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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 14 May 2003

14 May 2003

14 May 2003 Legislators in the Isle of Man, a dependency of the British crown in the Irish sea, have agreed to consider draft legislation to legalise euthanasia. The House of Keys, the island's parliament, voted for the measure by 15 to four and mandated a five-person select committee to take evidence and report back to members. Two parliamentarians introduced the measure in response to lobbying by a man with prostate cancer who has been told that he has between two and 10 years to live. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society has welcomed the move and is urging the United Kingdom to follow suit. [Telegraph, 14 May ] The medical director of a cancer care centre has expressed concerns at proposals to legalise euthanasia in Britain, saying that resources should go to improving hospice care. Dr John Ellershaw of the Marie Curie centre, Liverpool, England, was commenting in the light of impending debates on euthanasia in the House of Lords. He warned that legalising euthanasia could encourage vulnerable people to ask to die early. A pro-euthanasia campaigner has suggested that those who oppose Lord Joffe's bill to legalise euthanasia have no experience of being with terminally ill people. [ic Cheshire, 14 May ] Many opponents of legalised euthanasia, such as Dr Ellershaw, have much direct experience of caring for the dying. Italy's national bioethics committee has advised the government against allowing research on human embryos citing ethical and practical reasons. Dr Francesco D'Agostino, the body's president, said such research was wrong because embryos were humans with rights and because embryos might be created ostensibly for fertility treatment but actually for research. 26 of the committee's 41 members voted against embryo experimentation. Ms Leticia Moratti, the minister with responsibility for research, asked for the committee's view in the light of the European Union's fourth research framework programme. [l'Avvenire on Zenit, 13 May ] A school in England for 14- to 19-year-olds will give abortifacient morning-after pills to its pupils. A doctor and nurse at Lutterworth grammar school, Leicestershire, will see students in confidence, though it is said that morning-after pills will be supplied after a health-check and consultation with the child's family doctor. The scheme will also involve the free supply of condoms. [Harborough Today, 14 May ] The British government is encouraging schemes such as the one in Lutterworth. SPUC is organising a petition to the House of Commons to express citizens' concern at the supply of abortifacient drugs and devices to girls as young as 11. Women who have abortions are at least one-and-a-half times more likely to receive hospital psychiatric treatment within 90 days than women who give birth, according to new research. Dr David Reardon's team studied medical records of more than 56,000 women in California who were receiving state-funded healthcare. As well as being more likely to need psychiatric help within the first three months, women who had had abortions remained significantly more likely to undergo such treatment during at least another four years. Dr Reardon said that many therapists would dismiss women's concerns about having had abortions. Based on his results, he conjectured that more than half a million women will have suffered from abortion-induced post-traumatic stress disorder since 1973 when abortion was made legal throughout the US. [Canadian Medical Association Journal on LifeSite, 13 May ] Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, the US president's brother, has ordered the appointment of a guardian of an unborn child whose mentally disabled 22-year-old mother was raped. Staff of the state's department for children and families had said that the move would be illegal but Mr Jerry Regier, the department's secretary, has now confirmed that he agrees with Governor Bush. The governor is described as opposing abortion. The civil liberties union says he should be ashamed of himself. [Ledger, 13 May ] Last Thursday we reported that the department for children and families had asked for a guardian for the child. A Canadian provincial judge wants special courts for young offenders whose mothers drank alcohol in pregnancy. Judge Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond described foetal alcohol syndrome as a disability. She is concerned at the lack of effective detection of the disorder and wanted Saskatchewan, her province, to imitate Manitoba which uses telephone conferences for diagnosis. Drinking in pregnancy can mean that the resulting offspring have problems with concentration and physical coordination. [canada.com, 14 May ] The UK's food standards agency has commissioned research from two universities on the possible link between consumption of caffeine in pregnancy and low birth weight. The results are due in early 2006. [HMG on Discovery Health, 14 May ] Unborn babies seem to respond to their mothers' voices and they could even be learning language in the womb. Researchers from Queen's university, Ontario, found that the heartrate of babies in Hangzhou, China, was higher when they heard their mothers' voices than when they heard other women's voices. [Psychological Science on BBC, 13 May ]

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