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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 18 September 2003

18 September 2003

18 September 2003 Ian Brady, who is serving a life sentence for child murder, is to be granted the right to give evidence at a public hearing to declare whether or not he is insane. Brady has been tube-fed since he stopped eating in 1999 and a high court judge ruled that he was incapable of making a decision to end his life. He wants to be moved from a secure mental hospital to an ordinary prison so that he cannot be prevented from starving himself to death. [IcCheshireOnline, 18 September ] A lawsuit against a California abortionist who injured a woman during a botched abortion is to begin next month. Dr John Allen reached a settlement with Ann Marie Santana but she is pursuing her case against Dr Joseph Durante for negligence in his diagnosis and treatment after the abortion. Durante has a history of problems connected with his clinics, including being placed on probation by California's Medical Board, which he claims are the result of pro-life campaigners' efforts to close his clinics. [The Desert Sun, 16 September ] Thousands of Kenyan Christians held a silent procession in Nairobi last month, demonstrating against abortion. Fears have been raising by the Christian Medical Fellowship that the draft constitution currently being discussed may contain loopholes providing for the legalisation of abortion, though this has been denied. A recent survey found that 81% of Kenyans did not favour the legalisation of abortion but health minister Charity Ngilu has claimed that it is unfair for women to be denied legal abortion and wants a public debate on the issue. [IPSNews, 16 September ] Researchers from the University of Florida have reported successfully growing blood vessels in the eyes of mice by injecting them with adult stem cells taken from human blood. "What this study is demonstrating is the remarkable ability of stem cells that are derived from blood to reconstitute tissues in other organs," said Dr. John R. Wingard, associate director of the University of Florida's Shands Cancer Centre. "The more we learn about this, the more horizons are expanding as to clinical application." [, 17 September ] A Florida rock band has alarmed local police by claiming that a terminally ill man will commit suicide onstage during a concert next month. A spokesman for the St Petersburg police, Bill Proffitt, said that they are investigating the matter. "Obviously, the St. Petersburg police does not condone public displays of suicide," he said. [The Ledger, 17 September ] A spokesman on behalf of SPUC stated: "The authorities should move quickly to ensure either that the event is closed down given that the band has threatened to use an illegal act as entertainment or to ensure that the promised stunt does not occur. The toleration of this promise of a 'live suicide' either as a publicity stunt or an event really to be delivered, represents a further coarsening of the ethical sensitivities of a society that already tolerates the killing of the unborn." [SPUC source] A report by the House of Commons public accounts committee suggests that up to 3,500 elderly people are being kept in hospitals needlessly every day, the BBC reports. These patients are well enough to be discharged but not well enough to live at home without help, but local councils struggle to find them suitable accommodation and care. MPs have called for increased co-operation between hospitals and local authorities, more help to enable the elderly to live at home and plans to address the shortage of physiotherapists and occupational therapists. [BBC, 18 September ] Further concern about the implications for euthanasia of the British government's draft Mental Incapacity Bill have been heard in parliament. In the third oral evidence session of the parliamentary committee considering the draft Bill, Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall, a Labour peer, said yesterday that "the issue of euthanasia hangs rather uncomfortably around these issues" and that concern that the Bill's provisions for advance decisions and lasting powers of attorney "could amount to euthanasia" had been "voiced extensively by a number of groups." Baroness Knight of Collingtree, a Conservative peer, said that the committee had received an "unprecedented" number of letters concerned about the denial of feeding by tube to incapacitated patients. In a parliamentary briefing yesterday, James Bogle, a leading medical barrister, warned that under the Bill lay attorneys would have "power without responsibility" over vulnerable patients. Dr. Philip Howard, senior lecturer at St George's Hospital Medical School, London, predicted that under the draft Bill suicide notes would become legally binding advance directives. [SPUC eyewitness]

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