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News, 6 June 2003

6 June 2003

6 June 2003 More than fifty Peers are to debate the Joffe Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill in the House of Lords today. Lord Joffe's Private Members Bill, if it were to come into effect, would allow a terminally or incurably ill patient to request medical assistance to commit suicide. [, 6 June ] Yesterday, a senior figure at the Royal College of Nursing voiced her support for the bill. Karen Sanders, a nurse and lecturer who chairs the ethics forum of the RCN, offered Lord Joffe her support in a private capacity. "I feel strongly about voluntary euthanasia because I believe that competent adults who have incurable or insufferable diseases should have the right to make choices about their own lives," she said. [The Guardian, 6 June ] In an open letter to Catholic peers last week, Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff warned that the bill was an attack on the fundamental right to life and would put the lives of the sick and vulnerable at risk. [Catholic Communications Service, 25 May ] The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority has set up a system for IVF clinics to report serious errors, the BBC reports. The HFEA has been criticised after a series of blunders at clinics, such as the birth of mixed-race twins to a white couple after the wrong sperm sample was used. In response, an Incident Alert System requires clinics to report situations such as staff errors and freezer malfunctions that may cause harm to patients or embryos. Suzi Leather, who chairs the HFEA, said: 'we hope that the speed of the alert system will reduce incidents happening and all the distress that incurs.' However, experts have said that it cannot be guaranteed that mistakes will not occur. [BBC News, 6 June ] A study published in the British Medical Journal, has found that pregnant women carrying male babies eat 10% more calories than women carrying girls. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, studied the dietary intake of 244 pregnant women to determine why boys are born larger than girls. The findings suggest that testosterone secretions from the male fetus may trigger an increase in the mother's appetite. The research may also help to explain food cravings during pregnancy and the relationship between growth in the womb and the risk of certain illnesses in adult life. [The Herald, 6 June ] The body of an unborn baby boy of six months' gestation has been found in a sewage treatment plant in Northeast Pennsylvania, NEPA news reports. It was not clear whether the body was dumped at the plant or flushed down a toilet, or whether the baby died as a result of miscarriage or abortion. Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy before proceeding. [NEPA News, 5 June ] Canadian MP Svend Robinson has introduced a motion promoting abortion throughout the country. The motion calls for the introduction of abortion services in all provinces and territories and an increase in the proportion of hospitals providing abortion. Canada already has liberal abortion laws and approximately 115,000 abortions are performed annually. [LifeSite Daily News, 5 June ] More than one quarter of women smoke during pregnancy, according to a report in The Scotsman, with a similar percentage exceeding suggested alcohol limits and binge drinking. Tanith Muller, of ASH Scotland, an anti-tobacco organisation, expressed concern about the figures. She said: "we need to look at what support these women are given and make sure that they have access to information warning them of the benefits of quitting smoking during pregnancy, which include reducing the risks of cot death, making sure that their babies are fully developed and preventing miscarriages." [The Scotsman, 6 June ] An article published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons has criticised scientific and medical bias over the alleged link between abortion and breast cancer. In her article, entitled "The Abortion-Breast Cancer Link: How Politics Trumped Science and Informed Consent", the president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, Karen Malec, discusses the evidence for a link, media bias in the coverage of the debate and the opposition of pro-abortion politicians and organisations. [LifeSite Daily News, 5 June ]

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