domingo, 28 de agosto de 2016

BioEdge: Legal heads-up on decapitation

BioEdge: Legal heads-up on decapitation


Legal heads-up on decapitation

As a Chinese doctor plans the world’s first head transplant, a renowned medical law expert has weighed into the debate.

In a blog post on the Volokh Conspiracy, Duke University law professor Nita Farahany said that the operation – which the international medical community almost unanimously agrees has no chance of success – would likely not even satisfy the legal criteria for consent if it were performed in the US. Interestingly, Farahany contrasts an operation like a head transplant with physician-assisted dying:

…although there has been some liberalization of physician-assisted suicide laws in the United States, active euthanasia is illegal. And although the surgeon here would say that he is not attempting to end the patient’s life, it seems as if active euthanasia could be the most lenient characterization of a surgery involving decapitation. Yet, the physician does not intend for the patient to die. Instead, the physician intends for the patient to be restored to walking with a new body and an intact brain. So although the physician intends his conduct, he does not intend to bring about death, even though it is probable. So the surgeon’s conduct could be viewed as intentional or reckless homicide if the patient dies.
As Farahany observes, “a patient cannot consent to intentional or reckless homicide”.  

She does, however, acknowledge that it might be compared to other high-risk operations:

Alternately, is the right way to analyze a proposed head transplant as an assumable risk in surgery? We permit surgeons to operate on patients every day, even though they may die, and many do. Is this head transplant surgery just a very risky surgery to which a patient can (or should be able) to legally consent?
Speaking with the New York Times in June, bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan said he was deeply suspicious of the operation being planned in China: 

“The Chinese system is not transparent in any way…I do not trust Chinese bioethical deliberation or policy. Add healthy doses of politics, national pride and entrepreneurship, and it is tough to know what is going on.”
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I must be getting old. For most of my life, I have been reading about the global need to curb births and the unmet demand for contraception. And then I opened this week’s edition of The Economist and discovered that the main problem facing couples is the unmet demand for children.
The Economist surveyed 19 countries, asking people how many children they wanted and how many they expected to have. The results were astonishing.
“For more and more couples, the greatest source of anguish is that they have fewer children than they want, or none at all. … In every rich country we surveyed, couples expect to be less fertile than they would like, and many in developing countries suffer the same sorrow….
“The pain of having no or fewer children than you desire is often extreme. It can cause depression and in poor countries can be a social catastrophe. Couples impoverish themselves pursuing ineffective treatments; women who are thought to be barren are divorced, ostracised or worse.”
I hope that executives at Marie Stopes International (see article below), the United Nations Population Fund and all the other global agencies dedicated to shrinking family sizes read The Economist’s advice:
"Governments and aid agencies have turned family planning into a wholly one-sided campaign, dedicated to minimising teenage pregnancies and unwanted births; it has come to mean family restriction. Instead, family planning ought to mean helping people to have as many, or as few, children as they want."

Michael Cook

This week in BioEdge

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
Is its goal defeating terrorism or expelling a minority group?

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
How many hundreds of babies were stolen from their parents in the early days of Israel?

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
What will happen to the UAS$1billion business

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
JAMA says that the consensus was wrong

by Michael Cook | Aug 27, 2016
Regulators cite concerns about governance and safety

by Xavier Symons | Aug 26, 2016
Duke University law professor Nita Farahany says that head transplants would not pass the consent test

by Xavier Symons | Aug 25, 2016
Does it lead to “bigoted, discriminatory medicine”?

by Xavier Symons | Aug 25, 2016
Where is the evidence for sexual orientation and gender identity?
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