As concern mounts about the spread of the Zika virus, groups around the world are suggesting radical measures for North and South America.
Perhaps the most extreme response has been from abortion activist Rebecca Gomperts, the founder and director of Women on Web. Gomperts’ organisation is offering women infected with Zika free abortion pills, apparently to halt the rush toward unsafe termination of pregnancy.
“The Zika virus is now spreading to most of the countries where abortion is very restricted,” Gomperts told AFP.
“We really care about women's health and lives and we want to make sure that women have access to a good medical abortion.”
Zika is thought to cause a rare birth defect in babies known as anencephaly WHICH IS???, though the link is yet to be scientifically proven.
Abortion is illegal in Brazil save a few exceptions, and government authorities intercept abortifacients being shipped into the country. Gomperts is calling on the government to halt the ban “at least for the duration of the Zika epidemic”.
Elsewhere, Oxford bioethicist Dominic Wilkinson argued that Latin American and Caribbean nations should invest in birth control to prevent cases of microcephaly. In an article in the Conversation, Wilkinson suggested that birth control -- though having limited efficacy due to the predominance of unwanted pregnancies -- would at least stop a good proportion of pregnancies among women carrying the Zika virus:
“If and when, international funds become available in response to the Zika epidemic, there should be a significant investment in birth control in Latin America. Governments in these regions should take seriously the need to address and remove barriers to contraception.”
I’m sure it’s just randomness and not something in the water, but often our newsletters seem devoted to a theme, be it euthanasia, or IVF, or stem cell research. This time, unfortunately, it’s skulduggery.
Below you can read about a Los Angeles doctor who has just been sentenced to 30 years in jail for prescribing powerful pain-killer to drug addicts, some of whom ended up dead. Then there’s another euthanasia scandal in Belgium in which a 37-year-old woman died at the hands of an incompetent doctorafter being diagnosed with autism. (Autism? Are you kidding?)
The most colourful, however, is the on-going controversy surrounding trachea surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who made headlines for creating artificial windpipes with stem cells. It turns out that his research, his CV and his romantic life all involve a fair bit of unsubstantiated creativity. Some of his patients died, too.
No surprises here. Human nature being what it is, there are bound to be a few bad apples in the medical barrel.
But it should lead us to reflect that governments need to take the possibility of misconduct very seriously when they are crafting legislation for the new genetic technologies. An English academic recently wrote in The Guardian that “playing God with our genes … is a good thing because God, nature or whatever we want to call the agencies that have made us, often get it wrong and it’s up to us to correct those mistakes.”
But if it is people like the doctors above who are playing God, it’s very likely that they will make irreparable mistakes. If scientists want to sack God, they should think very carefully about the CVs of the persons who will be moving into his office.
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