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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 11 August 2000

11 August 2000

11 August 2000 The English High Court has given doctors permission to withdraw a ventilator from a 19-year-old man suffering from motor neurone disease. The man, referred to only as AK, developed the condition in 1998 and can now only communicate by blinking his left eye. AK is said to have told his family, by way of blinks of the eye to signify yes or no, that he wanted his ventilator turned off two weeks after he loses all ability to communicate, but doctors were uncertain as to the legality of this. Mr Justice Hughes, of the High Court's family division, said that it would be "positively unlawful" to deny AK's request. Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, observed: "It is hard to see why this case went to court. Artificial ventilation, unlike assisted feeding, is clearly a medical treatment and it could be legitimately withdrawn if the patient found it too burdensome. This kind of decision is one made frequently by doctors." [BBC News online, 11 August; SPUC, London] It has been claimed that a lawsuit filed 14 months ago in North Dakota could be about to open the way for a series of legal claims against abortion providers for failing to disclose the inherent risks. The lawsuit in question, referred to as Mattson vs Red River Women's Clinic, centres upon a brochure published by the abortion clinic which denied that abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer. John Kindley, Amy Jo Mattson's lawyer, said that if the ongoing suit were successful, it could "open the abortion industry up to hundreds of tobacco-like lawsuits ... there are millions of women with potential causes of action out there." Another similar suit was filed in Philadelphia in July and more are predicted. [Cybercast News Service&Washington Times, 9 August; Pro-Life Infonet] Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles with well-known pro-life credentials, has accepted a surprise invitation to give the invocation, or prayer, at the Democratic party's national convention [which starts next Monday]. The cardinal has spoken before about the "scourge of abortion" and in 1996 he specifically called on the Democrats to throw out the pro-abortion language in their official policy platform and "to return to their own earlier pro-life roots." [Los Angeles Times, 10 August] The Democratic party's candidate for governor of Illinois in 1998 has said that he will not run again in 2002 because he believes that his pro-life views are a hindrance. Many Democrats refused to support Glenn Poshard in 1998 on account of his pro-life beliefs, despite the fact that George Ryan, the Republican candidate, also espoused certain pro-life views. Yet Mr Poshard said of his pro-life stance: "[It] is just not a position that I can change. It comes from the way I was raised, and it is part of my faith." [Decatur Herald&Review, 9 August; from Pro-Life Infonet] LifeSite, a Canadian pro-life organisation, has obtained an order-form issued by the Pennsylvania office of SmithKline Beecham, an international pharmaceutical company, for the body parts of aborted unborn children to be used in research. [LifeSite Daily News, 10 August] Campaigners for a 'woman's right to know' measure in the American state of Colorado have met the deadline for submitting their petition. The measure, which would impose an abortion waiting period of 24 hours, should now be included on the ballot to be held on 7 November. [Denver Rocky Mountain News, 8 August]

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