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News, 19 August 2003

19 August 2003

19 August 2003 The bishop-elect for the Isle of Man has refused to express his views on assisted suicide but has encouraged the debate on euthanasia. The Reverend Graeme Knowles, who is due to take up his post in December, said: "Our task as Christians is to have sensible debate - that is what the church is about, to enable that to happen." A bill to legalise euthanasia is expected to go before politicians later in the year. [Isle of Man Online, 18 August ] The parents of Terri Schiavo have filed an emergency motion with the Florida Supreme Court to prevent the removal of her feeding tube, less than a week before a previous delay is due to expire. The family is also seeking the help of Gov. Jeb Bush and the Attorney General Charlie Crist. Approximately 22,000 petitions have been sent to the Governor, asking him to intervene in the case. Terri Schiavo has been tube fed since she collapsed in 1993 but she receives no other life support. [LifeNews.com, 18 August ] A terminally ill doctor has become a plaintiff in Oregon's lawsuit against the US Attorney General John Ashcroft, after he issued a directive prohibiting doctors from prescribing medications covered by the federal Controlled Substances Act for assisted suicide purposes. Oregon passed the Death with Dignity Act in 1994 legalising assisted suicide. The state filed a lawsuit against Ashcroft when he issued the directive two years ago. The result of his appeal is still pending. [The Register-Guard, 17 August ] A report in the Oakland Tribune has exposed the lack of co-ordinated guidelines regarding the treatment of incapacitated elderly patients without families. The numbers of so-called "friendless incompetent" elderly and homeless patients being hospitalised is on the increase in the US and policies vary from state to state on who should make decisions regarding treatment in the absence of a next of kin. The appointment of a guardian is a lengthy process, meaning that the patient may die before its completion, and health insurance often does not cover long term care. [The Oakland Tribune, 19 August ] The recent birth of a healthy baby who developed in his mother's abdomen has once again raised the possibility of male pregnancy, Globe and Mail.com reports. Though it would not be possible in the short term due to the health risks involved such as massive internal bleeding, scientists have argued that there is no reason why an embryo could not be implanted in a man's abdomen and then delivered through surgery in the future. "Scientifically speaking, male pregnancy is possible," said Dr Vyta Senikas of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, "but I don't know how men would put up with it." [Globeandmail.com, 15 August ] As part of the series on human cloning being published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Trujillo writes that so-called therapeutic cloning is even more objectionable than reproductive cloning because it involves the creation of cloned human embryos with the specific purpose of using and then destroying them. He also encourages people to place themselves in the position of the embryo rather than the scientist when addressing the question of cloning. [LifeSite, 18 August ] Prenatal photography is a growing trend, according to an article in The Washington Post. Developments in ultrasound technology mean that clear, 3-D photographs of unborn babies can now be produced commercially at ultrasound portrait studios and are becoming increasingly popular with couples. Concerns have been expressed about the possible health risks of exposing unborn babies to ultrasound unnecessarily, but practitioners insist that it is safe. Robert Gergely, the former head of obstetrics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who now runs a sonography centre, said: "I was mesmerised by the baby's face in the womb. Right away, baby becomes real. Right away, the parents start falling in love. Having babies is all about love." [Newday.com, 19 August ]

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