sábado, 12 de marzo de 2016

BioEdge: More bracket creep in Belgian euthanasia

BioEdge: More bracket creep in Belgian euthanasia

More bracket creep in 
Belgian euthanasia
Three bills which could significantly expand the scope of 
euthanasia in Belgium have been proposed by Laurette 
Onkelinx, the leader of the Belgian Socialists and a former
Deputy Prime Minister.
The first (PDF) would remove a five-year sunset clause for
advance declaration of a patient’s willingness to accept
euthanasia. This would mean that a document written 20 or
30 years before would be valid, no matter what a patient
might have thought in recent times.
The second (PDF) would force doctors to give a rapid turn-around
to requests for euthanasia. They would have to answer
within seven days. If they refused, they would have to
transfer the patient’s file to a doctor who would be willing
to give a lethal injection. This threatens to remove physicians’
right to conscientious objection to euthanasia. It would also
force doctors to treat a request as a matter of urgency, even
though it might have come during a psychological crisis
which would soon pass.
The third (PDF) would remove the right of institutions like
hospitals or nursing homes to refuse to allow euthanasia on
their premises. Ms Onkelinx insists that institutions have no
right to conscientious objection; only doctors do. Her bill
affirms a doctor’s right to follow his conscientious belief in
the practice of euthanasia. In an explanatory memorandum,
she invokes the principle that “a doctor can be neither forced
to nor prevented from practicing euthanasia in legal conditions,
wherever he might be.”
Although the proposals are radical, they have hardly been
reported, even in the Belgian media. 
- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/more-bracket-creep-in-belgian-euthanasia/11796#sthash.Fyrzs46C.dpuf


I must confess that one of the most difficult things about editing BioEdge is that it is difficult to compose punny headlines. Any editor worth his salt wants to sprinkle a publications with puns. The Economist’s sub-editors are masters of the inobtrusive pun. I recall fondly a story about hallucinogenic mushrooms which was headed “Fungi to be with”.  
However, there is such a thing as taste – and ethics -- and puns over most of our stories would be either morbid or ribald. That’s one reason why I am looking forward to more developments with CRISPR. Some day I’ll be able to use “Ethics on gene editing CRISPR but no clearer” or “CRISPR holds promise of abundant fruit”. Sooner or later “Belgian govt’s waffle on euthanasia slated by ethicist” will come true. Or “Cloned baby to be named John-John.” Or “Euthanasia law comes into effect today” – but you need to be Australian to appreciate that one.
This is the kind of thing I think about a lot. So I was dismayed to read that bad puns may be a sign of a degenerative brain disorder. A new paper in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences describes two patients afflicted by “intractable joking.” One was dragged along to the doctor by his wife because he kept waking her in the middle of the night to regale her with new puns he had just composed. The other lost his job after asking “Who the hell chose this God-awful place?” Scans showed that both had experienced damage to the right hemisphere of the brain.
I suppose their experience can be summed up in the old joke: “They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. Well, they’re not laughing now.”  Any ideas from readers about puns for bioethicists? 

Michael Cook

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