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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 2 June 2003

2 June 2003

2 June 2003 The Miami court ruling that a disabled woman should have her six-month old child aborted and undergo sterilisation was carried out last Thursday at the Jackson Memorial Hospital. The abortion went ahead in spite of reports by Liberty Counsel that the woman had been persuaded to have the baby and a request by an Orlando woman to be made the unborn child's guardian. The woman's mother reportedly objected strongly to any suggestion that the pregnancy continue after being told by doctors that the woman's life would be in danger if the baby was carried to term. However, the judge was informed by doctors specialising in high-risk pregnancies that the baby appeared to be developing normally and that there were no medical grounds for an abortion. [www.gainesvillesun.com and Associated Press , May 30] Philip Nitschke, the prominent Australian euthanasia campaigner, has unveiled a suicide machine at a conference in Sydney organised by the group 'Exit.' Dr Nitschke claims that his machine - a plastic carbon monoxide-filled container with attached nasal tubes - will provide the terminally ill with a humane and dignified way in which to end their lives. However, opposition groups have condemned the invention as a 'blatant attack on the fundamental fabric of society'. Euthanasia was legalised in the Northern Territory in 1996 for only two years before the legislation was overturned by the federal government. [BBC, May 31 ] The Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, has joined Archbishop Peter Smith in urging peers to oppose Lord Joffe's Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill. In an open letter, Archbishop Conti warned that assisted dying is 'subversive of the implicit trust placed in the medical profession by patients. To take this step would be to open a very dangerous breach in the protective shield currently provided to the most vulnerable citizens by British law.' He also reminded peers that 'we have a fine tradition in this country of curing the sick and caring for those who are terminally ill. This great tradition finds particular expression in the hospice movement. It is in improving and enlarging our hospices, not in practising euthanasia on the old, the vulnerable and the frail, that we advance as a civilised nation.' [Catholic Communications Service, 2 June] MEP Dana Rosemary Scallon has criticised the Irish Government's decision to oppose an amendment to a European directive that would ban so-called 'therapeutic' cloning. Ms Scallon voiced dismay at the Government's stance, stating that it conflicted with Irish constitutional protection of the unborn. She was joined by Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna, who stated: 'we would have thought that the Government would have taken a very conservative view on something like this given all the moral issues involved in Ireland around an issue like this.' However, the Department of Health claimed that though the Government disagreed with reproductive cloning, it was concerned that a ban would jeopardise research into incurable diseases. [The Irish Examiner, June 2 ] A woman who recently aborted her 20-week-old unborn child after he was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome has written about her experience in The Guardian. She describes the screening procedure, her sense of disgust at having to begin the abortion process herself through the taking of a tablet and 'the ultimate betrayal' as her baby moved and kicked inside her, unaware that he was about to die. Though the feature is broadly defensive of eugenic abortion, the author goes on to describe the negative effect it has had on her life; her antipathy towards pregnant women, her sense of guilt at 'the terrible, dirty act' and her need, at the sight of a Down's child, 'to explain myself and apologise a million times over. Apologise for somehow doubting their right to be in this world.' [Guardian, May 31 ] A derelict house in the Kingston borough of London is to be transformed into flats for teenage mothers in partnership with the Richmond Churches' Housing Trust. It is hoped that the scheme, which as well as providing temporary housing will also offer young mothers information on benefit entitlement and help with developing parenting and housekeeping skills, will give teenage parents the opportunity to keep their babies and to bring them up responsibly. Margaret Rooke, head of Kingston's social services, explained, 'somebody will be here every day to help the mums out with baby. Workers will also help them deal with the anxiety many young people feel in this situation.' [The Kingston Guardian, May 30 ]

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