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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 4 August 2000

4 August 2000

4 August 2000 Following the demise in the current British parliamentary session of the Medical Treatment (Prevention of Euthanasia) Bill, its sponsor has vowed to re-introduce it when parliament resumes in November. Ann Winterton said: "... it has achieved a great deal in publicising the issue and has sent a clear signal to both the British Medical Association and the Government that euthanasia, whether by action or omission, is unacceptable to the people of this country." [Catholic Herald, 4 August] The English Court of Appeal has reduced the prison sentences of three people found guilty of assaulting doctors in saving the life of David Glass, their severely disabled nephew. Diane Wild's sentence was reduced from 12 months to six months, while Julie Hodgson and Raymond Davies each had their sentences cut from nine months to four months. Doctors had put David Glass on diamorphine, which depressed his breathing, and admitted that the boy would have died were it not for the actions of his relatives. The appeal court judge insisted that the shortening of the sentences was in consideration of David's care and did not imply that the original judgement had been wrong or excessive. A spokesman for Alert, an anti-euthanasia group, asked, "If doctors are free to arrange their patients' deaths and no-one may stop them, why was Dr Shipman [a mass-murderer] convicted for making this 'hard decision' 15 times over?" [Catholic Herald, 4 August; also cf. SPUC News Digest for 4 July] The new president of Argentina has affirmed his opposition to abortion and said that his country will adopt a pro-life stand at international conferences. After a private meeting with Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello, apostolic nuncio to Argentina, President Fernando De La Rua said: "I don't know if I will be just like the former president, but what I can say is that this president is against abortion. As head of the government, I will shape the nation's international policy accordingly." Concerns had been raised after the Argentine delegation for the first time in 10 years had failed to take an outspoken pro-life stand at the recent Beijing +5 UN meeting in New York. [CWNews, 3 August] George W Bush briefly included mention of the abortion issue in his 51-minute speech to the Republican party's national convention yesterday, by which he accepted his party's nomination as candidate for the US presidential election in November. He conceded that "good people disagree on the issue" but also reaffirmed his commitment to sign a bill banning partial-birth abortions. [Reuters, Yahoo! News, 4 August] Canadian scientists have developed a technique which they say could enable unborn babies to receive safe vaccinations. Dr Philip Griebel of Saskatchewan University hoped that DNA could be used to produce vaccines of just one gene which could be injected into an unborn child without the risks associated with conventional vaccines. Millions of newly born children every year die from disease, especially in the developing world. Yet Dr Rob Feldman of Microscience, a British company which produces vaccines, warned of the risks involved in passing any needle into an unborn child. The amniocentesis test, in which a needle enters the amniotic sac but not the unborn child, carries a one per cent chance of miscarriage. If the needle passes into the unborn child as well, the risk is increased further. [Daily Mail, 1 August; BBC News Online, 2 August] The way in which DNA could be used to produce a vaccine is not made clear in the sources cited. A federal court in the US has thrown out a law passed in Louisiana which required abortion clinics to be subject to the same licences and inspections as surgical facilities. District Judge Ivan Lemelle made permanent an order originally given last year stipulating that abortion clinics are not outpatient surgical centres. The state has not yet decided whether to appeal. An attorney who represented three Louisiana abortion clinics said: "The state can no longer trample on women's constitutional rights by imposing unnecessary regulations on abortion facilities." [New Orleans, Digital City, 4 August]

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