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Archive for the ‘2012’ Category

HFEA consultation on mitochondrial replacement

In 2012, Genetics, Reproduction on December 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm

The HFEA’s consultation on mitochondrial replacement was launched in September 2012, to consider the social and ethical issues arising from these techniques. The Oversight Group’s terms of reference can be found here, and the members are listed here. HEAL responded to the consultation (which closed last week). Our full response can be read here: HFEA mtDNA 2012 HEAL consultation response.

Our closing remarks cautioned that:
“Assuming either technique is to be permitted for human use it is vital that appropriate follow-up studies should be undertaken (and financial resources made available to support the research) to measure the levels of both short and long-term risks, not only to the offspring, but where relevant, to future generations, following mitochondrial replacement. Without such research there will be insufficient data for prospective patients to assess the levels of potential risk vs their desire for a child that is genetically related to them.”

We look forward to reading the outcome of the consultation in 2013. Previous blog posts on this area can be found here, here and (more tangentially) here.

Today’s HEAL meeting: David Gurnham

In 2012, Meetings on December 12, 2012 at 7:52 am

A reminder for today’s joint HEAL/Law School staff seminar with David Gurnham speaking on ‘The criminalisation of HIV and sexual offences: natural bedfellows?’, 1-2pm 2055/4 (Law), Highfield.

John Coggon on Elective Ventilation for Organ Donation: Law, Policy, and Public Ethics

In 2012, Human tissue on December 5, 2012 at 7:59 am

Our most recent HEAL event was a fascinating seminar with John Coggon speaking on Elective Ventilation for Organ Donation: Law, Policy, and Public Ethics. His paper drew on an article accepted by the Journal of Medical Ethics (forthcoming); abstract kindly provided below.

 

Abstract This paper examines questions concerning elective ventilation, contextualised within English law and policy. It presents the general debate with reference both to the Exeter Protocol on elective ventilation, and the considerable developments in legal principle since the time that that protocol was declared to be unlawful. I distinguish different aspects of what might be labelled elective ventilation policies under the following four headings: ‘basic elective ventilation’; ‘epistemically complex elective ventilation’; ‘practically complex elective ventilation’; and ‘epistemically and practically complex elective ventilation’. I give a legal analysis of each. In concluding remarks on their potential practical viability, I emphasise the importance not just of ascertaining the legal and ethical acceptability of these and other forms of elective ventilation, but also of assessing their professional and political acceptability. This importance relates both to the successful implementation of the individual practices, and to guarding against possible harmful effects in the wider efforts to increase the rates of posthumous organ donation.

Today’s HEAL meeting: John Coggon

In 2012, Meetings on November 22, 2012 at 10:36 am

Today at 3pm, Thursday 22 November, John Coggon will see speaking on ‘Elective Ventilation for Organ Donation’, in room 2055/4(Law). All welcome.

Choice at the end of life?

In 2012, Death and dying, Meetings on November 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm

On 23 October 2012 HEAL members met to discuss the All Party Parliamentary Group on Choice at the End of Life/Dignity in Dying consultation. This lively and informative discussion was followed up yesterday with an impromptu ‘meeting’ to finalise our response prior to submission. Sarah Wootton and Heidi Alexander made clear in their joint Foreword the purpose of the consultation, thus:

[Their]Our consultation seeks the input of experts, stakeholders and the public on how the proposals would work in practice and what would constitute adequate safeguards. The Bill is a draft and will be reviewed and revised in light of the responses we receive to this consultation. The APPG on Choice at the End of Life and Dignity in Dying are committed to promoting greater patient choice at the end of life, particularly over where, when and how one dies. We want to work with others to ensure not only that patients at the end of life have choice and control, but also, crucially, to ensure that the safeguards work well in practice.

HEAL has responded following our discussions – as one might expect there was some agreement with the proposals, and other areas raised greater concerns. Our full response can be accessed here (scroll down to p27).

Injecting contraception in schools?

In 2012, News, Reproduction, Testing project on November 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

This is a guest post by Emma Nottingham.

The Daily Telegraph has conducted a survey which revealed that contraceptive injections are being offered in a range of schools across the UK in including Bristol, Northumbria, Peterborough, CountyDurham, the West Midlands and Berkshire. The front page story has expressed concern that school girls as young as thirteen are being given the contraceptive injection at school, without their parents’ knowledge. Statistics revealed that school nurses have given the contraceptive jab or implant to girls between the ages of 13 and 16 more than 900 times in the last two years. The medical profession, including school nurses are bound by rules on confidentiality.

Outrage was expressed by parents in Southampton earlier this year after finding out that children were being given the contraceptive implant in schools without their consent, as part of a wider government initiative to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. The contraceptive implant works to prevent pregnancy by releasing the hormone progesterone into the bloodstream from a 4cm rod which is inserted into the arm and is effective for up to three years. The contraceptive injection is effective for three months.

The issue of under-16 year olds’ competency to consent to contraceptive advice and treatment without parental consent was settled in the case of Gillick v Wisbech and West Norfolk Health Authority and another [1985] 3 All ER 402, after Victoria Gillick took legal action against the Department of Health and Social Security in response to their 1980 circular on family planning which endorsed confidential contraceptive advice and treatment for under-16 year olds.

Despite the legal settlement of this issue 27 years ago, under-16 year olds’ access to contraceptive treatment without parental consent remains controversial, particularly in light of the advancement in medical technology which offers a wider variety of treatments to females, such as the implant and contraceptive injection, which were not available at the time of Gillick.

 

Today’s HEAL meeting : discussing choice at the end of life

In 2012, Death and dying on October 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm

The next HEAL event will be on Tuesday 23 October from 4.30pm in rm 2055/building 4 (Law), led by Hazel Biggs, on the Safeguarding Choice consultation http://www.appg-endoflifechoice.org.uk/pdf/appg-safeguarding-choice.pdf. The consultation – which closes on 20 Nov – is being run by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Choice at the End of Life in partnership with Dignity in Dying, and includes a draft Bill (‘applying’ only to England and Wales).

NHS Rationing: Introducing a new blog

In 2012, NHS on October 8, 2012 at 6:45 am

No, not a new blog by us, but a site devised & maintained by David Lock QC, a barrister at No 5 Chambers, who specialises in Health Care Law. David’s aim is to ‘seek to explain the reality of NHS Rationing and Post Code Prescribing within the NHS’. Just to be clear, the site is ‘independent of the NHS or any firm of solicitors’.

Initial posts include a guide to Individual Funding Requests, possible legal issues raised by post-code variations in the provision of IVF:  ‘IVF postcode lottery’ and of course David’s welcome post. There is a section dedicated to relevant case studies,  on how to challenge treatment decisions, and how to get the best use of the site.

We wish David the very best on his entry into the blogosphere!

‘All right thinking people?’: Hidden law making and faith

In 2012, Reproduction, Testing project on October 1, 2012 at 11:40 am

Sarah Catt’s case has attracted huge media interest, following her eight-year imprisonment for taking Misoprostol to bring about a miscarriage a week before full-term. She will be in cusody for four years and on licence for a further four years. See, for example, coverage in The Telegraph, the Guardian –  and again – and the latest related story was in the Sunday Times with pharmacists allegedly selling Misoprostol over the counter. There are numerous blog posts, eg Barbara Hewson’s Spiked post in which she argues against any conviction, and Karen Gardiner’s post on the importance of women’s access to services; and – in the interests of balance – also coverage in the Catholic Herald, where there was a call for the judge’s sentiments to be extended to all foetuses and not only ‘healthy’ ones (c/f s.1(1)(d) Abortion Act 1967).

What does this have to do with hidden law-making?

In his sentencing remarks Mr Justice Cooke commented:

[15]. There is no mitigation available by reference to the Abortion Act, whatever view one takes of its provisions which are, wrongly, liberally construed in practice so as to make abortion available essentially on demand prior to 24 weeks with the approval of registered medical practitioners. What you have done is to rob an apparently healthy child en ventre sa mere, vulnerable and defenceless, of the life which he was about to commence. You are not charged with murder and I would be wrong to treat it as such as matter of law. …

[16]. In English Law, none of those offences could be committed in respect of an unborn child, but the gravamen of this offence is that, at whatever stage life can be said to begin, the child in the womb here was so near to birth that in my judgement all right thinking people would consider this offence more serious than manslaughter or any offence on the calendar other than murder.

The tenor of his comments raised a few eyebrows, and media reporters quickly uncovered Justice Cooke’s strong links with the Lawyers Christian Fellowship – a group which has previously campaigned to change abortion law (at the time of writing none of their public policy material was available on their website, www.lawcf.org). Writing for the Guardian, Amanda Bancroft posited the question thus: ‘When one reads the remarks of the judge knowing his belief system, one can only ask: did the judge view this case only on the context of the crime she actually committed, or also in the context of a crime against a god which may not be hers?’  Interesting to note some of the ‘behind the scenes’ influences in the administration of justice.

HEAL Workshop 2012: Hidden Lawmakers in Health Care Law

In 2012, Meetings, Testing project on September 17, 2012 at 5:00 am

Today and tomorrow (17-18 Sept) we are hosting the second HEAL workshop on Hidden Lawmakers in Health Care Law. Previous posts on this research project can be found here and here.

Health Care Law is a relatively new legal discipline that until recently has been developed significantly through litigation. In recent years it has become apparent that the process by which cases come to be litigated may be less haphazard than at first appears. We are seeking to instigate discussion and further investigation of the role of such ‘test’ cases in developing the substance of Health Care Law.

Drawing on contributions to a two day seminar in 2011, funded by the Modern Law Review, a number of different categories of hidden lawmakers have been identified. This seminar seeks to take that work further in relation to a category of hidden lawmakers that emerged from the seminar and related discussions as requiring further study and consideration. It concerns those who intervene in matters that have come before the courts, to seek to influence the outcomes of the cases. It will bring together a group of invited participants including academics, clinical and legal practitioners, members of interest groups, and participants in influential cases to discuss and debate key aspects of the litigation process, and provide a sounding board for further exploration. The seminar will involve presentations by key participants combined with round table debates and discussions, both formal and informal, amongst the delegates.

Speakers include: Ann Furedi, BPAS; Josephine Quintavalle, CORE; David Lock, QC, No5 Chambers; Prof Rachael Mulheron, Queen Mary, University of London; Prof Laurence Lustgarten, Visiting Fellow, ELAC, University of Oxford and Prof Jonathan Montgomery, University of Southampton. Further details can be found here.