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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 October 2001

5 October 2001

5 October 2001 The president of the International Right to Life Federation has condemned the wording of the Irish government's proposed constitutional amendment. Dr Jack Willke, who heads the international organisation based in Ohio to which many pro-life organisations throughout the world are affiliated (including SPUC in the UK), urged the Irish government to define abortion as the destruction of human life "after fertilisation" rather than "after implantation". In an open letter, Dr Willke insisted: "...this is my notification to any and all that if this is the wording that is actually proposed, we will do everything within our power to inform the Irish people of the exact meaning of this. Further, we will do everything in our power to defeat this referendum." [IRLF, 4 October] The English high court has authorised doctors to starve and dehydrate another patient to death. The woman worked as a solicitor before choking on her vomit following a minor operation and lapsing into a persistent vegetative state (PVS). In authorising the withdrawal of feeding tubes, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the high court's family division, defended her decision that the woman should die by saying: "She would want to die in peace and not to persist in the twilight limbo in which she exists at the moment." [BBC News online, 4 October ] One of Britain's leading IVF specialists is facing accusations that he botched a woman's fertility treatment and flouted professional guidelines. If Mr Ian Craft, director of the London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre, is found guilty by the General Medical Council, he could be struck off and his clinic's licence revoked. Mr Craft is accused of placing eggs and sperm in the wrong, damaged fallopian tube of a patient, and of placing 11 eggs inside her at once--many more than the limit of three (which was recently reduced to two) set by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. The technique Mr Craft was using (gamete intra-fallopian transfer) involved mixing sperm and eggs and then transferring them into the fallopian tube for fertilisation. [The Times and Independent , 5 October] Any human individuals conceived during the botched procedure died. An English court has thrown out a so-called wrongful birth case. Miss Tracey Cruddas claimed that her general practitioner had been negligent in failing to tell her that she was pregnant because, had she been told, she would have had an abortion. Miss Cruddas went on to give birth to Shannon, her third child, who is now three. If Miss Cruddas had proved that her doctor was liable for the pregnancy, she would have sought compensation from him for the pain, suffering and loss of earnings which allegedly resulted from it. However, Judge Judith Moir at the High Court sitting in Newcastle ruled that Dr Andrew Thompson had not acted negligently because Miss Cruddas' symptoms could have been caused by a gastric problem and she had taken a number of pregnancy tests which had all been negative. [Ananova, 3 October ] A team of doctors in Scotland have given life-saving key-hole surgery to a two-day-old baby born three weeks prematurely. Gordon MacKinlay, a consultant paediatric surgeon at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, repaired a defect in Ebony Martin's oesophagus so that she could swallow. [The Daily Telegraph, 5 October ] Foetal abnormality is a ground for abortion up to birth in the UK.

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