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cmf file 53 (2014) - depression and cognitive behavioural therapy

At any one time, one in six people in the UK struggle with a mental health problem, and one in four will be unwell over the course of a year. (1) Overall, around one in three GP consultations involves mental health problems in some way. (2) Depression is the most common of these, with between 8%...
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cmf file 52 (2013) - cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery is big business - The saying goes that no one ever lost money by over estimating women's vanity. The same could probably be said of men. In 2011, the UK cosmetics product industry was valued at £8.3 billion. (3) Cosmetic interventions are also a booming business, worth £2.3 billion...
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cmf file 51 (2013) - three-parent embryos for mitochondrial disorders

New 'three-parent' IVF techniques have been developed which researchers claim could enable women to avoid passing mitochondrial diseases on to their children. Mitochondrial disease is unusual in that it is transmitted through DNA in the mitochondria (cell 'powerhouses') in the cell cytoplasm rather...
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cmf file 50 (2013) - care and compassion

The overwhelming professional, political and popular consensus is that compassion is an essential part of nursing and medical care (5) (6) and the general public and media are understandably outraged at perceived failures to care compassionately. But it is harder to define what we really mean by...
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cmf file 49 - emerging medical technologies: ethical issues

By John Wyatt and Philippa Taylor . John Wyatt is Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics at University College, London. Philippa Taylor is CMF Head of Public Policy Oscar Pistorius made history at the London 2012 Olympic Games by becoming the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied...
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cmf file 48 (2012) - brain death

Brain death - 'Death hath ten thousand several doors for men to take their exits' but there can be little argument about the importance of making sure the door is forever firmly shut behind them, before declaring any individual dead. (1) Only after confirmation of his or her death can a medical...
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cmf file 47 (2012) - surrogacy

'Google Baby' - The global business: A Channel 4 documentary in 2011, 'Google Baby', followed an Israeli entrepreneur's new fertility service. His customers select their preferred sperm and eggs online. He then ships the frozen embryos to India to be implanted in the wombs of local surrogates....
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cmf file 46 (2011) - regarding the image

Over the past fifty years there has been an explosion of ethical challenges facing doctors and other healthcare professionals. Ranging from abortion to euthanasia, via human enhancement technologies, many of the arguments Christians put forward in debate revolve around the principle of the sanctity...
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cmf file 45 (2011) - maternal & newborn health in the developing world

In many developed nations, pregnancy and childbirth are no longer widely considered hazardous for mother or infant in the way they were just a few generations ago. However, for the majority of the world's population this is not the case. Poverty, social attitudes and family structures, and a lack...
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cmf file 44 (2011) - health benefits of Christian faith

Is there a link between faith and health? - Evidence from over 1,200 studies and 400 reviews has shown an association between faith and a number of positive health benefits, including protection from illness, coping with illness, and faster recovery from it. Of the studies reviewed in the...
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cmf file 43 (2010) - rationing of healthcare

In 2002 CMF File 17 considered Resource allocation from a Christian philosophical and ethical perspective. The societal debate about rationing is now more intense,and a clinician who sits on a NICE technology appraisal committee revisits it. Demand for healthcare outstrips the resources available,...
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cmf file 42 (2010) - Christians and medical research

Research is central to the safe and effective practice of medicine. Developments in molecular biology over the past 50 years have affected our understanding of normal human biology and pathophysiology, and new drug development is now often targeted against specific molecular receptors and...
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cmf file 41 (2010) - climate change

In the year 2000 alone, climate change is estimated to have caused the loss of over 150,000 lives. (1) Since the industrial revolution began more than 200 years ago, the average global surface temperature has risen by 0.76°C. This warming is leading to disrupted seasonal weather patterns and an...
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cmf file 40 (2009) - the doctor's worldview

By John Wyatt Worldviews are the understandings each one of us has about the way the universe is. All our thoughts, beliefs and actions are based on these fundamental presuppositions abou treality, and they are therefore critical in medical ethics. Different worldviews will sometimes lead to...
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cmf file 39 (2009) - the doctor's conscience

The right of conscientious objection is enshrined in medical law. For example the 1967 Abortion Act states that, '…no person shall be under any duty, whether by contract or by any statutory or other legal requirement, to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a...
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cmf file 38 (2009) - the family & bioethics

The philosopher Brenda Almond opens her book The Fragmenting Family with: 'What is the family? There are many ways of answering this question, but I take as my starting point here G K Chesterton's striking metaphor of family as “this frail cord, flung from the forgotten hills of yesterday to the...
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cmf file 37 (2008) - teenage sex

Sex is one of the most important aspects of teenage life. Though sexuality is about far more than physical expressions of sex, there is no doubt that first intercourse is an important milestone in most people's lives. As Professor Peter Borriello of the UK Health Protection Agency remarks: 'It's...
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cmf file 36 (2008) - organ transplantation

Organ transplantation has developed from a highly innovative procedure to routine clinical practice. Successful kidney transplantation started in the 1950s followed by heart, liver and pancreas transplants in the 1960s, and lung and small bowel transplants in the 1980s. Outcomes have steadily...
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cmf file 35 (2007) - consequences of abortion

In 2003 we considered abortion in CMF File 23 , but we concentrate here on the consequences of abortion. It is timely to review these. First, the total number of abortions in the UK continues to rise, reaching the highest level ever in 2006 at 201,173 in England and Wales and a further 13,081 in...
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cmf file 34 (2007) - chimeras, hybrids and 'cybrids'

Early in 2007 a parliamentary committee met to discuss the technological and ethical issues surrounding any possible mixing together of human and animal species. They sat as a response to proposed legislation which, if enacted, would have banned such work. After effective lobbying from scientists...
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cmf file 33 (2006) - world population: challenge or crisis?

Each year the human population increases by 79 million people - around 58 million people die, but 137 million babies are born. If we plan to house, feed and provide infrastructure for these people, we currently need to build the equivalent of a new city the size of Birmingham or San Francisco every...
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cmf file 32 (2006) - human suffering: Biblical perspectives

A woman lies in a hospital bed. The cancer that started in her breast has spread. Her vertebrae and bones are now riddled with disease and she requires high doses of pain killing drugs to numb her senses. Her threeyear- old daughter stands silently, gently holding Mummy's hand – confused about why...
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cmf file 31 (2006) - transhumanism

All human enhancement technologies, start from the premise that we can overcome present limitations. A consistent desire is to develop anti-ageing technologies. Transhumanists take the idea a step further with the aim of engineering a 'better' human being. This could be via genetic enhancement or...
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cmf file 30 (2005) - quality of life

The idea that physicians should be responsible for assessing or measuring a patient's quality of life (QoL) has obvious attractions. It seems right that doctors should not just strive to prolong life ( quantity of life), but should ensure that the life that is prolonged meets certain criteria (its...
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cmf file 29 (2005) - autonomy - who chooses?

For many people the right to do what they wish with their bodies, for whatever reason, is paramount. Autonomy is central to arguments used in favour of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Such bids for self-determination are also found in debates around abortion and reproductive ethics, and are the...
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cmf file 28 (2005) - saviour siblings

In 1990, Winston and Handyside reported the first successful preg-nancies where the genetic status of the embryo had been ascertained before it was transferred to the mother's uterus.[1] The family had an X-linked mental disorder and 50% of male children would be affected. Doctors therefore placed...
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cmf file 27 (2004) - neonatal ethics

Thirty years ago less than 20% of babies born before 28 weeks of gestation survived. But over the last 30 years advances in medical care at the beginning of life have transformed the prospects of survival for babies born extremely prematurely. Currently in major centres in the UK more than 80% will...
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cmf file 26 (2004) - speciesism

Until recently there has been very little debate about the relative status of humans and animals. This has largely been because both Christians and humanists believe that human beings hold a special position in the natural world. Christians see humans as special because we are created by God in his...
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cmf file 25 (2004) - gender identity disorder

On 11th July 2002, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK had infringed Christine Goodwin's right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In refusing her the right to marry her partner, the UK government had additionally broken Article 12.[1] The court...
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cmf file 24 (2004) - globalisation and health

Globalisation is based on the idea of free trade between nations. It has crept into our language just as rapidly as it has affected our lives. Just look at what we wear, eat and use. Fashion clothing comes from countries like Mauritius or Pakistan; tea from Kenya or Sri Lanka; bananas from the...
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cmf file 23 (2003) - abortion

Western society is full of contradictions as can be seen in attitudes towards early human life. First, the healthcare system has departments of fetal medicine, while also providing facilities and staff to perform abortions. Secondly, the law allows abortion for abnormalities right up to term, but...
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cmf file 22 (2003) - euthanasia

The word 'euthanasia' comes from the Greek roots eu (well) and thanatos (death), but currently means much more than 'good-death'. Euthanasia has been usefully defined as 'the intentional killing, by act or omission, of a person whose life is felt not to be worth living'.[1] This is the definition...
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cmf file 21 (2003) - sex selection

A woman is pregnant. She and her partner already have two children, both of whom are boys. Friends meet them in the street, and over normal conversation say, 'Let's hope it is a girl, you'd be unlucky to get three boys'. When the third child is a boy, the same people probably say, 'Oh well, never...
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cmf file 20 (2003) - homosexuality

The past decade has seen a growing acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships as part of a range of patterns of behaviour within our society. Psychologists talk about a spectrum of sexual orientation. At one extreme there are people who have never had a homosexual thought in their...
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cmf file 19 (2002) - advanced directives

You are suffering from dementia and are in a nursing home. Unable to recognise your family, speak or swallow, you are fed through a tube down your nose. You have repeated chest infections and doctors keep giving you antibiotics. You would not have wanted to live like this, but the staff seem...
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cmf file 18 (2002) - the mind-body problem

Stories of out of body experiences, beliefs in life after death, or diseases affecting the brain all raise questions about whether our minds and our bodies are separate entities that have the ability to exist independently. Out of body experiences can occur under the influence of drugs, as part of...
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cmf file 17 (2002) - resource allocation

Every working day, healthcare providers are confronted with the reality of limited resources. They are forced to make decisions and do the best they can within these constraints. Not only do they need to keep to a financial budget, they also have to allocate time and energy. This process is...
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cmf file 16 (2002) - reproductive cloning

Dolly the cloned sheep was born on 5 July, 1996 and was introduced by the publication of a paper in Nature on 27 February 1997.[1] Since then ethicists, scientists and policy makers have struggled to make sense of the implications and determine whether the initial reaction against the notion of...
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cmf file 15 (2001) - human experiments

An enthusiastic doctor experiments on homeless people in New York. Many of the people die, but he continues, hoping to finding a cure for people with damaged nerves. It's the foundation of the plot of Extreme Measures the film starring Hugh Grant and Gene Hackman. At the end of the film we are left...
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cmf file 14 (2001) - genes and behaviour

Serious study of the genetics of behaviour started with work on social invertebrates. By observing ants, biologists discovered that co-operative behaviour can be genetically determined and create a cohesive society. Researchers started to talk about 'sociobiology' when describing how altruism could...
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cmf file 13 (2001) - do not resuscitate dilemmas

'Do not resuscitate (DNR [1]) orders can be considered only after discussion with the patient or others close to the patient, and they should be reviewed at regular intervals.' This is the opinion of the British Medical Association, the Resuscitation Council (UK) and the Royal College of Nursing....
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cmf file 12 (2000) - therapeutic cloning and stem cells

'Cloning people is wrong'. This is a common gut reaction to the idea of producing identical copies of human beings. It's easy to conjure up images of designer soldiers or multiple copies of despotic rulers as in Ira Levin's Boys from Brazil. Listen further and you will find that the advocates of...
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cmf file 11 (2000) - the human genome

Four molecules (bases), adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C) 'spell out' the genes on which all living things are built. While viruses only have around 200,000 bases, human beings have three thousand million. Surprisingly about 90 per cent of this seems to be inactive. The rest...
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cmf file 10 (2000) - what is a person?

Who am I? It is one of life's basic questions and it has troubled philosophers through the centuries. One aspect of the answer lies in working out what it is to be a person. This is not just of academic interest. Your conclusion will affect the way you think about key issues surrounding life, death...
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cmf file 9 (2000) - physician-assisted suicide

Being in pain that is so severe that it occupies your life and being incapable of relieving it, is many people's worst nightmare. Similarly some worry that they will reach the point in life where they would like to die in relative peace, only to find that they are forced to receive massive and...
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cmf file 8 (1999) - dependence and addiction

It's easy to buy drugs from illegal suppliers. However some drugs not only cause serious harm, but also make the user crave future doses. The need for repeated doses of a drug can occur with drugs pre-scribed by a doctor, as well as those bought illegally. Such dependence can be benign, as happens...
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cmf file 7 (1999) - when to withdraw or withhold treatment

When people are ill they tend to go to a doctor, nurse or another health-care professional to ask for some form of treatment. The problem may be a sore throat, in which case the person may be hoping for a prescription for antibiotics. The issue may be more serious and the person wants to be...
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cmf file 6 (1999) - artificial reproduction

A couple usually seeks advice about infertility once the woman has failed to become pregnant after 1-2 years of unprotected intercourse. In about one third of couples the problem originates in the man, in another third in the woman and in the final third no cause is identified. Adoption is a...
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cmf file 5 (1999) - the ethics of caring

'If caring were enough, anyone could be a nurse' read a 1990's American nurse recruitment advertisement. It promoted nursing as an intellectual, science-based profession rather than a caring-based profession. The implication is that caring is no longer valued within our society. But if that really...
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cmf file 4 (1998) - adolescent sexuality

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cmf file 3 (1998) - Christian views on ethics

Discovering God's will - When Christians make decisions about what is right and wrong their underlying rule is that what God wants and says is best. This does not necessarily lead to their conclusions being wildly different from those who leave God out of the equation. The Christian explanation is...
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cmf file 2 (1998) - animal experimentation

Animal experimentation is a huge industry. Each year in the UK scientists use almost 3 million animals. While the majority are rats and mice, one per cent are rabbits and 0.1 per cent are monkeys. Most animals are used to help develop and test drug for treating human diseases, although about 17,000...
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cmf file 1 (1998) - introduction to ethics

Why are ethics important? - Today's healthcare professionals are capable of remarkable feats, many of which would have amazed their predecessors. But such advances in technology carry with them a hidden danger. It is all very well being able to say 'yes' to the question 'Can we do this?' But we...
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