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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 24 October 2003

24 October 2003

24 October 2003 Abortion is seen as a back-up to contraception, according to the director of SPUC in Scotland. Ian Murray was commenting in the light of the publication of figures which showed that the Lothian region had the highest number of abortions in Scotland. He said: "We have a sexual culture that is sending out a message to people saying you can have sex without the consequences ... People are saying: 'I have tried to be responsible here and therefore I'm entitled to an abortion.'" Ms Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service claimed that the stigma had gone from abortion. [Scotsman, 24 October ] The office of Governor Jeb Bush of Florida has received more than 165,000 emails about the case of Mrs Terri Schiavo, to whom food and drink was restored on Wednesday upon instructions from the governor. A Canadian woman telephoned the state's supreme court to offer to look after Mrs Schiavo in her country. [T al lahassee Democrat, 23 October ] Mr Michael Schiavo goes to court on Monday to try to get his wife's sustenance withdrawn. He says that she told him she did not want to be kept alive artificially but her family dispute this. Mr Schiavo's lawyer described Mr Schiavo as a fighter.[Scotsman, 24 October] The American Catholic bishops have welcomed the congress's approval of a ban on partial-birth abortion. Ms Gail Quinn, a spokeswoman, recalled President Bush's promise to sign the bill. [Zenit, 23 October ] A group of parents of Down's children have asserted that many medics in Britain are ignorant of what it is like to bring up a child with the syndrome. A letter in today's Independent newspaper calls for more knowledge of the condition among professionals and for greater respect for the children. The letter asks if British society wants to suggest to people with Down's that they are unwelcome. The signatories include Professor Sue Buckley, emeritus professor of psychology at Portsmouth university, Hampshire, and research director of the Down syndrome educational trust. [Independent, 24 October] In a feature article in today's Times newspaper a woman describes how two of her children died after prenatal diagnostic tests for Down's syndrome. Mrs Jane Wheatley had amniocentesis during one pregnancy which caused a blood-clot in the uterus. After chorionic villus sampling during a subsequent pregnancy a uterine infection developed, labour began at 21 weeks and the child died soon after birth. Neither child had Down's syndrome. Mrs Wheatley writes of the tests: "If the result is positive, you are offered the Godlike choice to end a life." [Times, 24 October ] On Wednesday we reported on how the UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence had recommended screening for Down's for all unborn children. The institute has pointed out that, while it wants such tests to be universally available, they should be optional. A letter to the Times suggests the institute went beyond its remit in making the recommendation. Ms Sarah Macken points out that Down's is outside the scope of clinical excellence since it is a genetic attribute rather than a disease. [Times, 24 October ] A British woman has described in a national newspaper article how she helped her brother kill himself. Ms Lesley Close is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that she removed the top from a syringe which she handed to Mr John Close for him to inject himself. She and other family members accompanied him to Switzerland where the suicide was facilitated by an organisation which has helped other Britons kill themselves. John Close had motor neurone disease. [Daily Mail, 24 October] A survey suggests that 70% of Canadians want ethical alternatives to embryo research. The Leger organisation carried out the study for LifeCanada. Parliament is considering legalising the extraction of stem cells from human embryos. An earlier poll by Pollara suggested 57% approved of the practice. [, 23 October ] The results may differ because the Leger poll offered its 1,500 respondents a choice between techniques. A Canadian MP wants the government to require doctors to give women considering abortion the full facts including information on the risks. Mr Garry Breitkreuz has tabled a motion after parliament rejected his previous call for an official study of the dangers of abortion. He listed the risks as including breast cancer, suicide, infertility, psychiatric problems, uterine perforations, pelvic inflammatory disease and premature birth which, with low birth-weight, increases the likelihood of disability such as cerebral palsy. [, 23 October ] Doctors took sperm from a man who had been deemed brain-dead though it does not appear that he had given prior consent. Joshua Garvin, a registered organ-donor, was fatally injured in a vehicle accident and his wife asked medical staff in Colorado to harvest his gametes as they removed his heart. A local sperm bank refused the material because the donor's written consent was lacking, but a Californian sperm bank agreed to co-operate. An indication on the driving licence of Mr Garvin, 24, that he was prepared to give organs did not suffice as consent for sperm donation. [AP on the Denver Channel, 22 October ] A test which measures how heavily people smoke is encouraging pregnant women to give up the habit. Birmingham university researchers found that women who took a special urine test were more likely to stop smoking or to smoke less. [Ananova, 24 October ] Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catholic church's Charter of the rights of the family. The first part of article four states: "Abortion is a direct violation of the fundamental right to life of the human being." [Zenit, 16 June ] SPUC commented: "The truth of the inviolability of human life is an eternal one and the provisions of this charter are needed more than ever. The Catholic church is not alone among many major religions in defending human life."

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