DiversityNursing Blog

UK Lawmakers Approve '3-parent babies' Law

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 04, 2015 @ 11:47 AM

By Laura Smith-Spark

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Lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of a law that sets the stage for the United Kingdom to be the first country in the world to allow a pioneering in vitro fertilization technique using DNA from three people.

The technique could prevent mitochondrial diseases but also raises significant ethical issues.

The measure was passed in the House of Commons, 382 to 128, Speaker John Bercow said.

A further vote must be held in the UK's upper house, the House of Lords, before the measure can become law.

Passage of the law is opposed by Catholic and Anglican church leaders, in part because the process involves the destruction of an embryo.

One in 6,500 babies in the United Kingdom are thought to develop a serious mitochondrial disorder, which can lead to health issues such as heart and liver disease, respiratory problems, blindness and muscular dystrophy.

Problems with mitochondria, the "powerhouse" cells of the body, are inherited from the mother, so the proposed IVF treatment would mean an affected woman could have a baby without passing on mitochondrial disease.

But the cutting-edge IVF technique, which involves transferring nuclear genetic material from a mother's egg or embryo into a donor egg or embryo that's had its nuclear DNA removed, raises ethical questions.

The new embryo will contain nuclear DNA from the intended father and mother, as well as healthy mitochondrial DNA from the donor embryo -- effectively creating a "three-parent" baby.

The amount of donor DNA in the mitochondria will, however, be much less than the parental DNA in the nucleus, which determines the baby's characteristics.

 

Called an ethical watershed

 

The Church of England's national adviser on medical issues, the Rev. Dr. Brendan McCarthy, described the step as representing an ethical watershed and said more research and wider debate were needed.

"We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement," he said.

"Our view, however, remains that we believe that the law should not be changed until there has been further scientific study and informed debate into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondrial replacement therapy."

Bishop John Sherrington, in a statement posted online by the Catholic Church in England and Wales, urged lawmakers not to rush into taking such a serious step.

"It seems extraordinary that a licence should be sought for a radical new technique affecting future generations without first conducting a clinical trial," he said. "There are also serious ethical objections to this procedure which involves the destruction of human embryos as part of the process."

The California-based Center for Genetics and Society, in an open letter to UK lawmakers last month, said that although the proposed goal was noble, "the techniques will in fact put women and children at risk for severe complications, divert resources from promising alternatives and treatments, and set a policy precedent that experimentation on future generations is an acceptable biomedical/fertility development."

 

Incurable diseases

 

A team at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, led by professor Doug Turnbull and based at Newcastle University in northern England, has been leading the research into the pioneering IVF technique.

The center points out that mitochondrial diseases cannot be cured and that in many families, several people are affected.

A Wellcome Trust fact sheet states that "nuclear DNA is not altered, and so mitochondrial donation will not affect the child's appearance, personality or any other features that make a person unique -- it will simply allow the mitochondria to function normally and the child to be free of mitochondrial DNA disease.

"The healthy mitochondria will also be passed on to any children of women born using the technique."

According to the latest estimates from the research team, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, almost 2,500 women of childbearing age in the UK are at risk of transmitting mitochondrial disease to their children, while in the United States, the number is more than 12,400.

This equates to an average of 152 births per year in the UK, and 778 births per year in the United States, the team said. 

In a Newcastle University news release, Turnbull said his team's findings had considerable implications for other countries considering the technique. Allowing it would give "women who carry these mutations greater reproductive choice," he said.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: laws, ethical, parents, birth, lawmakers, 3 parent babies, DNA, embryo, health issues, IVF, health, healthcare, disease, babies

California Lawmakers Want to Raise Smoking Age Limit

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 02, 2015 @ 11:43 AM

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Should the legal age for smoking be raised from 18 to 21? That’s the question being pondered by lawmakers in California, where a growing contingent of health advocates are seeking to make their state’s minimum smoking age the highest in the United States.

Known as Bill 151, the legislation, which was proposed by Democrat Senator Ed Hernandez last Thursday, is designed to limit tobacco smoking among young people. Hernandez says it’s about preventing people from becoming addicted to cigarettes when they’re most vulnerable.

“Tobacco companies are aware that people tend to become addicted to smoking if they start it at young age,” Hernandez said. “Senate Bill 151 proposes to increase the legitimate smoking age in California from 18 to 21 years in an offer to restrain tobacco smoking in children and teenagers.”

Hernandez has evidence to support his cause. According to the American Lung Association, nine in ten smokers take up the habit right around the time they reach age eighteen. Overall, it’s estimated that about 36,000 California children begin smoking each year.

Hernandez says it’s time to take a tougher approach when it comes to preventing young people from smoking. “We can no more bear to sit on the sidelines while huge tobacco markets to our children and gets another era of youngsters snared on an item that will at last kill them,” Hernandez said.

California is not the first state to make this venture. Utah, New Jersey, Maryland, and Colorado have all tried to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, with every attempt ending in failure.

Source: www.activebeat.com

Topics: age, laws, government, California, smoking, cigarettes, tobacco, health, health care

Comprehensive Review Of Laws And Regulations Affecting Advanced Nursing Practice In Every State

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Tue, Feb 05, 2013 @ 02:03 PM

The most comprehensive review of new legal and regulatory issues affecting advanced nursing practice across the United States is now available in the "25th Annual Legislative Update," presented exclusively by The Nurse Practitioner: The American Journal of Primary Healthcare.The Nurse Practitioner is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health. 

Compiled by Susanne J. Phillips, MSN, FNP-BC, the annual supplement presents a comprehensive review of the legislative proceedings, bills, and laws pertaining to advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) practice in every state. The 25th Annual Legislative Update is now freely available on the journal website. 

Progress in Evidence-Based Reforms Improving Access to APRN Care 

The 25th Annual Legislative Update incorporates current information provided by state nursing boards and APRN associations about the "hot topics" affecting APRN practice in their states. "Despite attempts by medical boards to limit current practice authority, APRNs succeeded in improving access to APRN care in several states," writes Phillips. 

The special edition provides an essential update on recent legislative and regulatory activity promoting access to APRN care, prompted by decades of peer-reviewed research demonstrating the quality and safety of APRN practice. Efforts are ongoing to standardize laws and regulations governing APRN practice across states, and to establish effective consumer protections. 

Yet legislation continues to be "vehemently opposed" in many states, according to Phillips. She discusses steps APRNs can take to "empower legislators to move beyond the outdated, evidence-lacking arguments that APRNs are not educated enough, safe enough, or credentialed enough to care for the nation's residents." 

This year's update presents a rundown of the latest developments in the areas of legal authority, reimbursement, and prescriptive authority for all 50 states. It also includes a table summarizing practice authority for nurse practitioners in every state and the District of Columbia, along with updated statistics and the total number of APRNs reported by state boards of nursing. 

Nurses Encouraged to Work Together to Meet Challenges 

The past year has seen several important improvements in legal authorization of APRN practice, including passage of legislation and promulgation of regulations in 17 states. In addition, eight states reported statutory or regulatory activity leading to improvements in prescriptive authority. 

But challenges remain, including reports of defeated bills and unsuccessful regulatory reform efforts in five states. In addition, two states - Kentucky and Missouri - passed legislation limiting APRN practice in specific ways. Phillips urges APRNs and others interested in ensuring access to evidence-based healthcare to support state APRN organizations. 

Nurses are also encouraged to check out the Future of Nursing Campaign for Action, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP, to see what steps are being taken and participate in efforts to improve nursing practice. Phillips adds, "This is a great way for all of the APRN organizations to work together to implement the recommendations and improve practice in your state."

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.

Topics: laws, United States, challenges, regulations, APRN care, reform

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