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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 October 2001

11 October 2001

11 October 2001 A coalition of pro-life groups is today presenting its case to three British high court judges who are considering a request from a woman with motor neurone disease who wants to be helped to die. The director of public prosecutions is being asked to say that he will not press charges against Mr Brian Pretty if he helps bring about the death of Diane Pretty, his wife. Mrs Pretty's counsel argued yesterday that his client's right to life under human rights law included the right to die and to choose how and when to do so. [BBC, 11 October ] Although the hearing is expected to finish today, a judgement is not anticipated straight away. The pro-life intervention is supported by a broad coalition of pro-life organisations. The UK Food Standards Agency has warned pregnant women to moderate their consumption of caffeine to avoid miscarriage. The suggested daily maximum is four small cups of instant coffee, three mugs of brewed coffee or six cups of tea. The agency pointed out that caffeine is also present in chocolate, cola drinks, high-energy drinks and some over-the-counter medicines. [Times, 11 October ] Irish Catholic bishops have given conditional support for a proposed change to the country's constitution concerning abortion. The church says it has still fully to assess the amendment's ethical, medical and legal implications. [Telegraph, 10 October ] The amendment would only give protection to unborn children after implantation, and fails to exclude certain abortifacient birth control methods. The US House of Representatives will tomorrow consider a measure to prevent federal funding of education agencies which provide morning-after pills, or which provide prescriptions for such pills to unmarried girls under 18. The amendment to a proposed act has been put forward by Republican Congresswoman Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania. [House of Representatives report 107-233] Western doctors must respect Islamic ethics when caring for Muslim patients, according to an article in this month's Pediatrics. Euthanasia is forbidden by Islam and most scholars hold that life begins at conception. Contraception is allowed for married couples as long as it does not damage the reproductive organs and operates by stopping fertilisation. The article is by doctors from Stanford University, California, and the Iranian health ministry. [Yahoo!, 9 October ] Scientists in America hope that a better understanding of mothers' immune systems could help prevent miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and some cancers. Researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have been studying how hormones and protein naturally suppress women's immunity so that newly-implanted embryos are not rejected. [Boston Herald, 8 October ] Pro-life commentators are concerned that this research could be used to develop early abortifacients.

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