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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 April 2002

25 April 2002

25 April 2002 England's most senior woman judge has ordered prison authorities to leave a mentally ill prisoner to die of self-inflicted wounds. The prisoner, known as W, has refused treatment after wounding himself in protest at the refusal of doctors to treat his mental condition because they found him too violent. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss judged that the prisoner had the capacity to refuse consent for medical treatment, even if such a refusal would lead to his death. [BBC News online, 24 April ] SPUC expressed concern that no group had been able to intervene in the case because of the lack of public information in advance of the hearings. The European Court of Human Rights will deliver its verdict in the Dianne Pretty case on Monday. Mrs Pretty, who has motor neurone disease, asked the court to rule that she had a right to be helped to die under the European Convention on Human Rights after the English courts rejected her claim. [Ananova, 25 April ] A leading UK scientist has said that hostility to eugenics should be re-assessed. Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, said that eugenics had a bad name on account of its Nazi connotations, but that "the general principle of eugenics, that we could improve the genetic quality of the population, need[ed] taking seriously". Professor Lynn pointed out that eugenics was already being practised by way of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), and claimed that this technology would "take off, because it satisfies the needs of individuals, both for themselves and as parents". [BBC, 26 April ] PGD involves the screening of unborn children created through in vitro fertilisation, so that only those who meet certain criteria are implanted. The genetically 'inferior' embryos are usually destroyed. Legislators in California have voted overwhelmingly for a law which would oblige hospitals to provide abortifacient morning-after pills to alleged rape victims. The state assembly passed the legislation by 44 votes to zero, and it will now pass to the senate. If the measure is made law, California would become the fourth American state after Washington, New York and Illinois to enact such a measure. [Long Beach Press, 23 April ] A member of the Ugandan parliament has called for the legalisation of abortion. Dora Byamukama, the member for Mwenge South and chairman of Law and Advocacy for Women in Uganda [an organisation which campaigns for so-called reproductive rights among other issues] said that abortion should be permitted in cases of rape and incest. She claimed that many poorer women died as a result of unsafe, illegal abortions, and that abortion was already available for rich women. [, 25 April; via Northern Light ] Dominic Baster, SPUC's international secretary, commented: "It has been a common ploy of pro-abortionists around the world for many years to cite high numbers of illegal abortions. Their claims are often unsubstantiated, always unverifiable, and ignore the undeniable fact that all abortions are deadly for the innocent and vulnerable unborn children killed by them." An unborn child has been given a life-saving blood transfusion by doctors in the United States. Isaac James Melendez, who is not due to be born until the second half of July, has Rh-positive blood and was becoming increasingly anaemic because antibodies in his mother's Rh-negative blood were killing off his red blood cells. A doctor at the Kaiser Sacramento Medical Centre in California pricked a vein in Isaac's umbilical cord, drew off some of his blood, and replaced it with half a pint of donated O Rh-negative blood. [Sacramento Bee, 20 April; via Pro-Life Infonet ] This technique was pioneered by the late Professor William Liley 40 years ago, but is rarely used today due to the advent of other treatments for rhesus iso-immunisation.

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