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CW long post (original content)

The Paradox of Altruistic Gamete Donation and Surrogacy

The various forms of artificial human reproduction are, all of them, problematic; not least because they present all sorts of complex moral and legal issues. And this blog touches on such issues but, before going into the complexity, let us first have a little simplicity.

Let us, therefore, consider what appears to many to be the least problematic forms of artificial human reproduction: altruistic gamete donation and altruistic surrogacy. They are called ‘altruistic’ because they are the freely given gifts of women who seek no profit; women who simply want to do good, and who are under no pressure to do so.

Such an altruistic woman is Anne, a healthy young woman who donates eggs so that an infertile couple can have children. Let's suppose that no monetary exchange is involved, not even in the form of compensation for expenses, which is still a subtle form of exchange. Anne, remember, expects nothing in return from the couple. This is altruism, not commerce. Some people would find her action morally acceptable, even laudable; and they would see no good reason why it should not be considered perfectly legal.

Another such altruistic woman is Marie. Like Anne, Marie is a healthy young woman and absolutely altruistic. Anne acts as a surrogate mother for a couple because the woman who wants to become a mother cannot carry a pregnancy. Again, let's suppose that no monetary exchange is involved, not even in the form of compensation for expenses. Marie allows the use of her womb for mere altruism and expects nothing in return from the couple. Some people would find her action, too, to be morally acceptable; even laudable. This, too, they believe, should be perfectly legal.

Certainly, appropriate forms of regulation would be necessary in the cases of both, Anne and Marie, to anticipate and avoid possible conflicts that just might arise between the parties involved. But, in general, there are not many people who would find the actions of either Anne or Marie to be, in any way, dreadfully, seriously, problematic.

Now, let us imagine another healthy, young, and exceptionally altruistic woman, whom we shall call, for obvious reasons, Annemarie. Annemarie, in this imaginary case, both donates her eggs to, and, acts as a surrogate mother for, a particular infertile couple, the woman of which cannot carry a pregnancy. Annemarie does the same, and is the same, as Anne and Marie. The same: but, different.

Yes, here is the paradox: while some people would approve of the actions of Anne, and of Marie, the actions of Annemarie seem to them to be very different. Because very few people would consider the practice of conceiving and gestating a child with the deliberate intention to give the child away to a commissioning couple, even for purely altruistic reasons, to be either morally or legally acceptable. So, with Anne and Marie: not problematic. Yet, with Annemarie: so problematic.

What is so wrong in the case of Annemarie that is not seemingly wrong in the cases of Anne or Marie? If two actions are individually good, why are they not good when combined together?

The paradox obviously does not arise for those who do not consider gamete donation – that is the donation of either eggs or sperm - or surrogacy, (or both,) to be in any way acceptable. For others, the paradox is there.

Ova are donated with a view to generating children; and if a surrogate mother is needed to complete the process why shouldn’t she be the very same woman who donates the eggs?

Similarly, if an altruistic surrogate mother is doing something good, isn’t she doing something even better if she is also the altruistic donor? Would it be different if Annemarie donates her ova to one couple and acts as a surrogate for a different couple?

We can easily imagine all sorts of permutations and combinations of roles, genders, relationships, number of people involved, etc., between the process of gamete donation and surrogacy. We can easily imagine just how complex and problematic the whole business can become.

In the reality of the world out there, cases are usually much more complicated that those presented here in such a simplified way. But, even as we discuss clear cut simplified cases, sooner or later some contradiction appears; and it points to something seriously wrong with splitting up the normal, and naturally composite, action of becoming the mother and the father of a child.

Those who would defend altruistic gamete donation and surrogacy should, if they are being logical, also defend the practice of generating children with the purpose of donating them to couples. For that is the logic of it all. Somehow, we feel that there is more to this than cold logic; this does not feel right and proper.

And those who have no problems with some form of compensation (be it a fee, or expenses, or whatever) for gamete donation and surrogacy, should have no problem with turning the bringing of a child into this world into a commercial business.

We demand to know: Since when has treating children as commodities to be given is progress?






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Can technology built with #AI ever be safe, healthy, equitable and sustainable?

These are the types of questions we’ll be exploring in the Rethinking Power & Ethics Space at #MozFest 2022.

Check out more upcoming sessions in our Sneak Peek⤵️

bit.ly/3dKT8D9

Original tweet : twitter.com/mozillafestival/st

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CW Long posting (original content)

Ireland is experiencing a demographic catastrophe

Due mainly to Covid-19, Ireland saw a significant drop in the number of births in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period last year. At 14.6pc, it was the second biggest fall in Europe, and would have been even worse were it not for the number of non-Irish nationals having babies here. Marriages also went significantly down. We are experiencing a demographic catastrophe.

Vital statistics for the second quarter of 2021 released by the CSO last week show that 11,551 babies were born from April to June this year, whereas in the same period in 2020 there were 13,527 births. That is a drop of 1,976, the equivalent of -14.6 pc. An enormous reduction.

Those born from April to June 2021 were conceived in the second half of 2020, when Ireland was experiencing the second wave of the pandemic.

If we compare births for the first quarter (January-March) of this year with the first quarter of last year, before the pandemic got a grip on the country, there was a fall of 3.3pc, not too out of line with trend for the last few years.

This proves that conceptions dropped significantly only in the second half of last year when, after an initial period of uncertainty, people began to understand the long-term impact of Covid-19 and they planned their future life accordingly.

If we combine quarters 1 and 2, the drop of births was 8.8pc, compared to the first semester of 2020.

A similar drop has happened in other countries but not everywhere. With the exception of Moldova, Ireland has had the highest drop in Europe in 2021 so far.

Compared to the same period of the previous year, births went down in Portugal (-8.5pc)., Poland (-7.6pc), Italy (-4.4pc), England and Wales (-3.9pc). And also outside of Europe: Japan (-4.9pc), United States (-1.9pc).

But there was an increase of births in some North European countries: Finland (6.9), Norway (5.7), Netherlands (5.7), Denmark (3.1). Sweden, which had no lockdowns, also saw a 0.7pc increase.

It is worth noting that in April-June last year, 77.5pc of babies were born to women with an Irish nationality. Non-Irish nationals represent 12.9pc of the total population, but accounted for 22.5pc of births. They are having more children per head than the Irish.

Not surprisingly, the number of marriages plunged as well, but in order to understand the scale of reduction it is better to compare 2021 not with the previous year but with 2019, as in some periods of 2020 weddings were heavily restricted and so most of them were postponed.

(For a more detailed analysis of marriages in 2020 see here: gript.ie/covid-caused-a-bigger)

2,558 weddings took place in the second quarter of 2021 in Ireland. About half (50.8pc) compared to 2019 when, in the same period, 5,204 couples tied to knot. In the second quarter of 2020, there were only 303 marriages, when only six people could attend.

There were 4,823 marriages in the first half of 2021, 42.5pc fewer than 2019 when 8,389 couples married. Instead, compared to the first half of 2020, when most weddings were cancelled, this year saw a significant increase of 68.6pc.

A drop in marriages during the pandemic is a world-wide trend, with no exceptions, and it was already evident from the 2020 data but the impact of Covid-19 on births appears only in 2021, after 9 months. The change in birth rate in different countries is complex to explain but it is associated to how much and when the virus hit them. Only few, mostly Scandinavian countries, experienced a small baby-boom.

The Irish birth rate in quarter 2 of 2021 was the lowest ever since it has been recorded: 9.2 per thousand population. The total fertility rate (average number of children a woman would have in her life) for the first half of 2021 was also the lowest recorded ever: 1.4. This is way below the replacement rate.

All those figures might slightly improve in the years to come, when Covid-19 will fade away, but the current situation is dramatic. Ireland is experiencing a demographic catastrophe and there seems to be little awareness in the public opinion.

Our low fertility rate should be a cause of national debate, but mysteriously is not, despite its dire, long-term consequences.

PRESS STATEMENT: COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS PUBLISH POSITION PAPER ON PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA.

December 20, 2021.

irishpsychiatry.ie/blog/press-

College of Psychiatrists of Ireland warns against introduction of assisted dying legislation in Ireland.

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (College of Psychiatrists) has warned that *physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (PAS-E) is not compatible with good medical care* and that its introduction in Ireland could place vulnerable patients at risk.

PAS-E is also known as “assisted dying” and in the New Year the issue will be the focus of a Special Oireachtas Committee set up to examine the Dying with Dignity Bill (2020).

The College of Psychiatrists is the professional and training body for psychiatrists in Ireland and represents 1,000 professional psychiatrists (both specialists and trainees) across the country. It has today published a position paper on this issue [see editors’ note below] which sets out some key issues regarding the introduction of assisted dying in Ireland. These include:

* Assisted dying is contrary to the efforts of psychiatrists, other mental health staff and the public to prevent deaths by suicide.

* It is likely to place vulnerable people at risk – many requests for assisted dying stem from issues such as fear of being a burden or fear of death rather than from intractable pain. Improvements in existing services should be deployed to manage these issues.

* While often introduced for patients with terminal illness, once introduced assisted dying is likely to be applied more broadly to other groups, such that the numbers undertaking the procedure grow considerably above expectations;

* The introduction of assisted dying represents a radical change in Irish law and a long-standing tradition of medical practice, as exemplified in the prohibition of deliberate killing in the Irish Medical Council ethics guidelines;

Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist *Dr Eric Kelleher* is a member of the College of Psychiatrists and contributing author to the position paper on assisted dying.

Speaking today, he said: “We are acutely aware of the sensitivity of this subject, and understand and support the fact that dying with dignity is the goal of all end-of-life care. Strengthening our palliative care and social support networks makes this possible. Not only is assisted dying or euthanasia not necessary for a dignified death, but techniques used to bring about death can themselves result in considerable and protracted suffering”.“

Where assisted dying is available, many requests stem, not from intractable pain, but from such causes as fear, depression, loneliness, and the wish not to burden carers. With adequate resources, including psychiatric care, psychological care, palliative medicine, pain services, and social supports, good end-of-life care is possible,” he said.

*Dr Siobhan MacHale*, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, a member of the College of Psychiatrists and contributing author to the position paper on assisted dying, said: “Once permitted in a jurisdiction, experience has shown that more and more people die from assisted dying. This is usually the result of progressively broadening criteria through legal challenges because, if a right to assisted dying is conceded, there is no logical reason to restrict this to those with a terminal illness.”

She continued: “Both sides of this debate support the goal of dying with dignity, but neither the proposed legislation nor the status quo (as evidenced by both clinical experience and the power of this debate) is sufficient. It is imperative for the Irish people to continue to demonstrate leadership as a liberal and compassionate society in working together to achieve this.”

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland’s position paper on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is available to view in full here.

irishpsychiatry.ie/external-af

Issued on behalf of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland by Gordon MRM

Julian Fleming Phone: 0876915147
Email:julian@gordonmrm.ie

Karen McCourt, CPsychI Communications Officerkmccourt@irishpsychiatry.ie

:verified: boosted
:verified: boosted

CW Long posting (original content)

Ireland is experiencing a demographic catastrophe

Due mainly to Covid-19, Ireland saw a significant drop in the number of births in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period last year. At 14.6pc, it was the second biggest fall in Europe, and would have been even worse were it not for the number of non-Irish nationals having babies here. Marriages also went significantly down. We are experiencing a demographic catastrophe.

Vital statistics for the second quarter of 2021 released by the CSO last week show that 11,551 babies were born from April to June this year, whereas in the same period in 2020 there were 13,527 births. That is a drop of 1,976, the equivalent of -14.6 pc. An enormous reduction.

Those born from April to June 2021 were conceived in the second half of 2020, when Ireland was experiencing the second wave of the pandemic.

If we compare births for the first quarter (January-March) of this year with the first quarter of last year, before the pandemic got a grip on the country, there was a fall of 3.3pc, not too out of line with trend for the last few years.

This proves that conceptions dropped significantly only in the second half of last year when, after an initial period of uncertainty, people began to understand the long-term impact of Covid-19 and they planned their future life accordingly.

If we combine quarters 1 and 2, the drop of births was 8.8pc, compared to the first semester of 2020.

A similar drop has happened in other countries but not everywhere. With the exception of Moldova, Ireland has had the highest drop in Europe in 2021 so far.

Compared to the same period of the previous year, births went down in Portugal (-8.5pc)., Poland (-7.6pc), Italy (-4.4pc), England and Wales (-3.9pc). And also outside of Europe: Japan (-4.9pc), United States (-1.9pc).

But there was an increase of births in some North European countries: Finland (6.9), Norway (5.7), Netherlands (5.7), Denmark (3.1). Sweden, which had no lockdowns, also saw a 0.7pc increase.

It is worth noting that in April-June last year, 77.5pc of babies were born to women with an Irish nationality. Non-Irish nationals represent 12.9pc of the total population, but accounted for 22.5pc of births. They are having more children per head than the Irish.

Not surprisingly, the number of marriages plunged as well, but in order to understand the scale of reduction it is better to compare 2021 not with the previous year but with 2019, as in some periods of 2020 weddings were heavily restricted and so most of them were postponed.

(For a more detailed analysis of marriages in 2020 see here: gript.ie/covid-caused-a-bigger)

2,558 weddings took place in the second quarter of 2021 in Ireland. About half (50.8pc) compared to 2019 when, in the same period, 5,204 couples tied to knot. In the second quarter of 2020, there were only 303 marriages, when only six people could attend.

There were 4,823 marriages in the first half of 2021, 42.5pc fewer than 2019 when 8,389 couples married. Instead, compared to the first half of 2020, when most weddings were cancelled, this year saw a significant increase of 68.6pc.

A drop in marriages during the pandemic is a world-wide trend, with no exceptions, and it was already evident from the 2020 data but the impact of Covid-19 on births appears only in 2021, after 9 months. The change in birth rate in different countries is complex to explain but it is associated to how much and when the virus hit them. Only few, mostly Scandinavian countries, experienced a small baby-boom.

The Irish birth rate in quarter 2 of 2021 was the lowest ever since it has been recorded: 9.2 per thousand population. The total fertility rate (average number of children a woman would have in her life) for the first half of 2021 was also the lowest recorded ever: 1.4. This is way below the replacement rate.

All those figures might slightly improve in the years to come, when Covid-19 will fade away, but the current situation is dramatic. Ireland is experiencing a demographic catastrophe and there seems to be little awareness in the public opinion.

Our low fertility rate should be a cause of national debate, but mysteriously is not, despite its dire, long-term consequences.

:verified: boosted

One week with blocking all #google domains in my #pihole and it’s so nice. To watch #YouTube videos in high definition, I’m using #RSS to check new videos of channels I follow from Invidious and I use yt-dlp (fork of youtube-dl) to download them with #proxychains connected through #tor network. Thanks to @RTP to show proxychains in his videos, I’m loving it 🥰. I know I could use Tor browser to watch, but invidious only give 720p and the buffering is high, so I just download and watch them later.

:verified: boosted

Hello Fediverse! I’ve had several people express interest in #Kiva after I posted about it recently. This inspired me to create a Fediverse Kiva team.

If you don’t know what Kiva is: it’s a philanthropic micro-lending organization that matches people who need small loans (typically a few hundred to a few thousand dollars) with people who are willing to lend. When a loan is repaid, those funds become available for you to lend again (or cash-out if you choose) thus multiplying your impact!

It’s a really neat program, I highly encourage people to check out (https://www.kiva.org), and if you do decide to sign up, join the Fediverse team to show solidarity with your fellow Fedi givers:

https://www.kiva.org/invitedto/fediverse/by/anonym00se

#GivingTuesday is coming up on December 1st. If 10 new people from the Fediverse join the Kiva Fediverse team by December 1st, I will fund 10 $25 loan credits for the people who signed up! If more than 10 people join the team, I will pick 10 team members at random to receive the $25 credits.

If you have questions about Kiva before signing up, I will do my best to answer them.

Shares and boosts appreciated.

@Laconicif @cjd @feld @christian_zerfass @TesserAches @icedquinn

:verified: boosted

Towns with exclamation marks in their name!
by maps.interlude at instagram

:verified: boosted

FOSS visual novel "Ekindle" has been released with a day 1 Linux version; is free of charge; is made using the open source Ren'Py engine and has the source code available that is licensed with GPLv3.

metasepia.itch.io/enkindle

#fossgaming #renpy #itchio #drmfree

New genetic selection techniques will facilitate eugenics

The genetic selection of human embryos is reaching new levels of sophistication and depravity with the development of a technique called ‘polygenic screening’, based on statistical scores. Eugenics, which is breeding out the ‘defective’, is deepening its grip on our societies.

The new method is a step above current screening processes that can detect conditions like Down Syndrome.

Last year, the embryo of baby girl Aurea was chosen over other embryos who had more chance of developing certain medical conditions in the future, using a “polygenic risk score”.

The screening of human embryos artificially created in laboratory through IVF is quite common.

Tests are offered for genetic or chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome, and only the unaffected embryos are implanted in the womb, while the other are destroyed.

When similar screening tests are performed during pregnancies, they generally lead to abortion.

This is a clear form of human selection on the basis of health characteristics, also known as eugenics.

So far, those tests were focusing on diseases caused by a single gene, but some conditions are triggered by the interaction of many genes.

A new technique based on “polygenic risk scores” (PRS), which has been employed for the first time with success, tests the presence of many genes.

In simple words, the new test analyses the gene-sequency of an individual and estimates the probability that some conditions will develop later in life.

As the link between some genes and certain medical conditions is only probabilistic, these new techniques are based on statistical data and they have only become possible in very recent years with the development of large databases of genetic information.

As it develops, preimplantation genetic testing is likely to be able to predict not only health, but also other characteristics related to our genes, such as intelligence, psychological traits, personality types, learning disabilities, height, etc.

Commissioning couples, but also single individuals, will be able to pick any physical or psychological trait linked to genetic and to ‘order’ their ideal child. In a society where choice is everything, who will stop them?

This is one further step down an extremely unethical path that aims at eliminating imperfect human beings. It is immoral not only because it destroys humans at embryonic stage, but also because it perpetuates the false assumption that some lives are not worth living when they have certain unwanted characteristics.

The defenders of these techniques are quite honest about the eugenicist nature of genetic selection.

Oxford university philosopher Julian Savulescu proposes a “welfarist model” of polygenic scores that select for traits associated with well-being.

He writes: “[Tests] to select against genetic conditions … such as Down Syndrome, are common and are even publicly funded, implying not only assent, but active support for allowing prospective parents to select against these conditions. Selection on the basis of polygenetic scores, if it is well correlated and causally linked to a welfare threshold with important bearing on the future’s child well-being is ethically equivalent to these. Indeed, allowing selection on the basis of only some genetic conditions may be discriminatory. It would be consistent with an anti-eugenic stance to reject all form of selection.”

Savulescu has no problem with eugenics, as long as “there is no broad social goal or coercion employed”.

Do we really need to wait until it becomes imposed by the state before we realise how immoral eugenic?

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