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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 April 2003

16 April 2003

16 April 2003 The Swiss authorities could be challenged over the legality of the assisted suicide of a British couple in Zurich at the beginning of this month [reported yesterday ]. Mr Andrew Selous, the member of parliament of the late Mr and Mrs Robert Stokes, says he will ask the British government to make an approach. He believes that Swiss law does not allow for able-bodied people to be helped to kill themselves. The Stokes, aged 59 and 53, were ill but not dying. [PA on the Scotsman, 16 April ] Some Swiss doctors are reportedly angry at the suicide, which took place in a flat with the help of an organisation which has helped some 150 people to kill themselves. Professor Oswald Oelz of the Triemli hospital, Zurich, said that patients like Mr and Mrs Stokes could lead "more or less happy lives" if properly treated. He was unsure if they had been offered palliative care. [BBC, 15 April ] In the light of the case of Mr and Mrs Stokes, the Voluntary Euthanasia Society wants Britain to pass laws to stop so-called suicide tourism. The society suggests that the couple were not told of the alternatives available to them and has accused the government of neglecting vulnerable people. [Irish Examiner, 16 April ] The society has campaigned for the legalisation of assisted suicide. A staff member who raised concerns about the circumstances of the death of a patient in a Colorado nursing home has lost her job. Ms Karmon Babcock, a nursing assistant, told the authorities that, despite a previously-stated request for resuscitation, Ms Barbara Busch Endres, 67, was not revived after a cardiac arrest and choked to death on her vomit. A state enquiry confirmed Ms Babcock's account of events and found that medical records were allegedly destroyed. Ms Endres was disabled and campaigners fear that she therefore received inferior treatment at Terrace Heights Care Center, Boulder. [LifeSite, 15 April ] A British local authority has been empowered take a currently unborn baby into care at birth after the parents' high court challenge failed. Mr Justice Munby said that councils such as Gloucestershire, the authority in this case, should allow daily contact by parents in such circumstances and let mothers breastfeed. The unidentified mother's children are in care and the father's behaviour, both proven and alleged, may also have contributed to the council fearing that the baby would be at risk. [Guardian, 16 April ]

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