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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 18 November 2003

18 November 2003

18 November 2003 A number of charities and campaigning organisations have come out in support of the mental incapacity bill in the letters page of The Guardian newspaper. Organisations include Age Concern, Alzheimers Society, Mind, Mencap, Down's Syndrome Association and Mental Health Foundation. [The Guardian, 13 November ] Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, commented: "As leading medico-legal academic Dr Jacqueline Laing has said, the draft Bill encourages abuse, routine and systematic neglect and deliberate killing by omission of those who cannot care for themselves. The public will be disturbed to know that leading charities have been infiltrated by the euthanasia movement, to the extent that some of these charities now officially backing moves that will legalise euthanasia by omission." [SPUC source] A woman has complained after being refused the morning after pill twice by a pharmacist who conscientiously objects from dispensing the drug. The woman, who asked not to be named, said: "I believe a pharmacist is a professional and should leave religious beliefs at home and not take them to work." A spokeswoman for Boots chemists pointed out that pharmacists who objected to dispensing the morning after pill were permitted to refer customers to another supplier. [Shropshire Star, 12 November ] A spokesman for SPUC, commented: "Religious and moral beliefs are not commodities to be put away for the convenience of customers. Pharmacists have the right, upheld by their code of ethics, to conscientiously object from dispensing drugs and devices they find morally repugnant." [SPUC source] An IVF researcher has developed a way to tell women how many years of fertility they have to prevent them finding out they have delayed having children too long. The test involves taking blood samples to measure hormones and ultrasound scans to reveal the number of developed eggs. [Bioedge, 7 November ] Australian researchers have discovered the gene that causes spina bifida in mice. Researches at Royal Melbourne Hospital predict that the gene will be identified in humans and could lead to prenatal treatment of spina bifida. [Bioedge, 7 November ] The widow of an Isle of Man euthanasia campaigner has been arrested in connection with his death. Patrick Kneen died from prostate cancer last month, having spent the last months of his life campaigning for the legalisation of euthanasia on the island. His efforts helped persuade the Manx parliament to consider new legislation to permit assisted suicide. Mrs Kneen was arrested as a result of a letter she wrote to her local newspaper about her husband's death. The letter was withheld from publication for legal reasons. [The Telegraph, 18 November ] Alison Davis, co-ordinator of the disability rights group No Less Human, commented: "I am sorry to hear that Mr Kneen has died. However, the fact that he used his last months to fight in the cause of destroying life rather than preserving it is a tragedy for him and for all vulnerable people." [SPUC source] Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke has unveiled a suicide machine built with household objects such as a jar or a sauce bottle, which people will be taught to build at workshops across Australia. He said: "We will endeavour to ensure that the only people who come and take part in these workshops are people that have a good reason to, and this will be elderly Australians" but he admitted that it would be easy for anyone to build the machine. [BBC, 17 November ] Scientists at the University of San Paulo in Brazil say that they have successfully treated spinal injuries with adult stem cells, BBC reports. The researchers took stem cells from the patients' blood and introduced them into the damaged areas. 12 out of 30 of the patients responded to electrical stimulation of their paralysed limbs. Professor Tarciscio Barros said: "Two to six months after treatment, we found that patients were showing signs of responding to tests. We still hope we may yet see improvements in the other patients too but already this is a real breakthrough." [BBC, 17 November ]

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