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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 31 May 2002

31 May 2002

31 May 2002 Scientists believe that an injection of magnesium sulphate could prevent thousands of cases of eclampsia in pregnant women, which is life-threatening for mothers and unborn children. One in 10 pregnant women suffer from pre-eclampsia, which is normally characterised by high blood pressure and sometimes necessitates premature delivery. Women whose condition deteriorates into full eclampsia suffer dangerous fits. A major international study led by Dr Leila Duley of Oxford University, England, found that women with pre-eclampsia who were given an injection of magnesium sulphate halved their risk of developing full eclampsia. [BBC, 30 May ] Germany's justice minister has called for a Europe-wide debate on euthanasia. Ms Herta Däubler-Gmelin, who is firmly against euthanasia, said that the focus should be on improving palliative care and helping the terminally ill to "die in dignity and without suffering". She observed that laws to legalise euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium were contrary to the European Union's charter on fundamental rights. [LifeSite, 30 May ] The people of Switzerland will vote on Sunday in a referendum on whether to legalise abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Opinion polls suggest that the referendum proposal will be passed. Under the new law, women requesting abortions would be required to consult their doctor but the decision on whether to proceed would be their own. Abortion is widely tolerated in Switzerland and about 12,000 unborn children are aborted every year, though in the Catholic central cantons such as Nidwalden doctors refuse to carry out the procedure. It is reported that if the referendum proposal is passed, hospitals in all Swiss cantons would be required to offer abortions. [Swissinfo, 31 May ] The federal government of Australia is providing 43.5 million Australian dollars [nearly £17 million] in funding for stem cell research in the state of Victoria. John Howard, the Australian prime minister, announced that the Biotechnology Centre of Excellence funding would go to the Centre for Stem Cells and Tissue Repair headed by Professor Trounson at Monash University, Melbourne. The money, to which a further $10 million will be added by Victoria's government, will be used for research on both adult and embryonic stem cells. Three other research projects, none of which involved work on stem cells, made unsuccessful bids for the funding. [The Age, 31 May] Britain's General Medical Council has found Reginald Dixon, a retired consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, guilty of serious professional misconduct but has not struck him off the medical register. As reported in yesterday's news digest, Mr Dixon performed an abortion on a woman without her consent when he discovered that she was pregnant in the course of a hysterectomy operation. [BBC, 30 May ]

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