After Months In A Dish, Lab-Grown Minibrains Start Making ‘Brain Waves’

National Public Radio

Jon Hamilton

By the time a fetus is 6 months old, it is producing electrical signals recognizable as brain waves.

And clusters of lab-grown human brain cells known as organoids seem to follow a similar schedule, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

“After these organoids are in that six-to-nine-months range, that’s when [the electrical patterns] start to look a lot like what you’d see with a preterm infant,” says Alysson Muotri, director of the stem cell program at the University of California, San Diego. . . [Full text]

Japanese scientist to use human-animal hybrids to create organs

BioEdge

Michael Cook

A Japanese stem cell scientist has obtained permission to create human-animal chimeras and transplant them into surrogate animals. Hiromitsu Nakauchi, a researcher at the University of Tokyo and at Stanford University, plans to insert induced pluripotent human cells into mouse embryos. His ultimate aim is to grow human organs in animals. . . [Full text]

Spanish and US scientists go to China to create human-monkey chimeras

BioEdge

Michael Cook

In a stunning example of evading ethical controversy by exporting it, Spanish and American researchers have created monkey-human chimeras in China. The hybrid embryos will be destroyed after they develop a central nervous system and will not be brought to term. . . [Full text]

Scientists Make Model Embryos From Stem Cells To Study Key Steps In Human Development

National Public Radio

Rob Stein

Scientists have created living entities that resemble very primitive human embryos, the most advanced example of these structures yet created in a lab.

The researchers hope these creations, made from human embryonic stem cells, will provide crucial new insights into human development and lead to new ways to treat infertility and prevent miscarriages, birth defects and many diseases. The researchers say this is the first timescientists have created living models of human embryos with three-dimensional structures.

The researchers reported their findings Monday in a paper published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

But the research is stirring debate about how far scientists should go in creating living models of human embryos, sometimes called embryoids. . . [Full text]

UK bill seeks to protect conscientious objection for medical practitioners

Crux

Catholic News Agency

LONDON – A bill in the British Parliament would clarify the rights of conscientious objection for medical professionals, protecting them from participating in medical procedures to which their beliefs are opposed.

The Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Act 2017 would defend healthcare workers in England and Wales from partaking in the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, IVF or similar fertility treatments, or abortion if they have a conscientious objection to doing so.

The bill, now at the committee stage in the House of Lords, was introduced by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, a peer from Northern Ireland, who believes medical professionals should not be discriminated against for their personal beliefs. . . [Full Text]

Conscientious objection is an important medical principle

Doctors are expected to have integrity. Does this not entail that they should do what they think is right?

The Spectator

Toni Saad

Something interesting is happening in the House of Lords. Baroness O’Loan’s Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill, now at the committee stage, has put on the agenda an issue which well-deserves to be there. Its point is simple: all healthcare professionals should have a legal right to opt out of certain procedures which they find objectionable. It specifies three areas: abortion provision, withdrawal of life-saving treatment, and actions relating to certain reproductive technologies.

This is not particularly radical; the 1967 Abortion Act already explicitly protects conscientious objection. Indeed, it could even be asked why this should, in a country with a tradition of liberty like ours, even be up for debate. Do we really need law to protect the right to conscience?

Sadly, it has become clear that we do. Armchair philosophers have been discussing the merits of forcing doctors and nurses to act against their conscience (or lose their jobs) over the last few years. Many papers against conscience have been published. . . [Full Text]

Why we must protect the conscience rights of medical professionals

Is it really such a radical idea to think healthcare professionals should not be forced to help in procedures to which they morally object?

Catholic Herald

Prof. Andrew Tettenborn

Just over three years ago, two devout Catholic midwives lost an important claim in the courts. Disciplined for declining to make arrangements for abortions in a Glasgow maternity ward, they sued, saying that the Abortion Act’s conscience clause allowed them to refuse to participate in the procedure. The Supreme Court, combining an impressive capacity for casuistry with a matching unconcern for moral consistency, chose to define “participation” as meaning carrying out the abortion, and nothing more. Organising, managing and aiding other people to do it was quite different; there was no right to refuse to do it.

The point matters a great deal. Many NHS hospitals now put abortion and other controversial procedures out to tender (a matter itself a cause for concern, though not here), and so organisation rather than participation is increasingly what will be demanded from often unwilling staff. . . [Full Text]

O’Loan submits Bill that would allow medics to refuse to carry out abortions

Baroness Nuala O’Loan has introduced a Parliamentary Bill which, if passed, could allow medical professionals to opt out of providing any abortion services.

Belfast Telegraph

The Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Act 2017 would also excuse medics from participating in the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.

The Private Member’s Bill would apply to all medical professionals on the registers of the General Medical Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Health and Care Professions Council and the General Pharmaceutical Council in England and Wales.

The Bill states that employers “must not discriminate against or victimise” an employee who conscientiously objects. It has passed its second reading in the House of Lords and will now proceed to the committee stage. . . [Full Text]

It is not right to force medics to act against their beliefs

A bill to cover conscientious objections in medicine would avoid losing valuable members of staff

The Times

Lord Mackay of Clashfern

A fortnight ago Baroness O’Loan’s Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Lords. It now heads to committee stage where it will be scrutinised further.

A large campaign backing the bill has argued that it is necessary to legally safeguard the conscience of all medical professionals, many of whom do not currently have clear rights guaranteed in law. The bill marks out three areas where conscience rights would receive explicit protection, namely: the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment; activity under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990; and in the context of abortion.

I spoke in support of the bill during the debate prior to the second reading, where many raised concerns about an “unreasonably broad” ability to conscientiously object to the provision of abortion. As far as I am concerned, there is a very simple analysis of this. . . [Full Text]

‘Pro-life medics must have conscientious objection rights’

The Christian Institute

A Bill designed to afford better protections for medical professionals who conscientiously object to abortion has passed its second reading in the House of Lords.

The Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill has been described as “important and timely”.

It seeks to ensure conscience objection rights for all medics and has now moved on to Committee Stage in the House of Lords. However, since it is a Private Member’s Bill, the Bill is not expected to pass. . . [Full Text]