Hawaii legalised assisted suicide this week. It becomes the seventh American jurisdiction to do so. Since 1997, the legislatures of Hawaii, Oregon, Washington state, California, Colorado, Vermont and the District of Columbia have passed laws permitting assisted suicide. In Montana, a court decision found that it was legal, but there has been no legislation.
The new law follows the controversial Oregon model. One of the drawbacks of this legislation is its definition of "terminal illness". It is usually understood to be a condition which will lead to death withinn six months or a year. But if a patient decides to spurn all treatment, treatment which could keep them alive for years, his or her illness will automatically become "terminal". This is a flimsy basis for such an important law.
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The genetic testing company Ancestry.com has become a leading source for people to track their heritage. However, the company warns that “We are committed to delivering the most accurate results, however with this, people may learn of unexpected connections.”
Unexpected and unwelcome, in some cases. 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 that it was an error and complained to her now-divorced parents.
They knew immediately what the problem was. They had fertility problems and sought help from a fertility clinic in southern Idaho. Because of the husband’s low sperm count, the doctor, Gerald Mortimer, offered to create a cocktail composed of 85% of the husband’s sperm and 15% donor sperm. the couple specified that the donor should be a college man taller than six feet with brown hair and blue eyes.
Instead, the Ancestry.com test indicates, Dr Mortimer used his own sperm. He remained the doctor of Ms Rowlette’s mother and delivered her in 1981, without ever divulging the secret.
She and her parents are The family is suing Mortimer and Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls for US$10 million, accusing them of medical negligence, fraud, battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.