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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 24 November 2000

24 November 2000

24 November 2000 The lower house of the Dutch parliament is expected to pass a bill legalising euthanasia next Tuesday, after debating the issue for a final time yesterday. The upper house is then expected to endorse the bill, which would take effect early next year. The Netherlands would thus become the first country in the world in which the national parliament had officially legalised euthanasia. Euthanasia was decriminalised by the Dutch in 1993 and has since been tolerated despite a maximum legal penalty of 12 years' imprisonment officially remaining in place. [Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November ] Religious leaders in Latvia refused to participate in a service to mark the country's National Day in protest at the government's stance on a variety of moral issues, including that of abortion. Archbishop Janis Vanags, leader of the Latvian Lutheran Church, wrote in an open letter to the country's president that he felt "sadness and shame" at the policies of the government and particularly cited the legalisation of abortion. [The Tablet, 25 November] Researchers have concluded that more than 10% of deaths in Belgium are as a result of euthanasia, despite the fact that euthanasia remains illegal. Teams from Ghent University and Free University Brussels sent questionnaires to the doctors who had certified a random sample of 1,925 death certificates over a four-month period. Based on their findings, they estimated that 1.3% of all deaths in Belgium could be directly attributed to euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, 3.2% were as a result of lethal injections without the patient's explicit request, and 5.8% were the result of a doctor withholding treatment with the intention of ending the patient's life. [BBC News online, 24 November ] Pharmacists in British Columbia, Canada, have been told that if they refuse to dispense the morning-after pill, they must refer women to another pharmacist who will dispense it. The morning-after pill will become available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription in British Columbia on Friday of next week, but it was reported that about 100 pharmacists are expected to refuse to dispense the abortifacient drug, or even to refer women to pharmacists who would dispense it. Brenda Osmond, deputy registrar of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, said that the pharmacists' code of ethics allowed pharmacists to refuse to dispense a drug, but also obliged them to find another pharmacist who would. She warned: "... if there is no one else, the patient's rights must be honoured and the pharmacist must provide the drug." [The Vancouver Province, 23 November; from Pro-Life E-News] Researchers in Australia have found that obesity significantly reduces a woman's chances of sustaining a pregnancy. The research team in Adelaide studied 3,500 women who had received fertility treatment and found that very obese women had a 60% lower chance of success. The team concluded that this was because obesity can disturb the lining of the uterus and thus make implantation of an embryo [already a new and unique human being] less likely. [BBC News online, 24 November ]

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