent of a prenuptial agreement or co-parenting deal.

Yesterday’s judgment, from the court’s Family Division, centred on a complex dispute between two lesbian couples who were friends with two homosexual men.

One of the men is the biological father of both the children of one of the lesbian couples while the other man is the biological father of a child being brought up by the other female couple.

Read here

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Medical journal: pharmacists must give out morning-after pill

February 1st, 2013 Jill Posted in Ethics, Medical Ethics, Religious Liberty Comments Off

By Madeleine Teahan, Catholic Herald

The right of pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning-after pill to customers on conscience grounds should be abolished, according to academics writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics.
Dr Cathal Gallagher, a pharmacist at the University of Hertfordshire, has written a paper with three other academics arguing that pharmacists who do not distribute the morning-after pill demand “the power of veto over the liberty of others, and over the implementation of public policy”.
Under current law, a pharmacist who is opposed to the morning-after pill can refuse to sell the pill but they must direct the customer to another provider.
But the academics argue that there is a little moral difference between a pharmacist refusing to sell the morning -after pill and a pharmacist directing a customer to where they can buy the pill.
Read here
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Lord Carlile: medics should face GMC over Liverpool Care Pathway

January 28th, 2013 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Tim Ross and Simon Caldwell, Telegraph

Lord Carlile of Berriew said too many patients were being denied drugs, food and water in their last days of life without having given their “informed consent”.

The peer called for the Liverpool Care Pathway to be replaced, comparing it to the River Styx, which marked the threshold to the underworld in Greek mythology.

Lord Carlile, a QC and the former independent reviewer of terrorism laws, said many doctors acted “with great care” when placing patients on the pathway.

However, standards varied across the NHS to a “worrying” degree, leading to “very serious problems”, he warned.

The Liverpool Care Pathway was designed to ease the suffering of patients at the end of their lives, and can involve the removal of drugs and nutrition if these are not judged to be of benefit.

However, it has come under intense scrutiny in recent months amid concerns that up to half of patients are not told before being placed on the care plan.

Read here

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The New Sexual Predators

September 26th, 2012 Jill Posted in Medical Ethics, Morality Comments Off

By Alana S Newman, The Witherspoon Institute

Young women now have to defend themselves not only from stereotypical sexual predators, but also from older women and gay men who seek their eggs.

Value depends on scarcity. In the world of human reproduction, the most valuable entity is the fertile female—specifically, her eggs and her womb.

The fierce politics surrounding female fecundity and women’s reproductive rights rests not only on a woman’s ability to create new life, but also on the incredible amount of commitment and risk involved when her eggs and her womb are accessed for procreation. Since women are fertile for a shorter period than men, since gestation takes forty long weeks, and since labor and delivery pose life-threatening risks, young women always will face disproportionately high demands for access to their bodies. But those demands are rising in unexpected ways, and from unexpected people.

Historically, it was understood that sex created babies. Cultural scripts thus emerged that valued and preferred certain types of sex and male-female relations. The profession of prostitution has always been highly stigmatized for this reason. As we’ve learned the hard way, when female prostitutes engage with their clients, fatherless children can be born, and grow up distinctly disadvantaged.

By far, men have always been the main buyers of sexual access to fertile females. Women virtually never pay for sexual access to either gender. Women and girls make up the overwhelming majority of prostitutes and escorts, and men overwhelmingly make up the clientele. This is true for every human culture, in every period in history. And it has everything to do with reproduction and the scarcity of the fertile female.

Read here

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Assisted dying: who’s to decide when a life is not worth living?

September 18th, 2012 Jill Posted in Euthanasia, Medical Ethics Comments Off

By Andrew Brown, Guardian

Changing interpretations of the Abortion Act show how little legal safeguards are worth when the sentiment behind them is lost

An extraordinary poll published by the British Humanist Association (BHA) highlights the public ambivalence about assisted suicide and euthanasia. In conjunction with other recent surveys, it shows that more people are in favour of the law allowing the killing of relatively healthy patients like Tony Nicklinson than of those who are terminally ill.

The "respectable" wing of the assisted dying movement, Dignity in Dying, wants a very limited right to medically assisted suicide: only people who are terminally ill and in full possession of their faculties would qualify. Even this limited position is hugely controversial.

But the BHA believes that doctors should be allowed to help kill anyone who really wants to die and who cannot manage for themselves. This applies explicitly to perfectly healthy people as well as the terminally ill. And it is more popular than the limited position. No more than 15% of the population are opposed, or strongly opposed to it.

In fact, these attitudes are perfectly coherent and show that people understand there are clear limits to individualism. What the public wants is for everyone to have the right to determine as much as possible about their own lives. This includes the manner and moment of death. Suicide then becomes the grandest and clearest declaration that our lives are our own to do what we want with.

Read here

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