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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 November 2002

4 November 2002

4 November 2002 It is reported that a terminally ill cancer-sufferer has become the first person from Britain to take his own life at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. The 77-year-old man was given a barbiturate by staff at Dignitas in Zurich, which he then swallowed in an apartment rented by the organisation. Assisting in a suicide is an offence in the UK and the Observer newspaper reports that the man's children could now face prosecution because they accompanied him to the clinic. Dignitas claims to have helped 134 people to end their lives and 14 Britons are currently on their books. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society reacted to the news by calling for assisted suicide to be allowed in Britain to prevent "death tourism". [Observer, 3 November ] An English high court judge has ruled that Leeds General Infirmary can be identified as the hospital which botched an IVF treatment cycle last year with the result that a white woman unexpectedly gave birth to black twins. Tests revealed that the white woman was the biological mother of the twins, although they had been fertilised with the wrong man's sperm. Recent mix-ups at IVF clinics have raised concerns that staff are failing to act with sufficient care but Dr Simon Fischel, an inspector of IVF clinics for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, defended IVF clinic workers by insisting that they were all aware that "they are carrying a new human life in their hands". A spokesman for SPUC pointed out that human lives brought into being at IVF clinics were treated with so little respect that only a tiny minority survived to birth. [BBC and SPUC, 4 November] Thousands of Catholic priests in the US have signed a statement identifying abortion as a key issue for voters. The statement on political responsibility also reminds public officials that they must not support "direct attacks on innocent human life". Fr Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, said: "This is just the beginning of a massive effort to mobilise Christians as never before to bring an end to abortion in this nation, and to declare that those who tolerate abortion are not worthy of public office." [Pro-Life Infonet , 4 November]

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