Australasian Bioethics Information
Friday, 1 August 2003 · No. 86 ISSN 1446-2117
A weekly newsletter for health and legal professionals
Euthanasia bill dies in NZ Parliament
The architect of the bill, MP Peter Brown, said that Parliament's vote was "reprehensible". National Party leader Bill English, however, supported the decision. "This bill is a comfort for the living, not a ticket for those who want to die," he said. "Pain is part of life and watching it is part of our humanity, and many of us have become more human for having watched it, whether we liked it or not."
Undeterred by their failure this time, euthanasia advocates vowed to step up their campaign. Support for euthanasia is clearly growing. The last time it came before the NZ Parliament, in 1995, the vote was 61 to 29. A leading figure in the debate, Lesley Martin, has agreed to head Exit New Zealand, which was established recently by Australian campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke. Ms Martin faces charges over the attempted murder of her terminally ill mother in 1999. She is planning "more creative" ideas for promoting euthanasia. ~ New Zealand Herald, July 30, 31, Aug 2; CNSNews.com, Jul 30
Spain approves embryo research
Although the Spanish legislation is similar to other European countries, it has one novel feature. It allows only three embryos to be fertilised in IVF clinics at one time. The government says that this will reduce the huge number of frozen embryos, avoid the practice of "foetal reduction" and cut down on multiple births. ~ Reuters, Jul 25; statement of Spanish health minister
Transplant scandal in Chicago hospitals
The complicated case began in 1996 when transplant surgeon Dr Raymond Pollak accused all the transplant programs in Chicago of fraud. "Transplant programs are extraordinarily expensive to run but can be extraordinarily profitable if they're run efficiently," Dr Pollak told the Chicago Tribune. "So the more patients you transplant, the more referrals you get, the more revenue you get. Volume drives the business. Wal-Mart learned that a long time ago."
Bioethicist Arthur Caplan commented that the system of allocating organs for transplants is faulty not just for livers, but also for hearts and kidneys. "There's a lot of money on the line here," he said. "It's a system vulnerable to bending the rules." ~ Chicago Tribune, Jul 29
Why cloning fails
"God is not in charge, we are": IVF pioneer looks back
Despite his 77 years, Edwards's views are anything but conservative. Edwards does not support a ban on human reproductive cloning and thinks that he will live to see the first human clone. However, he stresses that the safety of the mother and baby are paramount. The journal he edits, Reproductive BioMedicine online, has provided a platform for the controversial cloner Severino Antinori. ~ Times, Jul 24
The unexpected consequences of anonymous sperm donation
60 Minutes featured the reunion of 18-year-old Kate Whittaker with Bobby Gerardot, her biological father, who had donated sperm more than 200 times during his college years to make extra cash. The contact was positive, but emotionally exhausting and Bobby and his wife have decided not to allow any more offspring to contact him.
Another person interviewed was film maker Barry Stevens, born from donor sperm 50 years ago, who has been searching for his biological father for years. He has managed to discover a half-brother, but not his father. "This should tell people that donating sperm can't be regarded just like a handshake," he says. "It can't be regarded just like you're selling a little bit of tissue... You're creating life from your own body. It's a tremendously powerful act. You're creating another human being."
Commenting on the program in the Chicago Sun-Times, columnist Mary Laney called for limits on the number of sperm deposits. IVF clinics could produce any number of "half brothers and sisters who have no idea that they're half brothers and sisters," she writes. "What happens if they get married and have children? Are we going to have village idiots running around?" ~ 60 Minutes, Jul 4; Chicago Sun- Times, Jul 30
To subscribe to our weekly email newsletter,
click here for the HTML version.
click here for the text version.
To cancel your newsletter subscription, click here.
Australasian Bioethics Information
Director: Dr Amin Abboud
Editor: Michael Cook
New Zealand Associate: Carolyn Moynihan