babyhandThe European Court of Human Rights has ruled that an infertile woman cannot use her previously fertilized embryos without the consent of her former fiance. Natalie Evans and her fiance undertook the first stages of in vitro fertilization shortly before starting therapy for ovarian cancer that left her infertile in 2001. Evans is now interested in implantation of one of the stored embryos in order to bear a child, however, the couple are no longer together and Evans’ former fiance withdrew consent for the procedure.

The court’s ruling upholds a British law which stipulates that both of the partners must consent to all stages of the in vitro fertilization process. Evans and a number of pro-life groups have argued that the embryos have a right to life independent of the male partner’s decision.

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bandageAn letter signed by over 200 physicians in the Lancet calls for an end to the forced feeding of Guantanamo detainees who are on hunger strikes, a practice that requires the insertion of a feeding tube. The physicians argue that this amounts to medical therapy and that no competent patient can be subjected to such intervention against their will. A number of medical associations, including the World Medical Association, clearly state that forced feeding is a banned practice.

From the Physicians for Human Rights website:

Ethical codes endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA), including the World Medical Association (WMA)’s 1975 Declaration of Tokyo, which was elaborated in the 1991 WMA Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers (see links below), state clearly that “where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the doctor as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially [emphasis added].?

Link [NPR]

Link [Physicians for Human Rights]

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syringeAccording to a Sunday Times article, Holland is in the process of establishing regulatory committees to regulate the practice of euthanasia in children who are suffering with incurable diseases. The process is intended to avoid the painful terminal stages of some forms of congenital disease. Physicians embroiled in the controversy over this issue argue that the intent is to provide a humane alternative to suffering for these children. Detractors argue that it is an unethical practice because the children do not have the ability to express their will in the decision. An argument for the practice by Eduard Verhagen, a pediatrician in Groningen who has been at the heart of the controversy, follows:

“If a child is untreatably ill,? Verhagen explained, “there can be horrendous suffering that makes the last few days or weeks of this child’s life unbearable. Now the question is: are you going to leave the child like that or are you going to prevent that suffering?? He went on: “Does the child have to sit it out until the end? We think that the answer is no. There can be circumstances where, under very strict conditions, if all the requirements are fulfilled, active ending of life can be an option — but only in cases of untreatable disease and unbearable suffering.?

It’s not a situation that you would ever like to picture yourself in. But if it were so, could you do it? Could you make the decision to end your young child’s life?


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