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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 30 May 2002

30 May 2002

30 May 2002 A British surgeon has been defending his decision to carry out an abortion on a female patient without her consent. The General Medical Council's professional conduct committee has heard that Reginald Dixon, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, discovered that Barbara Whiten, a 35-year-old college lecturer, was pregnant in the course of a hysterectomy operation in 1993. Mr Dixon decided to continue with the operation at the King's Mill, Nottinghamshire, because he thought it was in the patient's best interests. However, Mrs Whiten, who had not known she was pregnant, later complained that the abortion had blighted her life. The hearing continues. [BBC News online, 29 May ] A Canadian study has found that a significant reason for the decline in the infant mortality rate is that more women are deciding to abort unborn children found to have developmental anomalies in the womb. A study conducted by Health Canada and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that, while the overall Canadian abortion rate was stable over the last seven years, the number of children being aborted between the 20th and 21st weeks of pregnancy--when most amniocentesis tests are performed--increased almost sevenfold. [CBC News, 28 May ; LifeSite, 29 May ] An appeals court in Wisconsin has upheld the decision of a lower court to throw out a so-called wrongful life suit. The parents of a boy who was born by Caesarean section at less than 24 weeks' gestation claimed that doctors had failed to inform them that he might be disabled, and that this failure had meant that they were not given the opportunity to decide whether treatment should be withheld. In the event, the child was born with a variety of neurological disorders. The appeals court found that "in the absence of a persistent vegetative state, the right of a parent to withhold life-sustaining treatment from a child does not exist." [The Washington Times, 29 May ] A minister from the Chinese state family planning commission has admitted to the British government that abuses have occurred in its population control programme. Baroness Amos, a parliamentary under-secretary of state at the foreign and commonwealth office, told the House of Lords in a written answer yesterday that the Chinese official had told Claire Short, Britain's international development secretary, that abuses had occurred but that the culprits would be prosecuted. [House of Lords Hansard, 29 May ] The local health board in Northern Kentucky is to decide next month whether to refuse federal funding for birth control drugs and devices, including the conventional contraceptive pill, on the basis that they can work as abortifacients. Northern Kentucky Right to Life has placed a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper informing readers: "Many things denominated as 'contraceptive' are truly abortifacient--the IUD, Norplant, the so-called morning-after pill and the so-called standard birth control pill." The 29-member health board will vote on whether to refuse federal 'title X' funding for birth control on 19 June, and reports suggest that the outcome is currently too close to call. [The Cincinnati Enquirer, 26 May ] An American Nobel laureate has used a graduation ceremony to attack opponents of human cloning, comparing them to people who bomb abortion clinics. Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 1979, told participants in the ceremony that "even here in America we have religious zealots ... who try to ban research on therapeutic cloning ... and who, in extreme cases, bomb abortion clinics." [Pro-Life Infonet , 29 May]

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