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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 24 February 2003

24 February 2003

24 February 2003 A pro-life campaigner has today presented a petition to the Scottish parliament urging it to ensure that women who are considering abortion receive full written information about the risks of the procedure and possible long-term dangers to mothers' physical and mental health. The petition is in the name of Ms Jane MacMaster of Inverness and has the support of Scotland's main pro-life groups and the Catholic church. Ian Murray, director of SPUC Scotland, pointed out that 10% of women who had abortions suffered psychological trauma. Women did not get enough information to make a proper decision. They needed to know what their unborn baby could feel and do at its current stage of development. Although Scottish law on abortion is made in London, the Edinburgh parliament and executive decide on hospital procedures, including how women are treated when seeking abortion. [Scottish Daily Mail, 24 February] President Chirac of France has called for a worldwide ban on cloning but does not appear to have changed his government's policy in favour of embryo research which could include work on cloned humans. Mr Chirac told his country's national ethics committee that some scientists were "reviving eugenicist fantasies" and criticised tissue and organ trafficking. While the president called for an international bioethical convention, he is not reported as having called for a ban on all cloning. Clonaid, which has claimed to have cloned children who have been born, has links with France. [BBC, 23 February ] The Nicaraguan government says it will prosecute anyone who helped with an abortion performed on a nine-year-old rape victim on Thursday. The government medical board had ruled that the girl faced as many risks if she had an abortion as if she did not. Exceptions to the country's ban on abortion include a risk to the mother's life and sexual abuse. The Catholic church had offered to look after the baby. [AP on ABC, 21 February , and last Thursday's summary ] Friday's cloning debate in the Canadian parliament has been postponed till this week. Very little notice was given of the debate's initial scheduling. The current version of the Assisted Human Reproduction bill bans some types of cloning but would permit DNA recombinant germline transfer, mitochondria transfer and pro-nuclei nuclear transfer. Two amendments to the bill would outlaw all cloning and embryo experimentation. Motions 13 and 17 have been proposed by Mr Paul Szabo and Mr Jason Kenney respectively. [LifeSite, 21 February , and Friday's summary ] A health authority in west London is to ask patients to specify if they want to be treated and/or tube-fed if they succumb to conditions including confinement to a wheelchair and blindness. Forms issued by Hammersmith Hospitals trust will list types of illness and disability as well as medical treatments and special feeding arrangements. Patients will be asked to specify what is to be done in each case and will sign the forms in front of witnesses. It is reported that such forms will take precedence over relatives' wishes and will be invoked if the patient cannot make decisions. Listed conditions also include advanced dementia, cancer, confinement to bed after a stroke and double incontinence. Treatments also include antibiotics, artificial ventilation, being on a drip, heart resuscitation and invasive surgery. [Telegraph, 23 February ] Some of the conditions are not terminal and some of the treatments are not major. Feeding by tube is not medical treatment but the provision of sustenance. Adult stem cells could be used to repair damage to the heart, according to tests on 30 patients in Germany. Professor Andreas Zeiher of Frankfurt found that damaged hearts pumped more blood after stem cells were put in blocked arteries by balloon angioplasty. Stem cells seem to grow into cells of the same type as those around them. A study of more than 300 patients throughout Europe is now planned. [Times, 24 February ]

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