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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 16 June 2003

16 June 2003

16 June 2003 A reshuffle of the British government has seen the promotion to key posts of ministers who support abortion, embryo experimentation and/or euthanasia. Of particular concern to SPUC are appointments to the portfolios of health, children and international development. SPUC political spokesman Anthony Ozimic commented: "It is clear from this reshuffle that protecting the right to life of vulnerable persons - the unborn, disabled and elderly - will not be on the cabinet's programme. On the contrary, the government's preoccupation with a radical anti-life agenda is increasingly isolating Britain from its European and American neighbours on ethical issues". [SPUC, 16 June ] A high court judge in London has ordered that two girls aged four and 10 must have the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination despite their mothers' objections. The women's estranged husbands wanted inoculation to go ahead. [Scotsman, 14 June ] While it does not appear that the objections to the girls' having the injections were based on worries about how the vaccine is produced, pro-life parents are concerned that some MMR vaccines are developed with tissue from aborted babies. It is also noteworthy that Mr Justice Sumner made his decision based on his view of the children's best interests, not their wishes nor those of their parents. The US Senate's commerce science subcommittee has heard how stem cells from adults and umbilical cords can be used to treat serious disease. Dr Jean Peduzzi-Nelson of Alabama university told members that adult cells worked "as well, if not better, than" embryonic cells and were probably safer. Dr David Hess of Georgia medical college described how bone marrow was easily isolated and was not rejected by the person from whom it was taken. Another witness was a 17-year-old who had been treated for sickle-cell anaemia with unrelated umbilical cord blood cells. Senator Sam Brownback, subcommittee chairman, questioned the ethics and necessity of human embryo research. [Newsday, 12 June ] Politicians who are putting together a new coalition government for Belgium want every hospital to provide euthanasia, which was legalised there last year. Catholic hospitals are said to have refused to allow the practice. [RVi on Expatica, 13 June ] A Michigan teenager who underwent stem cell treatment to repair damaged heart tissue earlier this year is said to be doing well, according to a Reuters report. Dimitri Bonnville had stem cells harvested from his blood and infused into his heart after he suffered a heart attack. 'He is doing very well. He is going to parties, he is playing basketball an hour-and-a-half at a time - pretty much living a near-normal life for a teenager,' said Dr. Cindy Grines of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. 'He has shown progressive improvement in his heart's pump function.' [Reuters, 12 June ] An 89-year-old Connecticut man has been given a three year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to suffocating his 85-year-old wife. Morris Meyer, who is wheelchair bound and lives in a nursing home, told police that she has asked him to end her pain. Superior Court Judge Richard Damiani said: 'There is no question that you were a loving husband to your wife, but regardless of your motive, what you did was legally and morally wrong.' [Newsday, 11 June ] Pro-abortion advocates in Boston are backing a bill that would require hospital emergency rooms to make the morning after pill available to rape victims and women who have had unprotected sex. Melissa Kogut of the Massachusetts Abortion Rights Action League argues that this is a women's health issue and will reduce the number of abortions. However, pro-life groups have condemned the move. "Our hearts go out to any woman who's been raped," said Marie Sturgis of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. "At the same time, we cannot support something that could cause an abortion." The bill is currently being filed for the first time at the Statehouse. [Boston Globe, 11 June ] An MS sufferer who campaigns for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use has said that she will commit suicide after her trial in Orkney, UK. Biz Ivol was arrested two years ago amid allegations that she supplied cannabis to MS sufferers but has said that she is not afraid of the outcome of the trial. "They can't put me in jail because of the condition I'm in. They can't fine me because I haven't got any money. And I'm already a prisoner, trapped inside a body that's full of pain and doesn't work any more," she said. Her friends are said to be devastated by her decision. "She really has lost all hope," said a neighbour, Bobbie McCutcheon, "she has no interest whatsoever in being alive." [The Herald, 13 June ] Relatives of a British couple who were helped to commit suicide in Switzerland in April have expressed differing opinions on their deaths. The family of Mrs Jennifer Stokes were shocked at what happened but the brother and sisters of Mr Robert Stokes have now expressed their support. Rt Rev Christopher Herbert, the Anglican bishop in whose diocese the Stokes lived, opposed euthanasia during a House of Lords debate on Lord Joffe's Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill on the sixth of this month. [Serious About News, Luton and Dunstable, 16 June ] Folic acid could reduce the likelihood of cleft palate or lip in unborn children. Previous research has suggested that the substance protects against brain damage, Down's syndrome, leukaemia and spina bifida. The latest study is by the Institute of Child Health, London. Cleft lip and palate occurs in around one baby in 1,000 in the UK. [Journal of Medical Ethics on BBC, 14 June ] Although treatable, these conditions are grounds for abortion in Britain up till birth.

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