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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 March 2001

20 March 2001

20 March 2001 A mother and her unborn child have both died as a result of an amniocentesis test. A coroner's court in Warrington, England, heard yesterday that Jane McCarthy miscarried and died after becoming infected with an E. coli bacterium last May. An expert told the inquest that Mrs McCarthy probably became infected when the amniocentesis needle accidentally perforated her bowel, although the infection could also have been transferred when the needle pierced the amniotic sac. The coroner concluded that Mrs McCarthy died from cardiac arrest caused by septic shock. She was reportedly only the second woman in the world to die after contracting an E. coli infection in this way, although amniocentesis tests lead to many ante-natal deaths. About 40,000 amniocentesis tests are carried out in the UK each year, with a miscarriage resulting in around one percent of cases. If the test indicates that the unborn child has Down's syndrome or some other chromosomal anomaly, abortion is usually the only option offered. [BBC News online, 19 March ; Daily Mail, 20 March; SPUC] A Canadian expert on palliative care has called for a dramatic improvement in the provision of adequate care for the dying in order to provide an alternative to euthanasia and assisted suicide. Dr Balfour Mount claimed that only five percent of the Canadian population had access to palliative care and condemned the failure of political leaders to address the issue. Dr Mount did not reject euthanasia out of hand, but insisted that "we can't possibly morally address the need for euthanasia until we've made palliative care available to people". [LifeSite, 19 March ] It appears that a Canadian federal advisory committee is to propose the authorisation of destructive research on cloned human beings. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research is reported to favour the use of pre-implantation human embryos left over from in vitro fertilisation treatment for the production of stem cells. Reports appear to suggest that these embryos would be cloned and allowed to mature up to a certain point at which their stem cells would be extracted. The consent of the embryo's parents would be required in each case. The public will be invited to comment on the guidelines before they are officially adopted. [CP, via Calgary Herald, 19 March ] An official of the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund in Cambodia has said that information about abortion is "a basic human right". Yoshinko Zenda was objecting to US President George Bush's decision to block federal funding of groups which promote abortion overseas, even if they do not provide it themselves. It was claimed that the American policy would cripple the work of 90% of Cambodia's healthcare non-governmental organisations, even though abortion counselling forms only a small part of their activities. The Bush administration has claimed that most recipients of US aid have chosen to stop offering information on abortion rather than lose funding. [Chicago Tribune, 14 March ; also SPUC News Digest for 15 March ] An opinion poll conducted in the American state of New York has indicated that access to abortion is one of the least important issues for women. Access to quality health care ranked first (with 63% citing it as their first, second or third biggest concern) while gender pay equality came second and affordable, quality child care came third. Access to abortion came eighth (22% ranked it in their top three concerns), tied with family and medical leave. The poll was commissioned by Feminists for Life of New York and carried out by Vital Choices. [FFL-NY, via Pro-Life Infonet, 20 March] Two more American trials of experimental therapies for Parkinson's disease have been abandoned. The trials involved the injection of porcine foetal cells into patients' brains. Two weeks ago it was revealed that researchers in the US had abandoned attempts to treat the disease by injecting cells from aborted children into the brains of patients after "absolutely devastating" side-effects were observed [see news digest for 8 March ]. Now two companies based in Boston, Massachusetts, have abandoned trials involving the use of cells from pig foetuses because no benefits to patients were recorded. [New York Times, via Omaha World-Herald, 19 March ]

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