LIFEalerts 09 September 2014

Abortion Poland – The doctor who refused to abortUSA – Abortion clinic quits fight to keep doing procedures Alternative Medicine No news today Euthanasia USA – Media ethics 101: How not to report suicideThe Netherlands – Is fear of nursing homes a reason for euthanasia?Switzerland – Swiss suicide tourism doubles in four years HIV/AIDS No news today Homosexuality France – European High Court rules that same sex marriage not a rightUK – Leading homosexual activist appointed to House of LordsUganda – Seeks to reinstate anti-gay bill USA – String of same-sex marriage rulings broken IVF & Surrogacy China – The world of Chinese surrogacyCanada – Controversy over clinic’s mixed-race IVF prohibitionAustralia – Government could recognize multiple parents Medical Ethics Iran – Calls for regulation as kidney trade spirals out of controlUSA – What students think about conscientious objectionUSA – Should we compensate organ donors? USA – WHO endorses use of untested Ebola treatments Pedophilia Germany – Study: Onset of pedophilia can be detectedUK – At a glance: Rotherham child sexual exploitation report USA – Virtuous Pedophiles group gives support therapy cannot Pornography UK- Brash porn act is shaping an unhealthy sexual culture among teens Prostitution &Trafficking Norway – Actual evidence shows the Nordic model worksSpain – Countries should not include prostitution in their GDPZimbabwe – ‘Street kids’ turn to prostitution UK – Swedish prostitution law is spreading worldwide Stem Cells & Cloning UK – ‘Stem cells show promise in stroke recovery’ Substance Abuse Canada – “Medical marijuana” regime is ‘bad medicine,’ CMA head warnsUSA – Did smoking marijuana give these young men heart attacks?USA – The Risks of Smoking Pot While Breastfeeding Uruguay – people can grow their own pot  


Poland – The doctor who refused to abort Bogdan Chazan lost his post heading a government-run maternity hospital after he said his conscience prevented him from killing an unborn child. A woman whose physician had detected severe developmental defects in an unborn baby, ask for abortion and Chazan refused. The Warsaw Mayor Hanna dismissed Chazan from his position as director of the hospital. She said Chazan did not have the right to refuse the abortion, and said Polish law obliged him to offer the woman an abortion referral. Chazan is accused of ordering unnecessary tests and prolonging her pregnancy beyond “viable” period of 24 weeks of gestation. The hospital was also fined $23,000, and Chazan was given a three-month job termination notice and placed on leave. USA – Abortion clinic quits fight to keep doing procedures An abortion clinic that was fighting the state of Ohio to remain open has decided it will stop performing surgical abortions. At the heart of that fight is a rule that abortion clinics, as with all ambulatory surgical centers in Ohio, must have a patient transfer agreement with a local hospital in the event complications arise. The Sharonville clinic had been fighting to overturn a decision former Health Director Ted Wymyslo made in January that denied the clinic a variance to the transfer agreement rule. The variance would have allowed it to remain open. Ohio Right to Life, which lobbied for the transfer agreement change in state law, achieved a victory it has been seeking for the last 30 years.  

Alternative Medicine

No news today <Back to Top>


USA – Media ethics 101: How not to report suicide After the recent suicide of US, comedian Robin Williams many experts in media ethics expressed their horror of the media reports. Sharon Mallon of the Open University implored newspapers to show restraint when reporting these sensitive issues to prevent copycat suicides by vulnerable people: “If we are to prevent imitative suicides, all reporting must simultaneously provide the public with enough information to understand the death, while providing an image of suicide that is sensitively managed through careful reporting. Meanwhile in Australia, Dr Nitschke told ABC News that he had been inundated by requests for information about suicide despite the bad publicity. However, most of his clients are just vulnerable elderly rather than vulnerable teenagers. The Netherlands – Is fear of nursing homes a reason for euthanasia? A Dutch euthanasia clinic is being investigated for helping an elderly woman to die because she did not want to live in a nursing home. The clinic’s doctors decided that this was the case, based on some of her gestures and her repeated use of the words ‘kan niet’ which they interpreted as ‘I can’t go on any longer like this’. This is the second time in four months that the Levenseindekliniek (End of Life Clinic) in The Hague has been reprimanded. In the two years after it opened in March 2013, 322 people were killed there. The authorities are studying whether to proceed with a prosecution – something which apparently has not happened since euthanasia was legalized. Switzerland – Swiss suicide tourism doubles in four years Germans and British make up the bulk of the numbers, with neurological conditions, such as paralysis, motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis, accounting for almost half of the cases, findings show. 611 non-residents had been helped to die between 2008 and 2012, all but four of whom had gone to Dignitas. Their ages ranged from 23 to 97. In all, residents from 31 different countries were helped to die in Switzerland between 2008 and 2012, with German (268) and UK (126) nationals making up almost two thirds of the total. Virtually all the deaths were caused by taking sodium pentobarbital. Four people inhaled helium—deaths which were widely publicized and described as “excruciating,” said researchers. <Back to Top>


No news today <Back to Top>


France – European High Court rules that same sex marriage not a right The European Court of Human Rights has re-affirmed its position that member states do not have to recognize same-sex ‘marriage’. The decision has been hailed as ‘monumental’ by Joseph La Rue of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). He argues that because US judges have previously cited European Court judgments, the ruling could have a major impact on an upcoming same-sex case at the US Supreme Court. In its decision, the ECHR highlighted the fact that there is no European consensus on same-sex ‘marriage’. 37 countries within the Council of Europe area do not recognize it and only 10 are in favor of it. UK – Leading homosexual activist appointed to House of Lords A co-founder of Stonewall, Britain’s powerful LGBT lobby group, and the longtime head of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, was named to the House of Lords last week by Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government. Michael Cashman was one of the principal figures within Stonewall pressuring the group to adopt as a lead policy the demand to change the definition of marriage – to which the coalition government acquiesced for England and Wales amid vituperative debate in 2013. A spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) told they are concerned that with the appointment, Michael “Cashman will use his role in Britain’s ‘revising chamber’ to continue his campaigning against life and family.” Uganda – Seeks to reinstate anti-gay bill Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni wants to reinstate a divisive anti-gay law that was rejected by a court, but without tough penalties for consenting adults, a ruling party legislator has said. “We agreed to come up with a new version that doesn’t hurt our Western friends but also protects Ugandans,” Medard Bitekyerezo said on Tuesday. “(The president) said he wants the law back in the house but now says if two consenting adults go into their room and decide to be stupid, let them be,” he said. “What he said he doesn’t want, and which we must even increase the penalties (for), is recruitment of children and exploiting financially vulnerable youths.” USA – String of same-sex marriage rulings broken A judge in Tennessee upheld the state’s Constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. What about arguments that claim there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage? Judge Russell E. Simmons explains that while “marriage is a fundamental right,” there is no right to redefine marriage. Simmons continued: “neither the Tennessee Supreme Court nor the United States Supreme Court has ever decided that this fundamental right under a state’s laws extends beyond the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Simmons explains: “The battle is not between whether or not marriage is a fundamental right but what unions are included in the definition of marriage.” Yes, the fundamental policy question in this debate is. What Is Marriage and who gets to define it. Simmons ruled it “should be the prerogative of each State.” <Back to Top>

IVF &Surrogacy

China – The world of Chinese surrogacy Although it is technically illegal, there are many loopholes and China now has an estimated 1,000 surrogate mother brokers. The CEO of Baby Plan Medical Technology Company says that his business has four branches and a track record of 300 babies. The children are expensive: US$240,000. The NY Times features a surrogate from the impoverished countryside who hopes to solve her financial problems with the pregnancy. Baby Plan provides her with good medical care but sequesters her in a flat for the duration of her pregnancy. “Our liaison staff tells them every day that the baby in your stomach isn’t your baby,” says the CEO. “A nice way of putting it is emotional comfort; less nice is brainwashing.” Canada – Controversy over clinic’s mixed-race IVF prohibition A Canadian fertility clinic has come under intense scrutiny for refusing to provide IVF for parents of different races.  Dr. Calvin Green, the clinic’s administrative director, claimed that mixed-race IVF promotes a designer baby culture: “I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants”. In a statement last month the clinic announced that it now provides mixed-race IVF. “If the assumption is that it is not in the best interest to be in a racially mixed family, that’s very bizarre”, said bioethicist Kerry Bowman from the University of Toronto. “Women will decide for themselves how they want their family to be constructed.” Australia – Government could recognize multiple parents Australian law could be revised to allow more than two parents, if the “Report On Parentage And The Family Law Act” is accepted. Adoption and new reproduction technologies are placing new strains on what “parent” means in contemporary society. Because of “the evidence of family diversity and children’s views about who is a parent”, the Family law Council has recommended that the word “parent” be replaced by “other significant adults” or “other people of significance to the child” and that references to “both” (which implies only two) parents should be omitted. The report was commissioned by the previous Labor government and was completed last December. <Back to Top>

Medical Ethics

Iran – Calls for regulation as kidney trade spirals out of control The body overseeing Iran’s kidney trade is lobbying the government for tighter regulation on foreign nationals procuring kidney transplants. According to Mostafa Qasemi, of the Charity Association for the Support of Kidney Patients (CASKP), many foreigners are enter the country with false documentation and procure transplants from unscrupulous doctors. “These patients enter the country with false documents; doctors do not examine their documents and are paid millions to carry out a kidney transplant for them”, he said. Iran is the only nation in which buying and selling of kidneys is legal. The market is regulated by the CASKP and the Ministry of Health’s Charity Foundation for Special Diseases. More than 2,300 kidney transplants are done in the country each year. USA – What students think about conscientious objection A study in the Journal of Medical Ethics by a group of researchers from the University of Oslo, canvassed the views of 531 fifth and sixth year medical students in Norway. 62{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of said they would object to participating in euthanasia – a surprisingly high proportion considering that the majority of Norwegians are said to support legalising euthanasia. Only between 12.5{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} to 19{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}, said they would object to participating in abortions depending on the stage of pregnancy and disabilities just (4.9{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}) said they would object to referring patients for abortions. Norway has strict regulations on conscientious objection to abortion. Doctors are required by law to refer patients to abortionists, even if they have moral reservations. USA – Should we compensate organ donors? There are 23,000 people on US organ donation waiting lists but only 29,000 organ transplants took place in 2013. Sally Satel of the American Enterprise Institute said “altruism, as a strategy, is simply not producing enough organs. It needs to be supplemented with compensated donation”. However, Dr. Jeremy Chapman of Sydney’s Westmead Hospital argues the US is better off fixing problems in the current system, rather than abandoning altruism as a basis for donation: “[Many] ignore the hundreds of donated kidneys that must be discarded each year in the United States. They ignore the lessons that can be learned from the successful organ procurement regions of the country that derive twice as many organs per capita as the least successful programs.” USA – WHO endorses use of untested Ebola treatments The WHO has endorsed using untested Ebola interventions on patients infected with the disease through a 12-member panel of bioethicists. Assistant director-general Marie-Paule Kieny said, “In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.” The two American victims of the virus, as well as Spanish victim Rev. Miguel Pajares, received an experimental anti-ebola drug called ZMapp. Pajares has since died, but the American patients are in a stable condition. Small shipments of Zmapp have arrived in the Liberia for use on infected doctors. <Back to Top>


Germany – Study: Onset of pedophilia can be detected Scientists in Germany have confirmed that pedophiles could be scanned and spotted in the near future, as brains of child abusers are oddly tuned to be attracted to children’s faces.” The critical new finding is that face processing is also tuned to face cues revealing the developmental age that is sexually preferred,” says the paper submitted by the team of researchers, led by Dr Jorge Ponseti from Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, which has been published in the Royal Society Journal. The study claims that human faces can motivate either a nurturing characteristic or a sexual one, when looking at pictures of children. In the case of pedophiles, their sexual attraction is directed towards children who are sexually novice. UK – At a glance: Rotherham child sexual exploitation report An estimated 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 is among the key findings of an independent report by Professor Alexis Jay into the handling of child sexual exploitation (CSE) by social services and police in the South Yorkshire town. Children were raped by multiple attackers, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten and intimidated, the report revealed. The report said several staff members were afraid they would be labeled racist if they identified the race of the perpetrators, while others said they were instructed by their managers not to do so. USA – Virtuous Pedophiles group gives support therapy cannot Mr. Edwards from Pennsylvania, co-founded an online support group called Virtuous Pedophiles. The 330-member group, which is designed to help admitted pedophiles talk through their conditions and curb their desires, is completely anonymous. The Virginia-based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children fears that sites like these operate merely under the guise of helping pedophiles remain celibate, but instead enable them to trade tips and tricks on how to groom children for sexual purposes. But James Cantor, from Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, calls it a “wonderful organization” that helps a largely invisible group support each other to keep from committing crimes. <Back to Top>


UK- Brash porn act is shaping an unhealthy sexual culture among teens A study, published in the journal BMJ Open, found that some young men weren’t concerned about getting consent for anal sex from young women. According to Dr. Cicely Marston, senior lecturer in social science at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, “The overwhelming feeling from the people who had engaged in anal sex was that it exists in a coercive environment.” Cindy Gallop, founder of, said, “In the absence of any healthy, accurate, honest, truthful conversation about sex in the real world, young women and men are getting their sex education from porn.” The researchers are pushing for more open discussion with parents and sex educators to help reduce these harmful attitudes. <Back to Top>

Prostitution & Trafficking

Norway – Actual evidence shows the Nordic model works A study commissioned by Norway’s government shows that criminalizing the purchase of sex has decreased trafficking and has not caused violence against women to increase, as some have claimed. Johns have been criminalized in Norway since 2009, following in Sweden’s footsteps. “The nearly 200-page report is based on six months of research, including interviews with male and female prostitutes, police and support organizations. It is no real surprise that organized crime has taken over the trade in places that have legalized. Women and girls are trafficked because there just aren’t enough of them who enter the trade willingly — demand begets exploitation; reduce demand and you reduce exploitation. Meanwhile, claims that legalizing or decriminalizing the purchase of sex would make it safer have not proven to be true and countries like Germany and New Zealand are reconsidering their laws. Spain – Countries should not include prostitution in their GDP Elena Valenciano, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament, has asked the European Commission to prevent countries from including prostitution in the calculation of their GDP, as this would be a violation of human rights. Valenciano sharply criticized the European System of National and Regional Accounts of the European Union “which makes it mandatory for countries to include prostitution in their gross domestic product.” Zimbabwe – ‘Street kids’ turn to prostitution In the Midlands capital of Gweru, most girls who live on the streets have turned to sex work because of the escalating economic challenges facing the country. After suffering repeated abuse from relatives and boys on the streets who took turns to rape her, Elina decided to indulge in sex work. Even though prostitution is not an easy profession, the burden of taking care of her young sister, also presents a serious challenge to the orphan. “Begging does not bring much, so desperation drove me into this,” she said with a muffled voice. UK – Swedish prostitution law is spreading worldwide Supporters of the Swedish approach argue that it does not encourage trafficking. In 1999, when Sweden passed a law criminalizing the buying but not the selling of sex, many outsiders were dubious. Norway adopted it in 2008 and Iceland in 2009. Canada’s government recently proposed a version of it. In the Netherlands, where pimping and brothel keeping were legalized, trafficking has increased and the welfare of prostitutes has suffered. <Back to Top>

Stem Cells & Cloning

UK – ‘Stem cells show promise in stroke recovery’ Infusing stem cells into the brain may help boost recovery after a stroke, according to a pilot study by Imperial College London. Scientists found most patients were able to walk and look after themselves independently by the end of the 6 month trial, despite having suffered severe strokes. Dr Tim Chico, from the University of Sheffield said: “It is important to understand this is only the very earliest step towards a possible new treatment for stroke and does not prove the stem cell treatment improved these patients’ recovery. “A much larger trial will be needed to compare stem cell treatment with no stem cell treatment. The study is published in Stem Cell Translational Medicine. <Back to Top>

Substance Abuse

Canada – “Medical marijuana” regime is ‘bad medicine,’ CMA head warns The Canadian government’s new marijuana (dagga) regime is “awkward” and “strains the patient-doctor relationship,” said Canadian Medical Association (CMA) head, Dr. Louis Francescutti. Doctors are asked to prescribe a ‘medication’ that hasn’t been put through the rigorous testing process that all other medications on the market are subject to, he said. “It’s just bad medicine to be asked to authorize a product that we don’t know how it works.” Francescutti said. “Where are the studies? We try to base what we do on evidence.” Doctors are facing pressure from patients who insist it helps them, from a burgeoning marijuana industry that is making “outrageous claims” about its benefits, and a regime that calls on doctors to “blindfoldly” prescribe it. USA – Did smoking marijuana give these young men heart attacks? Marijuana smoking is becoming more prevalent,” said Dr. William Abraham, a cardiologist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, “and this does give us an opportunity to better study and better understand what its health consequences are. As awareness grows, so does the information available on the potential dangers of marijuana smoking. In a larger study in France, published this year in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers identified 35 cases of cardiovascular complications, amounting to 1.8 percent of all serious side effects from cannabis use reported to a government database. Nine of the patients died. USA – The Risks of Smoking Pot While Breastfeeding It’s true that few studies have looked at the risks of smoking marijuana while breast-feeding. However, several organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, discourage the use of marijuana by breast-feeding mothers, in part because of concern that the drug may affect the baby’s brain development. What is clear is that the drug can get into breast milk, and into the baby’s body. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is fat soluble and can be stored in the fat tissue for quite a while. Any drug that is fat soluble gets into fat [tissue], and breast milk has lots of fat because that’s what’s good for the baby,” said Dr. David Mendez, a neonatologist at Miami Children’s Hospital. Uruguay – people can grow their own pot People in Uruguay who want to grow their own marijuana at home were able to register to do so on Wednesday as the government launched the latest phase in its first-of-its-kind legalisation program. Under a law that went into effect in May, citizens of Uruguay or legal residents who are at least 18 can grow marijuana for personal use if they register. There is a limit of six female plants, with an annual harvest of up to 480g. Uruguay is the first in the world to attempt to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana on a nationwide scale. <Back to Top> Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International]]>