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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 22 November 2001

22 November 2001

22 November 2001 Participants at a seminar on bioethics in the European parliament in Brussels have heard that research on adult stem cells has shown far greater therapeutic potential than research on embryonic stem cells. Dr David Prentice, professor in the department of life science at Indiana State University and an advisor to the US Congress on stem cell research, also explained that proponents of experimental cloning had overstated its potential because there was no guarantee that the use of stem cells extracted from clones would solve the problem of rejection in recipients. Cloned embryos created by cell nuclear transfer would inherit some of the genetic make-up of the egg donor. [SPUC, 22 November] A study of Australian surgeons has found that one third of them have hastened the deaths of patients by administering excessive doses of painkillers, while one in 25 has given a lethal injection to a patient who requested it. The study, conducted by Newcastle university and reported in the Medical Journal of Australia, surveyed two thirds of surgeons in Australia, where euthanasia is illegal. More than half of the surgeons who admitted hastening patients' deaths said that the patients had not asked to die sooner. Respondents who specified no religious affiliation were much more likely to have practised euthanasia than Christian surgeons. [Zenit, 21 November ] A US district judge has extended the restraining order which is currently blocking the directive issued by Mr John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, aimed at nullifying Oregon's law on physician-assisted suicide. Judge Robert Jones said that his order meant that doctors should not fear any legal repercussions if they continued to use federally controlled substances to end the lives of patients under the so-called death with dignity law. The judge gave both sides five months to prepare their arguments in the case. [AP, via Northern Light, 21 November ] A mother who gave birth to a healthy child after undergoing a failed abortion has been offered about £10,000 in an out-of-court settlement. Mrs Kim Nicholls, 36, from Staffordshire, England, was advised to abort her unborn child in 1999 after suffering serious health problems during the caesarean births of her three previous children. Three months after the operation at a British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic, she felt a baby kicking inside her and went on to give birth to a healthy daughter. Mrs Nicholls' solicitor said that the sum offered by Dr Sen Gupta, the private abortionist who carried out the operation, was inadequate. Mrs Nicholls fears that she was pregnant with twins and that only one of them was removed during the abortion. [BBC News online and Ananova , 22 November] Mr Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and world authority on China's one-child policy, will speak about the current debate on western funding for coercive population control at a public meeting in London, England, next Wednesday (the 28th). The one-hour meeting at St Vincent's Centre, Carlisle Place, SW1 , will start at 19:30.

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