Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Rights


Rapid advancements in human neuroscience and neurotechnology open unprecedented possibilities for accessing, collecting, sharing and manipulating information from the human brain. Such applications raise important challenges to human rights principles that need to be addressed to prevent unintended consequences. This paper assesses the implications of emerging neurotechnology applications in the context of the human rights framework and suggests that existing human rights may not be sufficient to respond to these emerging issues. After analysing the relationship between neuroscience and human rights, we identify four new rights that may become of great relevance in the coming decades: the right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right to mental integrity, and the right to psychological continuity.

Concepts: Nervous system, Psychology, Neuroanatomy, Brain, Human brain, Human rights, Liberalism, Rights


Donald Trump’s presidency heralds public health retreat in the short term. Yet the surging opposition to his regime-redolent of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War mobilizations of the 1950s and 1960s-could portend better things ahead. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print March 21, 2017: e1-e3. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.303729).

Concepts: Rights, Civil and political rights, Donald Trump, Ivana Trump, Fred Trump


In 2014, the United States granted individuals a right of access to their own laboratory test results, including genomic data. Many observers feel that this right is in tension with regulatory and bioethical standards designed to protect the safety of people who undergo genomic testing. This commentary attributes this tension to growing pains within an expanding federal regulatory program for genetic and genomic testing. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 expanded the regulatory agenda to encompass civil rights and consumer safety. The individual access right, as it applies to genomic data, is best understood as a civil-rights regulation. Competing regulatory objectives-safety and civil rights-were not successfully integrated during the initial rollout of genomic civil-rights regulations after 2008. Federal law clarifies how to prioritize safety and civil rights when the two come into conflict, although with careful policy design, the two need not collide. This commentary opens a dialog about possible solutions to advance safety and civil rights together.

Concepts: Law, Individual rights, Rights, Civil and political rights


There is a notable shift toward more repression and criminalization in sex work policies, in Europe and elsewhere. So-called neo-abolitionism reduces sex work to trafficking, with increased policing and persecution as a result. Punitive “demand reduction” strategies are progressively more popular. These developments call for a review of what we know about the effects of punishing and repressive regimes vis-à-vis sex work. From the evidence presented, sex work repression and criminalization are branded as “waterbed politics” that push and shove sex workers around with an overload of controls and regulations that in the end only make things worse. It is illustrated how criminalization and repression make it less likely that commercial sex is worker-controlled, non-abusive, and non-exploitative. Criminalization is seriously at odds with human rights and public health principles. It is concluded that sex work criminalization is barking up the wrong tree because it is fighting sex instead of crime and it is not offering any solution for the structural conditions that sex work (its ugly sides included) is rooted in. Sex work repression travels a dead-end street and holds no promises whatsoever for a better future. To fight poverty and gendered inequalities, the criminal justice system simply is not the right instrument. The reasons for the persistent stigma on sex work as well as for its present revival are considered.

Concepts: Law, Human rights, Crime, Criminal law, Prostitution, Criminal justice, Police, Rights


This article presents the Islamic bioethical deliberation on the issue of sex assignment surgery (SAS) for infants with disorders of sex development (DSD) or intersexed as a case study. The main objective of this study is to present a different approach in assessing a biomedical issue within the medium of the Maqasid al-Shari'ah. Within the framework of the maqasidic scheme of benefits and harms, any practice where benefits are substantial is considered permissible, while those promoting harms are prohibited. The concept of Maqasid al-Shari'ah which is the mechanistic interpretation of Qur'an and Hadith presents the holistic attention of Islam on many life activities, including healthcare. Indeed, this concept encompasses many aspects of worldly life, both for the human individual and collectively for the whole society. In healthcare, the practice of SAS on DSD newborns has presented an assortment of implications on the future livelihood of the affected individual. The process of decision-making seems to be very multifaceted since every element such as the determination of the ‘correct’ sex and the urgency of early surgery must consider the benefits and harms, as well as the child’s rights and best interest. The application of the concept of Maqasid al-Shari'ah, would convey a pragmatic approach that is often disregarded in Western medicine. This approach considers the right of the individual to live life optimally, individually and socially and practice his faith, precisely, in accordance with the assigned gender.

Concepts: Medicine, Gender, Islam, Rights, Qur'an, Muhammad, Hadith, Sex assignment


The previous article in this law column considered a patient’s right to give a real consent before a district nurse could proceed with care and treatment. This article considers the district nurse’s rights and responsibilities when considering withdrawing or withholding clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration. It focuses on recent cases in the Court of Protection, M v A Hospital [2017] , and High Court, NHS Trust v Mr Y & Mrs Y [2017] , and on the need to bring such cases to court before treatment is withdrawn.

Concepts: Hospital, Law, Human rights, Concepts in ethics, National Health Service, Withdrawal, Rights, Civil and political rights


This paper explores the interplay between the human rights and drug control frameworks and critiques case law on medicinal cannabis use to demonstrate that a bona fide human rights perspective allows for a broader conception of ‘health’. This broad conception, encompassing both medicalised and social constructionist definitions, can inform public health policies relating to medicinal cannabis use. The paper also demonstrates how a human rights lens can alleviate a core tension between the State and the individual within the drug policy field. The leading medicinal cannabis case in the UK highlights the judiciary’s failure to engage with an individual’s human right to health as they adopt an arbitrary, externalist view, focussing on the legality of cannabis to the exclusion of other concerns. Drawing on some international comparisons, the paper considers how a human rights perspective can lead to an approach to medicinal cannabis use which facilitates a holistic understanding of public health.

Concepts: Public health, Health, Law, Human rights, Cannabis, Medical cannabis, Rights, Legality of cannabis by country


Patients have a right to autonomy that encompasses making medical decisions that others consider ‘bad’. The ambits of this right in law and clinical practice are explored in this article, which describes an expansion of welfare protections across different aspects of medical law and explores their justifications and implications. In England and Wales, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 sets out protections for those who fall within its definition of incapacity. Those who retain capacity are ostensibly free to make decisions others consider unwise. But the decisions of those with borderline capacity; those whose decisions conflict with the public interest in protecting the patient from harm; and those considered ‘vulnerable’ are, in circumstances explored in this article, susceptible to override. The article explores the effects of these developments on the relationship between patients' autonomy rights and clinicians' responsibilities.

Concepts: Patient, Hospital, Doctor-patient relationship, Law, Human rights, English law, Bioethics, Rights


Government policy is a fundamental component of initiating change to improve the provision of palliative care at a national level. The World Health Organisation’s recognition of palliative care as a basic human right has seen many countries worldwide develop national policy in palliative and end of life care. There is increasing debate about what form comprehensive palliative care services should take, particularly in relation to the balance between acute and community based services. It is therefore timely to review how national policy positions the current and future role of the acute hospital in palliative care provision. The aim of this exploratory review is to identify the role envisaged for the acute hospital in palliative and end of life care provision in five countries with an ‘advanced’ level of integration.

Concepts: Evaluation, Palliative care, Law, Human rights, Hospice, Government, United Nations, Rights


The United States is divided over the legalization of marijuana. Arguments in favor include protection of individual rights, elimination of criminal sentencing for minor offenses, collection of tax revenue, and elimination of the black market. Counterarguments include the possible escalation of use, adverse mental and physical health effects, and potential medical and social costs. Some steps have already been taken to reduce harsh and racially biased sentencing. There is growing support in Congress to eliminate federal mandatory minimums for drug offenses, and 19 states have either decriminalized or eliminated jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Furthermore, 21 . . .

Concepts: Medicine, United States, United Kingdom, U.S. state, Race, Mexico, Individual rights, Rights