Bioethics Blog Posts Tagged guidelines

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Calling Hollywood: have we got a script for you!

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Source: BioEdge.org.

Source: BioEdge.org.

Liz Van Note acquitted   

Amongst the exiguous collateral benefits of the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia are scripts for B-grade Hollywood films and TV dramas. On cable TV in Canada and the US “Mary Kills People” is currently being screened. This being is billed as “a provocative six-episode dark comedic drama series” about an ER doctor who illegally moonlights as an “angel of death” for the terminally ill.

But the best plots come from real life. This one from Missouri shows how family quarrels, criminal weaknesses and money intersect in advance directives.

Susan “Liz” Van Note has been found innocent of the murders of her father, William Van Note, and his partner, Sharon Dickson in 2010. They were shot and stabbed to death at their home. Ms Dickson died at the scene; Mr Van Note was unconscious and taken to hospital. Liz Van Note was described in the media as a lawyer specialising in end-of-life issues. She was also the executor of her father’s estate. At the hospital she produced a durable power of attorney which in which he had declared that life support should be turned off after four days. She insisted, the doctors complied and he died.

At the trial it emerged that Mr Van Note’s estate was worth about US$8 million and that he had left the bulk of it to Ms Dickson, to the consternation of his daughter, who was in serious financial difficulties. The defence attorney pinned the the murder on a mysterious man who was unable to repay a debt of $600,000 to Mr Van Note.

This article was originally published on BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons License. If you enjoyed this article, visit BioEdge.org for more.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors / blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

US report gives cautious green light to gene editing

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Source: BioEdge.org.

Source: BioEdge.org.

Human germline genome editing may be permissible following further research, according to a controversial report released on Tuesday by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine.

The report outlines several criteria that should be met before allowing germline editing clinical trials to proceed. The criteria include the need for strict clinical oversight, credible pre-clinical data on risk and health benefits, and the assurance of “long-term multigenerational follow-up”.

Germline genome editing is an ethically contentious area of research, with many experts concerned that defective genes will be passed onto future generations. Unlike human genome editing, which takes place in children or adults and cannot be inherited, germline genome editing takes place in gametes or embryos and the altered genes can be inherited.

The committee acknowledged ethical concerns surrounding the research, but suggested an approach of “caution” rather than “prohibition”. The authors outlined a set of principles that should guide government research policy, including the ‘promotion of well-being’, ‘transparency’, and the exercise of ‘due care’. Trials should only be conducted for “treating or preventing serious disease or disabilities”.

Experts were divided over the report.

Eric Lander of the Broad Institute said that the report struck an appropriate balance between regulation and research: “They have closed the door to the vast majority of germline applications and left it open for a very small, well-defined subset. That’s not unreasonable in my opinion”.

Marcy Darnovsky of the Center for Genetics and Society was “deeply disappointed”: “Although [the recommendations] are couched in apparently cautionary language, they actually constitute a green light for proceeding with efforts to modify the human germline — that is, to engineer the genes and traits that are passed on to future children and generations.”

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence.

This article was originally published on BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons License. If you enjoyed this article, visit BioEdge.org for more.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors / blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.