Thursday, July 7, 2011

Charity offers baby as raffle prize.

This is bizarre. How is this legal? From Washington Post:
Games of chance give lucky people the opportunity to win almost anything, from a goldfish at a carnival to millions of dollars. Now a charity in Britain is giving one couple the chance to have a baby.

To Hatch, a charity that offers fertility treatment advice, will sell £20 raffle tickets to couples who want a chance to win £25,000 worth of in vitro fertilization treatments. This controversial lottery, set to launch July 30, has been received with some criticism.

Anyone can enter to the contest and can give the prize to someone else if they win, according to the Telegraph.. If IVF treatments fails, then the charity will offer a surrogate, donor eggs or surgery.

To Hatch founder Camille Strachan said the lottery comes at a time when the National Health Service, Britain’s publicly funded health care system, has undergone budget cuts: “We hope the To Hatch Lottery can ease the burden on the NHS and reduce the stress slightly on some of those who are struggling.”

Josephine Quintavalle, director of the Comment on Reproductive Ethics, told the Telegraph the lottery “demeans the whole nature of human reproduction.” She also questioned the legality of the practice to Sky News.

“This latest initiative, turning the process of reproduction into a buy-your-ticket lottery, is absolutely unacceptable and quite possibly breaks European Law on the commercialization of human tissue,” she said. “It is in this area where an immediate investigation should be demanded. It is surely not legal to pay £20 to have access to another woman’s womb?”

The charity’s Web site was down Wednesday shortly after the announcement went viral. A message on the site read, “To Hatch is currently offline for site-wide maintenance, it will be up and running shortly.” It was later changed to, “Due to overwhelming demand the To Hatch website is currently offline for site-wide maintenance. It will be back up and running as soon as possible.”

U.S. to send condolences after military suicides.

Amazing to think that people were against this because they thought it would encourage suicide! From NY Times:
Breaking with longstanding concerns that officially memorializing military suicides might encourage them, President Obama announced on Wednesday that he would begin sending letters of condolence to the families of troops who kill themselves in combat zones.

“This decision was made after a difficult and exhaustive review of the former policy, and I did not make it lightly,” the president said in a statement. “This issue is emotional, painful and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely. They didn’t die because they were weak.”

As the number of military suicides has surged since 2001, the issue of presidential letters — which are sent to the families of every service member killed in action — has become a source of great dismay among families of suicides. Some organized letter-writing campaigns and prodded members of Congress to introduce legislation to overturn the policy, which has existed for several administrations.

In 2009, the Obama administration demurred, citing widespread concerns among veterans groups and senior military officers that such letters might be construed as sanctioning suicide. But on Wednesday, citing an 18-month review of the policy, Mr. Obama said he had concluded that by recognizing certain suicides, he might destigmatize the problem of mental illness within the military and thereby encourage service members to seek counseling.

“The fact that they didn’t get the help they needed must change,” the president’s statement said. “Our men and women in uniform have borne the incredible burden of our wars, and we need to do everything in our power to honor their service, and to help them stay strong for themselves, for their families and for our nation.”

The new policy, which was first reported by CBS News, will apply only to troops who commit suicide in officially designated combat zones, mainly Afghanistan and Iraq. The letters will differ from those sent to troops killed in combat, though the White House declined to say precisely how.

In recent years, the military suicide rate has been above the rate for the general population, a reflection, experts say, of the stress of rapid-tempo combat operations and multiple deployments. But a majority of those suicides, 295 last year among active-duty personnel, have been committed outside combat zones, mostly in the United States.