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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 22 May 2003

22 May 2003

22 May 2003 A lawyer has argued in the supreme court of Victoria, Australia, that the provision of food and fluid by tube is medical treatment. Mr Julian Burnside, QC, who is acting for the guardian of an unidentified 68-year-old woman from Melbourne, said that the case was not about euthanasia or mercy-killing. The law allows guardians, in this case the state's public advocate, to order the withdrawal of medical treatment. The woman's family supports the advocate's request for her feeding to be stopped. She suffers from dementia and it is said that she will not recover. Pro-life, pro-euthanasia and church groups were represented in court, where the case continues. [The Age, 21 May ] An obstetrician in Georgia, USA, has been suspended from practising because he is accused of illegal abortion. Dr Charles Rossmann is said to have given a 23-year-old woman an unspecified drug which caused her to give birth to a boy of 30 weeks' gestation whose medical condition was critical. The doctor is said to have left the woman alone in his surgery and cannot now be traced. Dr Rossmann's premises were not licensed for abortion or birth. [AccessNorthGa.com, 22 May ] During famines, better-fed women are twice as likely to conceive male children than those who are malnourished, according to a study by University College, London, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. It is suggested that bearing boys is more arduous for mothers than bearing girls, and that malnourished male babies are more likely to die young. It appears that nature therefore somehow favours a female baby if a mother's diet is inadequate. [BBC, 21 May ] In our story yesterday about EU funding for reproductive health, our spokesman emphasised the importance of nutrition and healthcare in development aid. Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids could help women avoid depression before and after childbirth. Research on more than 11,000 British women presented to the American Psychiatric Association found that consumption of fish such as herring, tuna, salmon and sardines in the third trimester of pregnancy helped mothers' mental state for the best part of a year. There have been warnings about possible mercury contamination by such food, but US health authorities' guidance allows for the weekly consumption of up to 12 ounces of varied species. Fish-oil supplements are supposedly free of mercury. [AP on CNN, 21 May ] Last Friday we reported on a survey which suggested that concerns about the effects of methyl mercury in fish on the unborn may be exaggerated or unfounded.

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