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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 September 2003

17 September 2003

17 September 2003 A group supporting the British government's Mental Incapacity Bill has advocated euthanasia by omission. In an oral evidence session of the parliamentary committee considering the bill yesterday, the Making Decisions Alliance (MDA) said that a doctor who omitted to provide feeding by tube would be "let off the hook" for violating the right to life under the European Convention on Human Rights if power over tube-feeding had been given in an advance directive under the bill. The MDA also said that the omission of tube-feeding is in a patient's best interests if the patient has opted for it in preference to a "living death" or if there was no prospect of recovery. It was "very inappropriate" for persons with advanced dementia to be given tube-feeding with the sole purpose of prolonging life, as the decision should be based on the person's quality of life instead. Lord Rix, a member of the parliamentary committee, observed that learning disability and self-advocacy groups were "very suspicious of the bill". Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary who witnessed the evidence session, commented: "It is even clearer from today's evidence that both the bill and its leading supporters are pro-euthanasia." The committee will continue to gather oral evidence this month and next month and will report to both houses of parliament in November. A pro-abortion activist has described a move to restrict abortion in Russia as an attack on women's rights. Last month the government approved a measure which when implemented will reduce the number of grounds for abortion and cut the time-limit to 12 weeks' gestation. Women will no longer be be offered an abortion on grounds of poverty and divorce. The criticism came from Ms Inga Grebesheva of the country's Family Planning Association. Russia's population is declining and this could be a reason for the government's move.The number of abortions has fallen recently. Last month we reported on how a Russian parliamentarian planned to introduce a law to give unborn children the same rights as born ones. While the government's measure has been passed, it has yet to be implemented. Pro-abortion campaigners are calling for a sex-education programme in schools. [BBC, 16 September ] The legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee has commented on the partial birth abortion ban which is to be voted on by the US senate this week. Mr Douglas Johnson said: "President Bush, 70% of the public and four supreme court justices say there is no constitutional right to deliver most of a living baby and then puncture her head with ... scissors." A 2000 supreme court ruling had established such a right but Mr Johnson hoped that the majority opinion in the court would shift in favour of the ban. [National Right to Life Committee on Capitol Advantage, 15 September ]

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