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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 9 July 2003

9 July 2003

9 July 2003 The deaths of the Iranian conjoined twins after pioneering surgery to separate them, has raised questions about the ethics of the operation. Ladan and Laleh Bijani, who were joined at the head, died in a Singapore hospital as surgeons attempted to separate their brains which had become fused after 29 years of sharing the same skull cavity. Now, some medical experts have criticised the motives behind allowing such risky surgery to go ahead. "There are troubling aspects about this case," said Dr Ian Kerridge, Associate Professor in bioethics at Sydney University's Center for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine. "...one of them was the statement by one of the surgeons that they found it was more difficult than they had expected. To me that sets off a little bit of an alarm bell." Nic Tonti-Filippini, an Australian medical ethicist, commented that patient consent was not sufficient in a case such as this. "The profession actually has to be satisfied that it's a safe enough procedure," he said. However, Dr Keith Goh, the head of the team of 28 specialists and 100 assistants who participated in the 52-hour operation, defended the decision to proceed. [Reuters, 9 July ] A solicitor who lost her job with a law firm after she became pregnant and subsequently suffered a miscarriage, has demanded an apology from her former employers. On Monday, Mrs Harriet Davies-Taheri was awarded £30, 000 compensation for sex discrimination and unfair dismissal after taking the Sheffield firm Proddow Mackay to an employment tribunal. "I definitely believe my baby would be alive today if this firm hadn't treated me in this way," she said. "I've seen Proddow Mackay solicitors do this to other people but it was still a shock when they did it to me." [BBC, 8 July ] A man has regained consciousness 19 years after a car crash left him comatose, CBS News reports. Terry Wallis, 39, has been cared for at the Stone County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center since 1984, though his family took him out for weekends and special occasions. Since waking on June 12, he has regained his powers of speech and memory, though the crash has left him quadriplegic. He has said that he would like to walk again for his daughter, Amber, who was born shortly before the accident. [CBS News, 9 July ] The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which has come under fire in recent months over a series of blunders in IVF clinics, has doubled its workforce from 38 in 2001-2 to 77 in 2002-3. [Hansard, 1 July ] The UK government plans to double its funding of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy from £21 million in 2002-3 to £40 million in 2004-5. [Hansard, 6 July ] The Teenage Pregnancy Unit promotes abortion and the provision of abortifacient drugs.

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