Kingsley Holgate heads to Zambezi Delta on ‘Vision Mission’

Kingsley Holgate’s crew have loaded up their expedition Land Rovers and headed for Mozambique with their sturdy ‘Ma Robert’ inflatable pontoon boat in tow, to assist the non-profit Doctors For Life International (DFL) team in conducting free, life-changing, cataract operations in the Zambezi Delta, as part of DFL’s Aid to Africa programme.

The Kingsley Holgate Foundation is taking its Mashozi’s Rite to Sight programme to a new level with this campaign, called ‘Vision Mission’.

In keeping with using adventure to improve lives, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation’s focus on helping those with poor eyesight was started more than a decade ago by Mashozi (Gill) Holgate. ‘I remember the day clearly,’ says Kingsley.

‘We were on our 23° 27 Capricorn round-the-world-by-Land-Rover Expedition, in South America close to the Piranha River, in the company of a team of rangers. They told us that they were about to evict an old man who had lived all his life in a local village because he was becoming a danger to himself and others – he’d nearly burned down his hut several times whilst trying to light his stove. We went with them to the old man’s hut and sure enough, there he was, fumbling with a box of matches. The problem was – he couldn’t see properly.

‘I don’t know what made Mashozi think of it, but she suddenly rummaged in her big expedition bag, brought out a pair of her own basic readers and popped them on the old man’s nose. Miraculously, they were the perfect strength. A look of complete surprise came over his face, followed by a big, toothy grin as for the first time in years, he could see clearly again. There were claps and cheers from the rangers as the old man confidently struck the match, lit his stove and made us each a cup of coffee. The rangers allowed him to stay in his home and that was the start of our Mashozi’s Rite to Sight programme, named in her honour. Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength; after careful eye tests, we’ve distributed over 200,000 pairs of reading glasses to poor-sighted, mostly elderly people in remote areas all over Africa and beyond. The instant gratitude from the recipients and the immediate difference it makes in their lives is heart-warming.’

DFL has performed 2,500 eye surgeries throughout Africa over the past decade, helping to reverse blindness and dramatically change lives. This Zambezi Delta Vision outreach is in response to a call for help to assist blind people in the Marromeu, Luabo and Chinde areas. DFL and the Kingsley Holgate Foundation are transporting two mobile operating theatres to Marromeu on the banks of the Zambezi River, along with a team of volunteer doctors and nurses from South Africa and eSwatini, with the aim of conducting at least 200 cataract surgeries during August.

‘We are incredibly honoured to be a part of this humanitarian mission,’ says expedition leader Ross Holgate. ‘We know the Zambezi River well and our role will be to provide ground support. Using our three Land Rovers and the ‘Ma Robert’ boat, we’ll be criss-crossing the Zambezi Delta, conducting our normal malaria prevention and Mashozi Rite to Sight spectacle-distribution work, and at the same time, assessing patients that need more stringent, corrective eye surgery. The DFL doctors will train our expedition team on what cataract symptoms to look for and we will transport patients and their family members by water and road to the operating theatres, and then return them home after their eye surgery. It’s going to be a lot of hard work in difficult conditions with tricky logistics; just the amount of expedition kit, including the bolt-together ‘Ma Robert’ boat and medical equipment that’s being transported 2,000 kilometres to the Delta, is quite unbelievable.’

Also supporting this humanitarian effort is the non-profit Mercy Air group, which recently played a vital role in providing emergency air support after Cyclone Idai devastated central Mozambique, rescuing hundreds of victims and transporting tonnes of food, drinking water, medical supplies and personnel to flood-stricken communities. For this Zambezi Delta mission, Mercy Air is providing a helicopter and aeroplane to transport cataract patients living in inaccessible villages to the operating theatres by air.

‘The capabilities of our tried-and-tested Land Rover Discoverys and faithful old Defender 130 are really going to be needed,’ continues Ross. ‘These are the same vehicles that took us safely to Africa’s extreme easterly point in dangerous Somalia in 2017 and completed the 17,000-kilometre transcontinental Cape Town to Kathmandu expedition last year, making short work of below-freezing, high-altitude and snow-filled mountain passes. Then in April this year, they delivered tonnes of malaria prevention supplies and clean drinking water to flooded communities near Gorongosa National Park that were badly affected by Cyclone Idai.’

Zambezi Vision Mission at a glance:

3 Expedition Land Rovers

2 Mercy Air aircraft

2 Doctors For Life mobile operating theatres

1 large, inflatable pontoon-type ‘Ma Robert’ boat and tender

22 personnel

10 tonnes of equipment

2,000Km of rough roads

230Km of coastline and 18,000Km² of swamps, floodplains and savannah in the Zambezi Delta

200+ cataract operations

1,000 recipients of Mashozi’s Rite to Sight eye-testing and spectacle distribution.

 

Text and images: Kingsely Holgate Foundation – Link to article

 

Link to article –

DFL member Dr de Vos takes a stand against abortion and then gets charged by HPCSA for misconduct.”

Please read the following articles about Dr de Vos:

SOWETAN LIVE

A hearing by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) against an anti-abortion doctor got off to a rocky start and had to be temporarily adjourned on Tuesday in Cape Town. Jacques de Vos, 32, is facing charges of unprofessional conduct and was prohibited from practising medicine due to his views on abortion. READ MORE

EYEWITNESS NEWS

A doctor, prohibited from practising medicine over his views on abortion, will face the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) on Tuesday. Doctor Jacques de Vos reportedly believes abortion constitutes the killing of an unborn human being. De Vos was a medical intern at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg when he made the utterance to a patient. He was then fired more than two years ago. READ MORE

IOL NEWS

An intern doctor and anti-abortionist appeared before a disciplinary hearing yesterday for allegedly dissuading a pregnant woman from terminating her pregnancy and likening it to the “killing of a human being”. READ MORE

ALGOA FM

A former military hospital doctor will appear before a disciplinary inquiry in Cape Town on Tuesday after being barred from practising as a doctor. Dr Jacques De Vos, who was a medical intern at 2 Military Hospital, was suspended two years ago after advising a patient that abortion is the killing of an unborn human being. READ MORE

DOCTOR CHARGED FOR ADVISING THAT UNBORN BABIES ARE HUMAN

Former Military Hospital doctor, Dr Jacques de Vos, has been charged by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for advising that abortion is the killing of an unborn human being. Dr De Vos, who is a member of Doctors For Life International (DFL) will finally be able to respond to charges after waiting more than two years since being barred from practicing as a doctor.

Dr De Vos was a medical intern at 2 Military Hospital when he was suspended from the gynaecology rotation and refused to be signed off. As a result, Dr De Vos has also been prevented from commencing his community service year, effectively barring him from practicing medicine in South Africa for the past two years. Despite numerous efforts by Dr De Vos and his legal team, Dr De Vos has not received any assistance from the SA Military Health Service or the HPCSA to continue with his career.

Adv Keith Matthee SC, instructed by De Wet Wepener Attorneys, will represent Dr De Vos when he appears before a six-member panel disciplinary enquiry scheduled for 27 and 28 August 2019 in Cape Town. This case is likely to attract great interest in the medical community as healthcare practitioners such as Dr De Vos are often victimized and discriminated against for upholding the sanctity of life for unborn children and for advising women of the adverse effects of abortion on the mother of the unborn child.

The hearings are open to the public. The venue is yet to be confirmed by the HPCSA.

For more information, contact Martus de Wet of De Wet Wepener Attorneys at 057 004 0004 or [email protected]

12 Myths about Assisted Suicide and Medical Aid In Dying

Introduction In an age of “alternative facts”, it’s hard to sort out myth from reality when it comes to so-called ‘medical-aid-in-dying’ (MAID)—also called physician assisted suicide (PAS). By whatever label we attach to it, this practice involves a physician’s prescribing a lethal drug for a patient with a putatively terminal illness who is requesting this “service.” Some form of MAID/PAS is now legal in 5 states and the District of Columbia. People of good conscience, including many physicians, are sharply divided on the ethics of MAID/PAS. Unfortunately, much of the support for this practice is founded on several myths and misconceptions regarding existing MAID laws and practices. Here are 12 of the most common.

1. Everyone has a “right to die”, including a right to take one’s own life, acting alone or with assistance.

In contrast to “liberties”, rights entail the cooperation or assistance of others.1 Mentally competent people may be at liberty to end their own lives (i.e., will not be prosecuted), but there is no recognized right to suicide that involves the cooperation of others. In Washington v. Glucksberg [521 U.S. 702 (1997)], the US Supreme Court (USSC) denied that there is a constitutionally-protected “right to commit suicide” or a right to PAS. To rule otherwise, the majority held, would force them to “reverse centuries of legal doctrine and practice, and strike down the considered policy choice of almost every state.” That said, the USSC has held that all competent persons have the right to refuse unwanted or “heroic” measures that merely prolong the dying process.2 Similarly, in Vacco v. Quill [521 U.S. 793(1997)], the USSC held that there is a legal difference between withdrawal of care and provision of a lethal intervention; i.e., everyone has a right to refuse medical care, but no one has a “right” to receive a lethal means of ending one’s life.

2. People who request “medical aid in dying” usually do so because they are experiencing severe, intractable pain and suffering.

Most requests for medical-aid-in-dying are not made by patients experiencing “untreatable pain or suffering”, as data from Oregon have shown; rather, the most common reasons for requesting medical aid in dying were loss of autonomy (97.2{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}), inability to engage in enjoyable activities (88.9{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}), and loss of dignity (75.0{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}).3 Many patients who request assisted suicide are clinically depressed and could be successfully treated, once properly diagnosed.

3. In states such as Oregon and Washington, where PAS is legal, there are adequate safeguards in place to ensure proper application of the PAS law.

In Oregon, reporting to the state is done solely by the physician prescribing the lethal drugs, who has a vested interest in minimizing problems. Moreover, if a physician was negligent in making the initial diagnosis or prognosis, there is no way to track this, since, by law, all death certificates will state that the person died of the putative underlying disease. At the same time, the physician is rarely present at the time the patient ingests the lethal drug, so the possibility of abuse—e.g., by coercive family members—cannot be adequately assessed. The Oregon department of human services has said it has no authority to investigate individual death-with-dignity cases,4 and Oregon has acknowledged that its law does not adequately protect all people with mental illness from receiving lethal prescriptions.5 Thus, it is nearly impossible to determine cases in which, for example, terminally ill patients were pressured to end their lives by family members. A study in the Michigan Law Review (2008) found that “seemingly reasonable safeguards for the care and protection of terminally ill patients written into the Oregon law are being circumvented…[and that]…the Oregon Public Health Division (OPHD), which is charged with monitoring the law…does not collect the information it would need to effectively monitor the law…OPHD…acts as the defender of the law rather than as the protector of the welfare of terminally ill patients.”6 Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr., MD, and William I. Toffler, MD, both of the Oregon Health & Science University, point to other actual or potential abuses in PAS-permissive states, including “physician shopping” to get around safeguards; nurse-assisted suicide without orders from a physician; and economic pressures to use PAS, such as Oregon Medicaid patients being denied cancer treatment but offered coverage for assisted suicide.7 Furthermore, an investigative piece by the Des Moines Register revealed that mandatory reporting requirements were not followed by hundreds of doctors in states where MAID/PAS is legal.8

4. In the US, only people with terminal or incurable illnesses are eligible for PAS.

Most PAS legislation applies to an adult with a terminal illness or condition predicted to have less than 6 months to live. In Oregon and Washington State, nearly identical criteria are interpreted to mean less than 6 months to live—specifically, without treatment. Thus, a healthy 20-year-old with insulin-dependent diabetes could be deemed “terminal” for the purpose of Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act.” So, too, patients refusing appropriate treatment may be deemed “terminal” under current interpretation of the Oregon law. Thus, a patient with anorexia nervosa who refused treatment could be eligible for PAS under Oregon law, even though she could recover with intensive therapy. As Swedish investigator Fabian Stahle observes, “This is in fact an alteration of the traditional meaning of the concept of ‘incurable.’”9

5. “Slippery slope” arguments against PAS are overblown. In European countries that allow PAS, there is no evidence that patients are being euthanized improperly.

People with non-terminal illnesses have been legally euthanized at their own request in several countries for nearly 15 years. This has included certain eligible patients who have only psychiatric disorders. In 2002, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg removed any distinctions between terminal and non-terminal conditions—and between physical suffering and mental suffering—for legally permitted PAS. Between 2008 and 2014, more than 200 psychiatric patients were euthanized by their own request in the Netherlands (1{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of all euthanasia in that country). Among them, 52{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} had a diagnosis of personality disorder, 56{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} refused 1 or more offered treatments, and 20{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} had never even had an inpatient stay (1 indication of previous treatment intensity). When asked the primary reason for seeking PAS/euthanasia, 66{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} cited “social isolation and loneliness.” Despite the legal requirement for agreement between outside consultants, for 24{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of psychiatric patients euthanized, at least 1 outside consultant disagreed.10-12 The US has not been immune to the slippery slope, either. For example, in Oregon, a psychiatrist opened a fee-for-service death clinic, where for $5,000, “terminally ill patients who are eligible to take advantage of…Oregon’s suicide law can book a death that might look a lot like a wedding package.”13

6. The method of “assisted dying” now used in Oregon and other PAS-states assures the patient of a quick, peaceful death, without serious complications.

A peaceful death is by no means guaranteed using current methods of PAS, as a recent piece by Lo pointed out: 14 “Physicians who support PAD need to consider how to address the potential for adverse outcomes, including longer time to death than expected (up to 24 hours or more), awakening from unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting, and gasping.” Data collected between 1998-2015 showed that the time between ingestion of lethal drugs and death ranged from 1 minute to more than 4 days. During this same period (1998-2015), 27 cases (out of 994) involved difficulty ingesting or regurgitating the drugs, and there were 6 known instances in which patients regained consciousness after ingesting the drugs. However, it is difficult to know the actual rate of drug-induced complications, since in the majority (54{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}) of cases between1998-2015, no health care professional was present to attend and observe the patient’s death.15

7. “Death with Dignity” all comes down to the patient’s autonomy, and the right of patients to end life on their terms.

In the first place, under current legislation permitting so-called medical aid in dying, the patient is completely dependent on the judgment, authorization, and prescriptive power of the physician—hardly a state of autonomy.1 Moreover, autonomy is only 1 of the 4 ‘cornerstones’ of medical ethics; the others are beneficence, non-malfeasance and justice. As Desai and Grossberg observe in their textbook on long-term care: “The pre-eminence of autonomy as an ethical principle in the United States can sometimes lead health care providers to disregard other moral considerations and common sense when making clinical decisions…we strongly feel that the role of the medical profession is to understand but not to support such wishes [for physician-assisted death]. Every person’s life is valuable, irrespective of one’s physical and mental state, even when that person has ceased to deem life valuable.”16

8. Doctors who conscientiously oppose PAS are perfectly free to refuse participation in it.

In theory, the California guidelines state that “A healthcare provider who refuses to participate in activities under the act on the basis of conscience, morality or ethics cannot be subject to censure, discipline … or other penalty by a healthcare provider, professional association or organization,” the guidelines say.17 However, prior to its PAS law being declared unconstitutional, physicians in California could be compelled to participate in PAS, under certain circumstances. California’s health department regulation requires a state facility to provide PAS. If the request is denied, the patient has a right to a judicial hearing on the matter. If the court determines the patient is qualified, the attending physician must write a prescription for lethal drugs.18 Moreover, there is evidence that physicians are sometimes pressured or intimidated by patients to assist in suicide.7

9. Terminally ill people who request MAID are not suicidal and don’t commit suicide. They are dying, and simply want “hastening” of an inevitable death. In contrast, genuinely suicidal people are not dying of a terminal condition, yet they want to die.

This argument plays fast and loose with language, logic, and law. In fact, it turns ordinary language on its head, thereby eliminating suicide by linguistic fiat. As the American Nursing Association states, “suicide is the act of taking one’s own life,”19 regardless of the act’s context. There may indeed be different psychological profiles that distinguish suicide in the context of terminal illness from suicide in other contexts, but that does not overturn the ordinary language meaning of suicide. Thus, when a terminally ill patient (or any other person) knowingly and intentionally ingests a lethal drug, that act is, incontrovertibly, suicide. Most suicides occur in the context of serious psychiatric illness. Yet patients who express suicidal ideation in the context of a condition such as major depression rarely want to die; rather, as numerous suicide prevention websites note, “Most suicidal people do not want to die. They are experiencing severe emotional pain, and are desperate for the pain to go away.” 20

10. People requesting PAS are carefully screened by mental health professionals to rule out depression.

Most PAS statutes modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity statute do not require examination by a mental health professional, except when the participating physician is concerned and decides to do so. Specifically, “The patient is referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist if concern exists that the patient has a psychiatric disorder including depression that may impair judgment.”21 A study of the Oregon law concluded that “Although most terminally ill Oregonians who receive aid in dying do not have depressive disorders, the current practice of the Death with Dignity Act may fail to protect some patients whose choices are influenced by depression from receiving a prescription for a lethal drug.”21 In Oregon, 204 patients were prescribed lethal drugs in 2016 under the “Death with Dignity” statute, yet only 5 patients were referred for psychiatric or psychological evaluation.22

11. Doctors who participate in PAS are almost always comfortable doing so and rarely regret their decision.

Many doctors who have participated in euthanasia and/or PAS are adversely affected— emotionally and psychologically—by their experiences. In a structured, in-depth telephone interview survey of 38 US oncologists who reported participating in euthanasia or PAS, nearly a quarter of the physicians regretted their actions. Another 16{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} reported that the emotional burden of performing euthanasia or PAS adversely affected their medical practice.23 For example, one physician felt so “burned out” that he moved from the city in which he was practicing to a small town. Similarly, reactions among European doctors suggest that PAS and euthanasia often provoke strong negative feelings.24

12. For terminally ill patients, the only means of achieving “death with dignity” is by taking a lethal drug prescribed by one’s doctor.

Only a small minority of persons with a terminal disease seek a physician’s prescription for a lethal drug. It is not clear why self-poisoning confers more dignity to one’s death than more traditional and much more common ways of dying. Many people who are dying choose to “bear with” their pain. Some seek hospice care and—in cases of severe, intractable pain—merit palliative sedation.25 Some choose voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED), which, according to one study involving hospice nurses, results in a more satisfactory death than seen with PAS. In fact, “as compared with patients who died by physician-assisted suicide, those who stopped eating and drinking were rated by hospice nurses as suffering less and being more at peace in the last two weeks of life.”26 A form of VSED called ‘sallekhana’ has been practiced in the Jain religion for centuries and is regarded as an ethical and dignified means of achieving a “natural” death.27

Conclusion

The case for physician-assisted suicide legislation rests on a number of misconceptions, as regards the adequacy, safety, and application of existing PAS statutes. The best available evidence suggests that current practices under PAS statutes are not adequately monitored and do not adequately protect vulnerable populations, such as patients with clinical depression. The American College of Physicians,28 the American Medical Association, the World Medical Association and the American Nurses Association have all registered opposition to physician-assisted suicide. It is critical that physicians inform themselves as regards the actual nature and function—or dysfunction—of medical aid in dying legislation. The first step is to recognize and challenge the many myths that surround these well-intended but misguided laws.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to recognize the important contributions of Dr. Mark Komrad and Mr. Alex Schadenberg to the discussion of physician-assisted suicide. Ronald W. Pies, MD is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY; and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts U. School of Medicine, Boston. Annette Hanson, MD, is Director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program, and Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

References

1. Szasz T: Fatal Freedom. Syracuse University Press, 1995. 2.  https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/does-the-constitution-protect-a-right-to-die 3. Loggers ET, Starks H, Shannon-Dudley M et al. Implementing a Death with Dignity program at a comprehensive cancer center. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 11;368(15):1417-24. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1213398 4. Oregon board investigates failed assisted suicide. Jun 20, 2005 http://www.drugtopics.com/community-pharmacy/oregon-board-investigates-failed-assisted-suicide 5. The Oregon Death With Dignity Act: A Guidebook for Healthcare Providers, page 43. Accessed at: http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/continuing-education/center-for-ethics/ethics-outreach/upload/Oregon-Death-with-Dignity-Act-Guidebook.pdf 6. Hendin H, Foley K.  Physician-Assisted Suicide in Oregon: A Medical Perspective, Mich. L. Rev. 106; 1613 (2008). Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol106/iss8/7 7. Stevens KR, Toffler WI. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. JAMA, 2016;316(15): 1599 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2569774 8. Suicide with a helping hand worries Iowans on both sides of ‘right to die’. Desmoine Register, 2016 Nov 25 https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/2016/11/25/too-weak-kill-herself-assistance-legal/92407392/ 9. Stahle F. Oregon Health Authority Reveals Hidden Problems with the Oregon Assisted Suicide Model. https://www.masscitizensforlife.org/oregon-health-authority-reveals-hidden-problems-with-the-oregon-assisted-suicide-model 10. Kim SYH, De Vries RG, Peteet JR. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide of Patients With Psychiatric Disorders in the Netherlands 2011 to 2014. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(4):362-368 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5530592/ 11. Komrad MS. APA Position on Medical Euthanasia. Psychiatric Times. Feb. 25,c 2017.  http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/suicide/apa-position-medical-euthanasia 12. https://fatalflawsfilm.com 13. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/oregon-doctor-opens-death-clinic-physician-assisted-suicide/story?id=10994210 14. Lo B. Beyond Legalization — Dilemmas Physicians Confront Regarding Aid in Dying.”  N Engl J Med. 2018; 378(22):2060-2062 https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMp1802218?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}3dwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 15. https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Documents/year19.pdf 16. Desai AK, Grossberg GT.  Psychiatric Consultation in Long-Term Care, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010, p. 262. 17. McGreevy P. Guidelines issued for California’s assisted suicide law http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-guidelines-california-assisted-suicide-law-20160120-story.html 18. California Code of Regulations. § 4601. Petitions to the Superior Court and Access to the End of Life Option Act. http://www.dsh.ca.gov/Publications/docs/Regulations/2016_10_31_End_of_Life_ISOR.pdf 19. American Nurses Association. Position Statement. Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and Aid in Dying. April 24, 2013 https://www.nursingworld.org/~4af287/globalassets/docs/ana/ethics/euthanasia-assisted-suicideaid-in-dying_ps042513.pdf 20.  https://medicine.umich.edu/sites/default/files/content/downloads/macomb-county-cmh-holding-on-to-life-toolkit.pdf 21. Ganzini L, Goy ER, Dobscha SK. Prevalence of depression and anxiety in patients requesting physicians’ aid in dying: cross sectional survey BMJ 2008; 337:a1682 https://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a1682 22. https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Documents/year19.pdf 23. Emanuel EJ, Daniels ER, Fairclough DL, Clarridge BR. The Practice of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the United States. Adherence to Proposed Safeguards and Effects on Physicians. JAMA. 1998;280(6):507–513. doi:10.1001/jama.280.6.507 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/187854 24. Stevens KR Jr. Emotional and psychological effects of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia on participating physicians. Issues Law Med. 2006 Spring; 21(3):187-200. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16676767 25. Statement on Palliative Sedation. Approved by the AAHPM Board of Directors on December 5, 2014 http://aahpm.org/positions/palliative-sedation 26. Ganzini L, Goy ER, Miller LL et al. Nurses’ experiences with hospice patients who refuse food and fluids to hasten death. N Engl J Med. 2003 Jul 24;349(4):359-65. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa035086 27. Tukol JTK. Sallekhana. https://www.jainworld.com/education/seniors/senles15.htm 28. Sulmasy LS, Mueller PS. Ethics and the Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide: An American College of Physicians Position Paper. Ann Intern Med. 2017;167(8):576-578.  http://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2654458/ethics-legalization-physician-assisted-suicide-american-college-physicians-position-paper
Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International]]>

Mozambique Medical Outreach May 2018

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Aid to Africa Mozambique Medical Outreach Update

In total we did 67 cataract eye surgeries on the first 2 days of the outreach being May the 14th and 15th. Two ladies told me that they had lost hope of ever seeing again after they had become blind. But this morning their sight was restored. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to share the gospel with them! At the end of the third day (May 16) we had completed 112 cataract surgeries. We were at the hospital from 7am until 6:15pm. By Gods grace all went well with the operations but not without a few challenges: Two of our medical machines, a keratometer and statim sterilizer packed up but thankfully the work can continue. We also ran out of some medical consumables but managed to procure more to finish our work. We had a blessed meeting with the Directorate of Health for the Inhambane province in the afternoon who expressed their appreciation for our work. They said the people are poor and needy and that we bring them hope. The country and health sector is in need of finances and resources and the outreach has already been broadcast on Mozambique national television. Mario Rocha said that after the devotion with the patients that many of them said see Gods hand in receiving their sight back. All glory to God. Today (May 17) we had two special surgery cases: a 1 year and a 4 year old child who were completely blind from cataracts. Children can be born with cataracts for various reasons. It is vitally important to remove them as soon as possible or the child could remain permanently blind. The outcome of these kinds of operations can be somewhat uncertain due to the child developing lazy eyes etc. We are thankful we could do these surgeries to give them a chance to see. Both eyes of both children were operated on. Thankfully Dr Pons brought a few special lenses along on the outreach without which these two surgeries would not have been possible! We have another child scheduled for tomorrow May 18. The good news is that Pieter Bos managed to get the Statim instrument sterilizer working again. We are aiming to do about 38 cases today and TV Mozambique came to do more interviews and filming in theatre for broadcasting. [su_custom_gallery source="media: 4619,4618,4617,4616,4615,4614,4613,4612,4611,4610,4609,4608,4607,4606,4605,4604,4603,4602,4601,4600,4599" limit="100" link="lightbox" width="150" height="150" class="lb_gal_thumbs"]  ]]>

Angola Medical Outreaches

Photos from various medical outreaches to Angola by Doctors For Life

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LIFEalerts: 11 May 2018

Abortion

USA – Debating the pro-abortion argumentsUSA – Abortion is equivalent to murder

Alternative Medicine

[No news today]

Euthanasia

Netherlands – Suicide machine from ‘Dr. Death’ draws outrageBelgium – Research reveals trends in medical practice of euthanasia Belgium – How many people is Flemish doctors really euthanizing?

IVF and Surrogacy

China – Post-one-child-policy causes posthumous conception desperation

Medical Ethics

UK – British toddler Alfie Evans dies in hospitalFrance – Macron encourages Church to speak out on bioethics

Pedophilia

USA – Jennifer Haley creates avatar girls to explore pedophilia

Pornography

India – New law propose death sentence for child rapeUSA – Parents enraged over school sex videos for children

Same Sex Attraction

Nigeria – Homosexual men fight over HIV infectionUSA – First Ever Ex-LGBT march and an uprising of truth USA – Harmful transgender book scientifically inaccurate

Sexual Exploitation

USA – Trump signs ‘FOSTA’ bill targeting online sex traffickingSouth Africa – Sex Trade’s Female Victims have ‘Damaged Lives’

Substance Abuse

UK – Substance abuse and addiction services decline with lack of fundingUSA – New data shows that fatal drug overdose has nearly tripled

Abortion

USA – Debating the pro-abortion arguments

In this 11-minute debate a few interesting points on abortion are raised. First is the argument where the government should not have the right to tell a woman what to do with her body when she is pregnant. However, when a murderer chooses to kill someone we can agree that the government has the right to stop them and the same should apply to the unborn baby. Secondly, the argument of pro-choice groups are strikingly similar to slavery arguments in that someone gets to define human life based on their emotional or financial state, which is a dangerous place to be. The pro-life argument is very simple and clear and the pro-choice groups try and make it complicated so that they can make it morally and emotionally more acceptable to abort the unborn child. When pro-choice people say they had to make a very difficult decision to abort their baby – it tells us that they know they are doing something wrong and that it has moral weight. https://youtu.be/ZcEJ2ArQCBE [back to top]

USA – Abortion is equivalent to murder

Iowa passed a bill that would prohibit abortion after the baby’s heartbeat is detected at 6 weeks of pregnancy. State Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R), while speaking on the House floor, called the bill “a courageous step” that sends the message that Iowa “will defend its most vulnerable, those without a voice – our unborn children.” The bill would require women seeking an abortion to first have an ultrasound, at which time a physician would detect whether there is a heartbeat. The bill also would prohibit someone from acquiring, providing, receiving or using baby body parts in Iowa. A violator could be charged with a Class C felony. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/05/02/iowa-lawmakers-just-passed-one-of-the-most-restrictive-abortion-bills-in-the-u-s/ [back to top]

Alternative Medicine

[No news today]

Euthanasia

Netherlands – Suicide machine from ‘Dr. Death’ draws outrage

A 3D-printed suicide machine designed to aid euthanasia is planned to be made public for the first time at the Amsterdam Funeral Fair. Dubbed the Sacro, the device was created by Dr. Philip Nitschke, a euthanasia activist who’s also known as “Dr. Death”. It has been reported that event attendees could actually try the device using virtual reality technology. Plans to demonstrate the euthanasia machine has sparked outrage. According to critics, Nitschke’s creation is “gruesome” and it also glamorizes suicide. https://www.christiantoday.com/article/suicide-machine-from-dr-death-philip-nitschke-draws-outrage/128393.htm [back to top]

Belgium – Research reveals trends in medical practice of euthanasia

Only about 15{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of euthanasia cases in the semi-autonomous region of Flanders in Belgium are being reported, according to the latest research by physicians. It has long been known that euthanasia is underreported on official forms but that there are about 550{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} more cases of euthanasia than are currently in government statistics seems to have astonished even researchers. Research lists several reasons; physicians consciously or unintentionally not recognizing their cases of euthanasia as such, because they believe that they have not complied with the legal due care criteria (e.g. not reported euthanasia to the evaluation committee as is required by law), because they have privacy concerns for themselves as reporting attaches their name to the euthanasia case and the patient, and because they do not consider it necessary to report it on the death certificate. The lack of clear guidelines is probably also a reason for the low number of euthanasia cases indicated on death certificates. https://www.bioedge.org/ [back to top]

Belgium – How many people is Flemish doctors really euthanizing?

It has long been known that euthanasia is underreported on official forms but that there are about 550{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} more cases of euthanasia than are currently making their way into the government statistics, seems to have astonished even researchers. In a letter to the European Journal of Epidemiology, researchers from the End-of-Life Care Research Group at the Free University of Brussels admit that “death certificates substantially underestimate the frequency of euthanasia as a cause of death in Belgium and are therefore an unreliable tool for monitoring its practice. The authors of a BMJ article noted that “societal control over the euthanasia practice is an important prerequisite for effective euthanasia legislation”. If that is the goal, Belgium’s experiment with euthanasia has failed. https://www.mercatornet.com/careful/view/wow-how-many-people-are-flemish-doctors-really-euthanasing/21259 [back to top]

IVF and Surrogacy

China – Post-one-child-policy causes posthumous conception desperation

An underground market in surrogacy is booming in China after the government reversed the decades-old one-child policy. Nothing illustrates this better than a bizarre legal battle fought by two sets of grandparents over frozen embryos. In 2013 a young couple who had just had IVF treatment were killed in a car accident which appeared to end the bloodline of the two families. The heartbroken grandparents decided to engage a surrogate mother to carry the embryos but the IVF clinic refused to release them, as China has banned surrogacy. Rather than risking the consequences of a lawsuit with the hospital, the two couples sued each other to get the courts to back their case. The court handed down a favorable decision: “The only carrier of the two families’ blood lines carries the burden of their grieving memories and consolation.” A surrogate mother in Laos was impregnated with the embryos and gave birth to the child – a boy named Tiantian, or Sweet-Sweet. China is not the only country where posthumous conception is an issue. In Israel an informal legal instrument has been created, the “biological will” to cater for the spouses and grandparents of men who died before they were able to have children. The document asserts that “a person who has their semen or eggs frozen would like them to be posthumously used to create offspring”. https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/in-post-one-child-policy-china-posthumous-conception-is-a-matter-of-despera/12654 [back to top]

Medical Ethics

UK – British toddler Alfie Evans dies in hospital

Terminally ill British toddler Alfie Evans has died just a little under one week after having life support withdrawn. The protracted legal dispute over the boy’s fate reached its climax with protesters attempting to storm Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in a bid to have the boy released. Evans was suffering from an unidentified neurodegenerative disease and specialists from Alder Hey Hospital said that “almost the entirety of Alfie’s brain has been eroded, leaving only water and cerebral spinal fluid”. Vox News journalist Tara Isabella Burton summarized the debate as a disagreement about whether parents or the state should decide what is in the best interests of a child: Ultimately, however, the Evans case is about who gets to decide what the best interest of a child really is. When the view of the state and the view of a child’s parents are at odds, who gets to have the final say? The answer ties into wider questions about medical ethics and what it means for a life to be “not worth living,” and about popular trust, or lack thereof, in the UK’s National Health Service, a paradigmatic example of both the pros and cons of socialized medicine. https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/Alfie/12674 [back to top]

France – Macron encourages Church to speak out on bioethics

In a speech that garnered both criticism and praise, French President Emmanuel Macron told a gathering of Catholic bishops they should not be afraid to contribute to public debate, saying that Christians bring a valuable perspective on the human person to otherwise secular political discussions. Macron said that “Our contemporaries need, whether they believe or do not believe, to hear from another perspective on man than the material perspective…They need to quench another thirst, which is a thirst for absolute. Macron praised the Church for its consistent defense of the vulnerable in society, ranging from the unborn and the elderly to migrants and the poor. “You consider that our duty is to protect life, especially when this life is defenseless. The speech appears to be an invitation for the Church to express its opposition to impending bioethics legislation due to be introduced in the French parliament by the end of the year. The legislation will seek to make single women and lesbian couples eligible for assisted reproduction, which currently is only available to infertile heterosexual couples in France. It would also reconsider legalizing euthanasia, which is now banned. https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/macron-encourages-french-bishops-to-speak-out-on-bioethics/12650 [back to top]

Pedophilia

USA – Jennifer Haley creates avatar girls to explore pedophilia

Is virtual reality real? Is it so real that some of our interactions in computer-simulated, 3-D environments should be banned? Jennifer Haley has produced a provocative play unlike most of the popular war and fantasy games on the market; this game takes you into one of the darker corners of cyberspace. This is about men who are free to indulge their sexual desires with pre-pubescent girls. What is most unsettling are the issues the playwright raises about the lure and morality of the boundaries between imagining and acting. Ms Haley wanted to probe the potential ethical issues arising from our fascination with computerized illusions. Recently criminal justice officials in Germany, Australia and other countries have debated whether visitors of “underground” virtual sites that involve pedophilia should be prosecuted for child pornography crimes. Some have suggested that virtual reality avatars of young girls be used to help identify, diagnose and possibly punish the adult clients. http://news.abs-cbn.com/life/03/18/17/theater-review-disturbing-nether-takes-us-to-the-dark-internet [back to top]

Pornography

India – New law propose death sentence for child rape

Amid growing anger over rising incidents of child rape cases India has started the process to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), 2012, to ensure maximum punishment of the death penalty in child rape cases where the victim is under 12 years of age. The Act was framed to protect children from offences of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography. The move comes amid rising tensions over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu and the alleged rape of a minor in Unnao. There is a rising national consensus for punishments that set an example in both the cases. https://www.firstpost.com/india/centre-tells-supreme-court-process-is-underway-to-ensure-death-penalty-for-child-rape-under-pocso-act-4439429.html [back to top]

USA – Parents enraged over school sex videos for children

On behalf of parents enraged that their 14-year-old girls at a Virginia high school were exposed to pornographic videos and curriculum, a Christian legal group is demanding that the Planned Parenthood affiliated agency presenting the obscene material be prohibited from continuing its so-called “education” classes. Parents were particularly upset over the fact that they were not asked or even forewarned about the sexually explicit content being presented to their early teens. “The ‘Sex Positivity’ curriculum was presented without the consent or knowledge of parents. Nowhere in the curriculum are the words ‘abstinence’, ‘legal,’ ‘moral,’ ‘faith,’ or ‘parents. However, the word ‘sex’ or derivatives appears more than 49 times in the document, including the sentence ‘I’d like to have sex tonight, would you?’ https://www.onenewsnow.com/education/2018/04/28/parents-enraged-over-schools-sex-vids-for-14-y-os [back to top]

Same Sex Attraction

Nigeria – Homosexual men fight over HIV infection

In Lagos State, Nigeria, a man infected with HIV by his boyfriend protested against his boyfriend wanting to sleep with another man and infect him too. The argument quickly broke out into a fight that had neighbours calling the police for help. Inter-partner violence is a common occurrence in the homosexual community. In the Journal of Human Sexuality (volume 1) of 2009 on page 87, studies reviewed and derived from hundreds of sources by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH), reveal that despite homosexuals knowing the risks, they repeatedly and pathologically continue to indulge in unsafe sex practices. Homosexuals have the highest number of STI cases and many homosexual sex practices are medically dangerous, with or without protection. Homosexual relationships in comparison to heterosexual relationships are far more violent and frequent and more than one third of homosexual men and women are substance abusers. 1) https://www.360nobs.com/2018/04/homosexuals-fight-dirty-after-contracting-hiv-in-lagos/#comment-1059537 2) http://www.factsaboutyouth.com/wp-content/uploads/What-research-shows-homosexuality.NARTH_.pdf [back to top]

USA – First Ever Ex-LGBT march and an uprising of truth

In Washington the first ever Ex-LGBT Freedom March will be hosted by an Organisation called Voice of the Voiceless which supports and advocates for individuals that have left the homosexual lifestyle. Attendees from around the country will attend and share their journey of life before and after homosexuality. The movement of so many individuals debunks the claims from LGBT advocates and medical organisations (that have abandoned science and research integrity) which have said homosexuality is “unchangeable”. https://www.christianpost.com/news/men-women-who-left-homosexuality-transgenderism-rally-freedom-march-223443/ [back to top]

USA – Harmful transgender book scientifically inaccurate

Michael K. Laidlaw, MD is a board-certified physician in Rocklin, California specializing in endocrinology who reviewed the book for children called “I am Jazz” by Jazz Jennings about an adolescent being “diagnosed” as transgender. Dr. Laidlaw expresses concerns from a medical point of view that this book makes false claims that are scientifically incorrect and fails to mention the “multitude of health risks, potential infertility and sexual dysfunction associated with the hormonal and surgical treatment of gender dysphoria. “I could not in good conscience recommend these treatments to any child or adolescent.” Harm has already occurred at Rocklin Academy in a kindergarten class where the book was read as a number in the class were emotionally harmed. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/04/21220/ [back to top]

Sexual Exploitation

USA – Trump signs ‘FOSTA’ bill targeting online sex trafficking

President Trump signed a bill that gives federal and state prosecutors power to pursue websites that host sex-trafficking ads and enables victims and state attorney general’s to file lawsuits against those sites. The signing comes just days after seven executives for Backpage.com were arrested on a 93-count indictment that alleges the website facilitated prostitution and laundered tens of millions of dollars in profits and that teenage girls were sold for sex on the site. Some of those girls were killed. The government also shut down Backpage’s classified ad websites around the world and moved to seize houses and bank accounts around the United States. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2018/04/11/trump-signs-fosta-bill-targeting-online-sex-trafficking-enables-states-and-victims-to-pursue-websites/?utm_term=.7bac6412e2b8&noredirect=on [back to top]

South Africa – Sex Trade’s Female Victims have ‘Damaged Lives’

A quarter of a million people live in modern slavery in South Africa. Every eight hours a woman is killed by a male partner and one woman in five has suffered rape or sexual assault at least once. Among prostituted women estimates of HIV rates range between 39 percent and 71 percent. Men from both the U.S. and the U.K. regularly travel as sex tourists and pay to have sex with the most vulnerable and marginalized women and girls. The presence of international aid agencies, charities and nongovernmental organizations working toward developing better civil society infrastructures appear to do relatively little to tackle the problem of sex trafficking. Until paying for sex under any circumstance is stigmatized and criminalized and women and girls are helped to escape the sex trade, trafficking will continue to flourish and abusers will act with impunity Julie Bindel is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and researcher and has been active in the global campaign to end violence towards women and children. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/sex-trades-female-victims-spoiled-goods-damaged-lives/ [back to top]

Substance Abuse

UK – Substance abuse and addiction services decline with lack of funding

Dependency services are at a crisis point as a result of a lack of funding from government, a new survey has warned. In a report from Alcohol Research UK and Alcohol Concern, the survey, which received 154 completed responses from medical professionals and service users, found that only 12{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of the medical facilities and doctors surveyed felt that substance abuse services in their area were sufficient and cuts of up to 58{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} were reported. ”Public Health England estimates that around 595,000 people in England alone are in need of specialist treatment. In 2016-17, only 80,454 people received treatment for dependencies, with 80{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of substance and alcohol dependent people currently not in rehabilitation services. Government needs to recognise the vital role that treatment plays in addressing the tragic consequences dependency can have on individuals.” http://www.publicsectorexecutive.com/Robot-News/substance-abuse-and-addiction-services-decline-with-lack-of-funding- [back to top]

USA – New data shows that fatal drug overdose has nearly tripled

Fatal drug overdoses nearly tripled between 2014 and 2017 according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Opioid related fatal overdoses accounted for nearly 61 percent of overdoses in 2016 and for 63 percent of the fatal overdoses in 2017. Deaths from heroin and synthetic opioids increased sharply across many states. Between 2014 and 2017 fatal overdoses involving synthetic opioids increased by 71{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}.This epidemic is a problem that doesn’t discriminate. Rates of opioid deaths increased overall between both sexes aged 25 to 44 and all ethnic groups. The CDC data was analyzed by the Office on National Drug Control Policy and revealed that opioid related fatalities outnumbered gun-related deaths by nearly 3 to 1. https://www.drugaddictionnow.com/2016/12/16/fatal-drug-overdoses-nearly-tripled-new-cdc-data-shows/2/ [back to top] Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International]]>

LIFEalerts: 20 April 2018

Hawaii legalises assisted suicide

Abortion

Ireland – Poll shows support for abortion is declining Argentina – Hundreds of thousands march to protest legalized abortion

Alternative Medicine

[No news today]

Euthanasia

USA – Battle for medical conscience rights of doctors’ USA – Not a single patient has used new controversial assisted suicide law USA – Hawaii legalizes assisted suicide

IVF and Surrogacy

USA – Woman discovers her father was her mother’s fertility doctor

Medical Ethics

USA – Time for Gene Editing global ‘observatory’ UK/USA – When should we provide life sustaining care for premature babies? UK – Nuffield Council issues note on whole genome sequencing of babies

Pedophilia

China – Call Me by Your Name’ Pulled From Beijing Film Festival Australia – Deported reoffending pedophile sparks law review

Pornography

[No news today]

Same Sex Attraction

Indonesia – Government blocks 80,000 websites USA – Military transgender ban

Sexual Exploitation

Thailand – Tourism body says it opposes ‘sex tourism’

Substance Abuse

USA – Quantifying population-level health harms of e-cigarette use Canada – Energy drinks cause many sudden cardiac deaths in young people USA – Binge drinking rates among students are worrying

Abortion

Ireland – Poll shows support for abortion is declining

The Irish Mirror reports on a poll that found a major drop in support for the pro-abortion campaign. Ireland has been under great pressure to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects unborn babies’ right to life. Pro-Life Irish families have been knocking on doors across Ireland to urge voters to consider the life of the unborn and to make known the consequences of abortion. Despite biased media and illegal donations, the efforts of Pro-life groups are changing minds. http://www.lifenews.com/2018/03/26/poll-shows-irish-campaign-to-legalize-abortion-losing-ground/#.Wrn_s_MH3ms.twitter [back to top]

Argentina – Hundreds of thousands march to protest legalized abortion

Thousands of Argentineans’ filled the streets in 200 cities across the country to March for life against a bill that would permit the killing of babies up to nine months! The march was promoted and included free ultrasounds for pregnant women and collections of donations for charities that help mothers in distress. 50,000 people marched in the capital of Buenos Aires and other cities reported seeing crowds of up to 20,000 participants in the “Great Rally for Life” under the theme “Save them both”. The bill is currently being debated in Argentina’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/hundreds-of-thousands-march-to-protest-legalized-abortion-in-argentina [back to top]

Alternative Medicine

[No news today]

Euthanasia

USA – Battle for medical conscience rights of doctors’

Medical conscience is the new battlefront in right to life issues. The Trump administration announced rules that place emphasis on enforcing federal laws protecting medical conscience. Supporters of “medical conscience” argue that forcing doctors to participate in interventions they find morally abhorrent is involuntary medical servitude. Pro-euthanasia lobbies are strategically dismantling laws which protect medical practice in the United States and Canada. Some bioethicists are lobbying to enact laws that would give dementia patients the right to sign an advance directive requiring nursing homes to starve them to death once they reach a specified level of cognitive decline and increasing calls to do away with the dead-donor rule in transplant medicine so that patients can be organ-harvested while still alive. Assisted-suicide advocates are pushing an “aggressive advance directive” that would force nursing homes to starve dementia patients, even if they willingly eat, when they reach a specified stage of cognitive decline. http://www.lifenews.com/2018/04/02/euthanasia-activists-wants-nursing-homes-to-starve-dementia-patients-to-death/ [back to top]

USA – Not a single patient has used new controversial assisted suicide law

Nearly a year after the District of Columbia enacted a law (2016) allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives, disregarding the objections of congressional Republicans, religious groups and advocates for those with disabilities, not a single patient has used it. Just two of the approximately 11,000 physicians licensed to practice in the District have registered to help patients exercise their rights under the law and only one hospital has cleared doctors to participate. Mary Klein, a D.C. resident in the final stages of cancer who became the public face of the pro-euthanasia movement, says she hasn’t been able to find a willing doctor. The physician community was not out there advocating for it, according to Pia Duryea, spokeswoman for the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. No local practicing physician testified in favor of the measure and several opposed it, during debate before the D.C. Council. The bill allows patients with less than six months to live to receive a fatal dose of drugs after making two requests at least 15 days apart. Two witnesses must attest that the requesting patient was of sound mind, and patients must take the medication without assistance. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/a-year-after-dc-passed-its-assisted-suicide-law-only-two-doctors-have-signed-up/2018/04/10/823cf7e2-39ca-11e8-9c0a-85d477d9a226_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.139d0aafa5ac [back to top]

USA – Hawaii legalizes assisted suicide

Hawaii has become the seventh American jurisdiction where assisted-suicide is legal, by a vote of 23-2. Governor David Inge signed the bill. “It is time for terminally ill, mentally competent Hawaii residents who are suffering to make their own end-of-life choices with dignity, grace and peace,” he said. The legislatures of Hawaii, Oregon, Washington State, California, Colorado, Vermont, Montana and the District of Columbia are all permitting assisted suicide now. In the same time ten states have passed laws explicitly banning assisted suicide. The latest was Utah, where the criminal code was clarified to include assisted suicide. It was prompted by a gruesome case in which 18-year-old Tyerell Przybycien helped 16-year-old Jchandra Brown to hang herself and filmed her last moments. https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/hawaii-legalises-assisted-suicide/12646?utm_source=BioEdge&utm_campaign=5017a47ef9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_04_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_76ab23e62c-5017a47ef9-124733715 [back to top]

IVF and Surrogacy

USA – Woman discovers her father was her mother’s fertility doctor

Genetic testing company Ancestry.com has become a leading source for people to track their heritage. However, the company warns “We are committed to delivering the most accurate results, however with this, people may learn of unexpected connections”, as with Kelli Rowlette, a 36-year-old American woman who used the company’s services to complete her family tree. Unexpectedly, the man whom the test showed to be her father was unknown to her. She thought it was an error and complained to her now-divorced parents who knew immediately what the problem was. They had fertility problems and sought help from a fertility clinic. Because of the husband’s low sperm count, the doctor, Gerald Mortimer, offered to use 85{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of the husband’s sperm and 15{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} donor sperm. The couple specified that the donor should be a college man taller than six feet with brown hair and blue eyes. Instead, Dr Mortimer used his own sperm. He remained the doctor of Ms Rowlett’s mother and delivered her in 1981, without ever divulging the secret. She and her parents are suing Mortimer and Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates for US$10 million, accusing them of medical negligence, fraud, battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract. https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/us-woman-discovers-that-her-father-was-her-mothers-fertility-doctor/12644 [back to top]

Medical Ethics

USA – Time for Gene Editing global ‘observatory’

Through CRISPR gene editing scientist can literally change the nature of any cell and genetically alter every life form. Yet we are not having a meaningful discussion about whether and how to regulate what I believe to be the most powerful technology ever invented says Bioethicist Wesley Smith. In the journal Nature, authors Sheila Jasanoff, professor of science and technology at Harvard Kennedy School, and J. Benjamin Hurlbut associate professor of biology and society at Arizona State University, argue it is time for a “global observatory,” which is essentially an international heart-to-heart discussion. In current bioethical debates there is a tendency to fall back on the framings of those who are at the frontiers of research. But free enquiry, the lifeblood of science, does not mean untrammeled freedom to do anything. As the dark histories of eugenics and abusive research on human subjects remind us, it is at our peril that we leave the human future to be adjudicated in biotechnology’s own “ecclesiastical courts”. It is time to invite in voices and concerns that are currently inaudible to those in centers of biological innovation and to draw on the full richness of humanity’s moral imagination. An international, interdisciplinary observatory would be an important step in this direction. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-03270-w [back to top]

UK/USA – When should we provide life sustaining care for premature babies?

A new article in Bioethics criticizes policies in neonatal care units that mandate the withholding of treatment from babies born before 25 weeks gestation. Neonatologist Manya Hendriks (University Hospital Zurich) and pediatrician John Lantos (Children’s Mercy Hospital) argue that many extremely premature babies born between 22 weeks and 25 gestation can survive and develop healthily if given adequate treatment. Yet many neonatal intensive care units in Europe and North America routinely withhold treatment based on the fact that they were born before 25 weeks gestation. In evaluating current neonatal care policies the authors write that neonates are sometimes seen as “conditional persons” with less of a claim on our health care resources than fully-developed adult human beings. The authors assert that newborns, even those born prematurely, are full-fledged members of the human community and have the same right to treatment as other humans. This entails giving extreme preterm babies the best possible chance to life. Policies and practices that limit treatment based on gestational age alone violate this basic principle of justice. https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/when-should-we-provide-life-sustaining-care-for-premature-babies/12643 [back to top]

UK – Nuffield Council issues note on whole genome sequencing of babies

Whole genome sequencing is starting to be used in the UK’s National Health Service in the care of seriously ill babies, and will also become available through commercial companies. This raises important questions about what kind of genetic information should be shared with parents, how parents can be supported to make informed choices, and how genomic information should be stored and accessed by others, such as researchers. Within the medical genetics community, using whole genome sequencing to look opportunistically for a broad range of conditions and traits in babies who are not ill is widely thought to be unacceptable. Researchers generally agree that direct-to-consumer genetic tests for children should normally be deferred until they are adults. There are also broader questions about whether increased uptake of whole genome sequencing will change views about genetic variation and disability in society. Professor Dave Archard, Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics says: “Genome sequencing technology has moved at an incredible pace, and we are starting to see the benefits that it can offer to patients with genetic disease. But we need to think carefully about how we handle the sensitive information that can be revealed. Babies do not get a say in this, making it especially important that they, and others, are not disadvantaged in their future lives by a decision taken at birth. We need to make sure there are opportunities for public consideration of the challenges.” https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/nuffield-council-issues-brief-note-on-whole-genome-sequencing-of-babies/12638 [back to top]

Pedophilia

China – Call Me by Your Name’ Pulled From Beijing Film Festival

Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name,” which just won an Oscar for adapted screenplay, has been pulled from the Beijing Film Festival. The festival’s removal of the gay-themed coming-of-age film, first reported by Reuters, comes as Chinese authorities tighten their control over media content of this nature. Earlier this month, China’s rubber-stamp parliament voted to allow the Communist Party’s propaganda department to have control over the film, news and publishing. “Call Me by Your Name,” is handled by Sony Pictures Entertainment. It follows the romance between a teenager and a much older graduate student over a summer in the Italian countryside. This is in and of itself a victory against the normalizing of pedophilic tendencies in a main stream cinema. http://variety.com/2018/film/news/call-me-by-your-name-pulled-from-beijing-film-festival-1202736106/ [back to top]

Australia – Deported reoffending pedophile sparks law review

A pedophile, who sexually abused two boys in Australia after being deported from Canada for raping his stepson, has prompted the attorney general of Australia to look at required law changes. Attorney General John Quigley conceded it was “a huge problem” that pedophiles could relocate and continue abusing children without the strictest possible monitoring. The dangerous sex offender’s act only allows for people who are in prison to be declared a dangerous sex offender, not people who have been deported back to Australia after serving a prison term overseas. Mr. Quigley said he now realizes the oversight and would look at what laws need to be changed. Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was “every parent’s worst nightmare” and he expected people deported to Australia to be checked in future. https://www.9news.com.au/national/2018/04/11/15/34/wa-pedophile-reoffending-sparks-law-review [back to top]

Pornography

[No news today]

Same Sex Attraction

Indonesia – Government blocks 80,000 websites

Indonesia has taken major steps to crack down on human trafficking and pornography. The Ministry of Communications and Informatics have shut down and blocked many LGBT dating apps because they discovered that under-aged boys were being sold for sex. The Ministry also blocks other websites that host pornographic material and fake news sites. Homosexuality is not illegal in the country but legislation is moving to restrict the communities’ rights and activities and also to ban propaganda. http://asiamedia.lmu.edu/2018/03/26/indonesia-government-blockage-to-end-all-lgbt-and-pornography-on-internet-tumbles-into-irrationality-and-overkill/ [back to top]

USA – Military transgender ban

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reported on the study and findings of the Defense Department which found transgender persons to be a risk to military effectiveness and could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion and impose an unreasonable burden on the military. The new policy issued by President Trump will enable the military to apply a well-established mental and physical health standard and would disqualify transgender persons from serving in the military except if they are already in ranks or if they show for a period of 36 months that they no longer suffer from the psychological condition. Those that do not seek to transition with surgery can serve but as the sex they were assigned at birth. https://www.lc.org/newsroom/details/032618-military-transgender-ban [back to top]

Sexual Exploitation

Thailand – Tourism body says it opposes ‘sex tourism’

Thailand’s tourism body has said in a statement that it “strongly opposes any form of sex tourism” as it hopes to welcome a record number of vacationers this year. “The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) ensures that it’s marketing strategy and policy to move Thailand forward as the ‘Quality Destination’ has stepped in the right direction … and strongly opposes any form of sex tourism,” the TAT said in a statement. Signs offering “soapy massages”, bubble baths given to brothel clients that usually end with sex and go-go bars have helped to bolster Thailand’s reputation as a sex destination. There are around 123,530 prostitutes in Thailand according to a 2014 UNAIDS report. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/01/asia-pacific/thailands-tourism-body-says-opposes-sex-tourism/#.WsZgL-NuLct [back to top]

Substance Abuse

USA – Quantifying population-level health harms of e-cigarette use

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) may help cigarette smokers quit smoking but more than likely will facilitate cigarette smoking for never-smokers. Using the Monte Carlo stochastic simulation model parameters were drawn from census counts, national health and published literature. The model estimated that 168,000 additional never-cigarette smoking adolescents aged 12–17 and young adults aged 18–29, would initiate cigarette smoking in 2018 and eventually become daily cigarette smokers at age 35–39 through the use of e-cigarettes from 2017. Overall, the model estimated that e-cigarette use in 2017 would lead to 1,510,000 years of life lost. Based on the existing scientific evidence related to e-cigarettes, use currently represents more population level harm. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0193328 [back to top]

Canada – Energy drinks cause many sudden cardiac deaths in young people

High amounts of caffeine can aggravate underlying heart issues, causing fatal arrhythmias in many adolescents and young adults. A new study by an international research team, led by Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar of Madrid, Spain, has concluded that energy drinks are the cause of many sudden cardiac deaths in young, healthy individuals. The problem is that there are many additional sources of caffeine that are “masked” by the labeling. Ingredients such as guarana, ginseng and taurine have very high caffeine concentrations that are higher than found in coffee. Roughly 31{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of adolescents from ages 12 to 19 consume energy drinks on a regular basis. Of 5,448 caffeine overdoses in 2017, 46{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of them occurred in people under the age of 19. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/energy-drinks-the-cause-of-many-sudden-cardiac-deaths-in-young-people-researchers-find-040315.html [back to top]

USA – Binge drinking rates among students are worrying

Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) say that binge drinking is becoming more prevalent among young people. Study author Ralph Hingson, Sc.D., M.P.H., says the problem may stem from young adults who aren’t in college; there aren’t the same organizational supports to implement interventions he said. The group found that binge drinking and related problems increased among people aged 18-24, 45{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of students reported drinking more than 5 drinks at an occasion at least once in the last 30 days and 28{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. There is an urgent need to stop extreme binge drinking which has become a serious public health concern. The full study has been published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/binge-drinking-is-trending-down-among-college-students-study-finds-073117.html [back to top] Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International]]>

Mozambique Medical Outreaches

Photos from various medical outreaches to Mozambique by Doctors For Life

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