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medical ethics

2024 Annual Uehiro Lectures: Professor Elizabeth Harman

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We were honoured to welcome Professor Elizabeth Harman, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy and Human Values at Princeton University, to Oxford to deliver the 2024 Annual Uehiro Lectures in Practical Ethics. The three-part lecture series, entitled “Love and Abortion”, took place in the H B Allen Centre, Keble College, on 25 April, 2 and 9… Read More »2024 Annual Uehiro Lectures: Professor Elizabeth Harman

Quasi-Refusal and Teens

by Dominic Wilkinson In an interesting legal case earlier this year, the court held an emergency hearing about the medical care of a 16 year old, recently diagnosed with acute leukaemia. The hearing, conducted remotely in the middle of the night, was to decide whether she should have medical treatment imposed against her wishes. Should an “intelligent… Read More »Quasi-Refusal and Teens

Why a US State Court Ruling on the Rights of Children Before Birth is Unjust

Dominic Wilkinson, University of Oxford. In 2020, in a medical facility in one of the southern states of the US, a patient wandered into an unsecured nursery for extremely premature children. Unfortunately, the patient managed to accidentally disconnect multiple babies from their life support. Worried that they would get in trouble, they fled the scene.… Read More »Why a US State Court Ruling on the Rights of Children Before Birth is Unjust

Cross Post: What’s wrong with lying to a chatbot?

Written by Dominic Wilkinson, Consultant Neonatologist and Professor of Ethics, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Imagine that you are on the waiting list for a non-urgent operation. You were seen in the clinic some months ago, but still don’t have a date for the procedure. It is extremely frustrating, but it seems that you will just have to wait.

However, the hospital surgical team has just got in contact via a chatbot. The chatbot asks some screening questions about whether your symptoms have worsened since you were last seen, and whether they are stopping you from sleeping, working, or doing your everyday activities.

Your symptoms are much the same, but part of you wonders if you should answer yes. After all, perhaps that will get you bumped up the list, or at least able to speak to someone. And anyway, it’s not as if this is a real person.Read More »Cross Post: What’s wrong with lying to a chatbot?

Cross Post: Should A Health Professional Be Disciplined For Reporting An Illegal Abortion?

Written by: Prof Dominic Wilkinson, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Prostock-studio/Shutterstock 
There have been several high-profile cases in the last year of women in the UK being prosecuted for allegedly obtaining abortions illegally. In 2022, there were 29 cases of suspected unlawful abortions that were reported to police – almost a twofold rise on the number reported four years earlier.

In response to this, the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has issued guidance that seeks to clarify the legal obligations of healthcare professionals. The full guideline has not yet been released, but the RCOG insists that professionals “are under no legal obligation to contact the police following an abortion, pregnancy loss or unattended delivery”.Read More »Cross Post: Should A Health Professional Be Disciplined For Reporting An Illegal Abortion?

Event Summary: New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar: Should people have indefinite lifespans? Ethical and social considerations in life-extension, Professor João Pedro de Magalhães

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Written by: Dr Amna Whiston

 

On Thursday, 16th November 2023, Professor João Pedro de Magalhães, a prominent microbiologist specialising in ageing and longevity research, gave an engaging and personable New St Cross Ethics Seminar entitled: ‘Should people have indefinite lifespans? Ethical and social considerations in life-extension?’

Following a brief introduction to the biology of ageing, de Magalhães explained the potential intervening with the ageing process, in advance of discussing the ethical and social implications of extending life span. De Magalhães humbly noted at the beginning of his talk that the importance of ethical and social considerations of biomedical research is sometimes underappreciated by the scientists working in this area. However, he argued that the scientific effort to counter ageing is ethical since it aims to enable people to have long and healthy lives for as long as possible.Read More »Event Summary: New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar: Should people have indefinite lifespans? Ethical and social considerations in life-extension, Professor João Pedro de Magalhães

Guest Post: Nothing if not family?

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Written by Daniela Cutas Lund University

What are genetic relatives to each other if they are not de facto relatives? Is there no relation between a donor-conceived person and their gamete donor? Between the donor-conceived person and the donor´s other offspring or parents or aunts and uncles? Should parents facilitate acquaintance between their children and their children´s gamete donors or donor siblings or other close genetic relatives?

Answers to these questions will differ depending on how one regards the significance of genetic ties. For some, genetic ties equal real relatedness between people: blood is thicker than water, and your genetic relatives ultimately are your family. Anything else is at best a proxy, and at worst a lie. For others, the focus on genes and genetic relatedness is irrational and potentially harmful. It reinforces prejudice and reduces people to their biological components and the relationships between them to combinations of genes. Both these and other attitudes are simultaneously represented in many cultures and legislatures in the Western world. Sometimes, parents of donor-conceived children, who see themselves without a doubt as their children´s rightful parents, may fear that their children may choose to see the gamete donors as their parents instead. Other parents and children may be blissfully in sync with each other but find themselves in extended families and communities in which others see things differently and behave accordingly.Read More »Guest Post: Nothing if not family?

Video Interview: Introducing Academic Visitor Dr María de Jesús Medina Arellano

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An interview with academic visitor Dr María de Jesús Medina Arellano, Professor and Researcher at the Institute of Legal Research at the National Autonomous University (UNAM), on her research focusing on the ethics and regulation of biotechnologies in developing countries, such as stem cell science, human genome editing and reproductive technologies.

Cross Post: Dutch Government to Expand Euthanasia Law to Include Children Aged One to 12 – An Ethicist’s View

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Written by Dominic Wilkinson, University of Oxford

Ernst Kuipers, the Dutch health minister, recently announced that regulations were being modified to allow doctors to actively end the lives of children aged one to 12 years who were terminally ill and suffering unbearably.

Previously, assisted dying was an option in the Netherlands in rare cases in younger children (under one year) and in some older teenagers who requested voluntary euthanasia. Until now, Belgium was the only country in the world to allow assisted dying in children under 12.

Under the proposal, it will remain against the law for doctors in the Netherlands to actively end the life of a child under the age of 12. However, a force majeure clause gives prosecutors the discretion not to prosecute in exceptional circumstances.

In 2005, Dutch doctors and legal experts published guidelines (the so-called “Groningen protocol”) elaborating when these exceptional circumstances would apply for infants under the age of one year. That included certainty about diagnosis and prognosis, “hopeless and unbearable suffering”, the support of both parents and appropriateness confirmed by an independent doctor.

The new regulations would allow the same principles to apply to children between one and 12 years of age.Read More »Cross Post: Dutch Government to Expand Euthanasia Law to Include Children Aged One to 12 – An Ethicist’s View