Refusal of organ donation is common, and becoming more frequent. In Australia refusal by families occurred in 56% of cases in 1995 in New South Wales, and had risen to 82% in 1999, becoming the most important determinant of the country's very low organ donation rate .Leading causes of refusal, identified in many studies, include the lack of understanding by families of brain death and its implications, and subsequent reluctance to relegate the body to purely instrumental status. It is an (...) interesting paradox that surveys of the public continue to show considerable support for organ donation programmes—in theory we will, in practice we won't .In this paper we propose that the Australian community may, for good reason, distrust the concept of and criteria for “whole brain death”, and the equation of this new concept with death of the human being. We suggest that irreversible loss of circulation should be reinstated as the major defining characteristic of death, but that brain-dead, heart-beating entities remain suitable organ donors despite being alive by this criterion. This presents a major challenge to the “dead donor rule”, and would require review of current transplantation legislation. Brain dead entities are suitable donors because of irreversible loss of personhood, accurately and robustly defined by the current brain stem criteria."Even the dead are not terminally ill any more.". (shrink)
At 2.00 am on the morning of May 24, 1995 the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Australia passed the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act by the narrow margin of 15 votes to 10. The act permits a terminally ill patient of sound mind and over the age of 18 years, and who is either in pain or suffering, or distress, to request a medical practitioner to assist the patient to terminate his or her life. Thus, Australia can lay claim to (...) being the first country in the world to legalise voluntary active euthanasia. The Northern Territory's act has prompted Australia-wide community reaction, particularly in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory where proposals to legalise euthanasia have already been defeated on the floor of parliament. In New South Wales (NSW) the AIDS Council of NSW has prepared draft euthanasia legislation to be introduced into the Upper House as a Private Member's Bill some time in 1996. In this paper, we focus on a brief description of events as they occurred and on the arguments for and against the legalisation of euthanasia which have appeared in the media. (shrink)
The success of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) worldwide has led to an accumulation of frozen embryos that are surplus to the reproductive needs of those for whom they were created. In these situations, couples must decide whether to discard them or donate them for scientific research or for use by other infertile couples. While legislation and regulation may limit the decisions that couples make, their decisions are often shaped by their religious beliefs. Unfortunately, health professionals, scientists and policy-makers are often (...) unaware of the way in which faith traditions view ART and decisions concerning the ‘fate’ of surplus embryos. In this paper scholars representing six major religious traditions provide a commentary on a hypothetical case concerning the donation or destruction of excess ART embryos. These commentaries provide a rich account of religious perspectives on the status of the human embryo and an insight into the relevance of faith to health and policy decisions, particularly in reproductive medicine, ART and embryo research. (shrink)
Ethical reasoning and decision-making may be thought of as 'professional skills', and in this sense are as relevant to efficient clinical practice as the biomedical and clinical sciences are to the diagnosis of a patient's problem. Despite this, however, undergraduate medical programmes in ethics tend to focus on the teaching of bioethical theories, concepts and/or prominent ethical issues such as IVF and euthanasia, rather than the use of such ethics knowledge (theories, principles, concepts, rules) to clinical practice. Not surprisingly, many (...) students and clinicians experience considerable difficulty in using what they know about ethics to help them make competent ethical decisions in their day-to-day clinical practice. This paper describes the development of a seminar programme for teaching senior medical students a more systematic approach to ethical reasoning and analysis and clinical decision-making. (shrink)
Several decades of research converge on the formulation that individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder exhibit negative biases in their processing of emotional information. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that traditional between-group comparisons have obscured the substantial heterogeneity of cognitive and affective dysfunction that is associated with depressive symptomatology. In this article, we review the findings of research examining attention to and memory for negative emotional information using a more dimensional perspective on depression. Specifically, we explore studies that assess (...) cognitive biases along a continuum of depressive symptom severity and consider the influence of co-occurring dimensions of functioning, in particular the severity of anxiety symptoms. Finally, we identify critical empirical questions and issues in this growing literature. (shrink)
Why do we persist in the relentless pursuit of artificial nourishment and other treatments to maintain a permanently unconscious existence? In facing the future, if not the present world-wide reality of a huge number of persistent vegetative state (PVS) patients, will they be treated because of our ethical commitment to their humanity, or because of an ethical paralysis in the face of biotechnical progress? The PVS patient is cut off from the normal patterns of human connection and communication, with a (...) life unlike other forms of human existence. Why the struggle to justify ending a life which, it is said, has suffered an irreversible loss of the content of consciousness? Elsewhere, the authors have addressed the ethical controversies and confusion engendered by ambiguous terminology, misuse of medical facts and the differing interpretations of what constitutes 'effective' treatment: in particular, the issue of whether in fact artificial nutrition and hydration is a medical treatment, or simply part of the obligatory care owed to all patients, permanently unconscious or not. In this paper, we intend to argue that recent analyses of medical futility, its meaning and ethical implications, despite an absence of public consensus, permit some tentative re-evaluation of our ethical obligations to the PVS patient. (shrink)
The vacuum structure for the massive charged scalar field in the region of two parallel, infinitely long and thin solenoids confining the fluxesn 1 andn 2 is studied. By using the Green function method, it is found that the vacuum expectation value of the system's energy has a finite mutual interaction term depending on the distance a between the solenoids, which implies an attractive force per unit length given by F n1n2 =−(ℏc/π2)(n 1 n 2)2/a 3.