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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 22 April 2004

22 April 2004

22 April 2004 Revisions to the UK government's draft Mental Incapacity Bill have been described by SPUC today as "cosmetic changes designed to make legalised euthanasia by omission respectable." Changes to the draft bill's provisions for advanced directives were announced today by constitutional affairs minister Lord Filkin in a speech in Nottingham. [Department of Constitutional Affairs, 22 April ] Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary commented: "The assertion that it will 'remain unlawful to take a person's life' is not a change in the government's position. They have always claimed that it will remain unlawful to actively kill patients. Nor is it a change in the direction of the Bill, which is to permit (and indeed, in some cases to require) killing by withholding of basic treatment or care in certain cases." [SPUC press release, 22 April] Researchers at Tokyo University of Agriculture have produced live mice with two mothers, without the use of sperm or male chromosomes. The mice were born through parthenogenesis, fusing mature mouse eggs and eggs from newborn mice. The process involved 598 eggs and produced just two apparently healthy pups. [Financial Times, 22 April ] A baby girl died after her parents refused to let midwives intervene during a complicated home birth, The Telegraph reports. An inquest heard that Rosie Hammill was a breach delivery and became stuck inside her mother. Her parents, who are strong believers in natural birth, refused to let the midwives help with the delivery or examine the mother to check the baby's heartbeat. The baby was not breathing when she was finally born and died four days later. Her twin sister was born by emergency caesarean at Cheltenham General Hospital. The Crown Prosecution Service did not prosecute and could not find a breach of duty or negligence on the part of the midwives. [The Telegraph, 22 April ] A Catholic university will review its annual law award after it was given to a judge who struck down a state law banning partial-birth abortion. Seton Hall University has said it will investigate after criticism from the president of the university board of trustees. Archbishop John H. Myers described the award ceremony as "profoundly offensive." [The Guardian, 21 April ] The Dutch Supreme Court justice who was a major influence in the legalisation of euthanasia has died aged 87. Huib Drion sparked the euthanasia debate in the Netherlands in 1991 with his essay "Voluntary Death for Old People" in which he argued that elderly people should be able to obtain help in dying from doctors. Euthanasia was formally legalised in the Netherlands in 2002. [The Guardian, 21 April ] US Vice President Dick Cheney has re-affirmed the government's stance on abortion during a speech to the National Right to Life Committee Educational Trust Fund. He stated: "It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, male or female, black or white... all that matters is your respect for the claim of every life. To be part of this cause is to believe that every mother carrying a life, that every child waiting to be born deserves understanding." [The Guardian, 21 April ] Bishop Anthony Fisher, Auxiliary in Sydney, has told a Catholic newspaper that the public has been misled over embryo research. He said that whereas people were made to believe that human embryos were to be used to find cures for medical conditions such as Parkinson's, all the licences approved in Australia so far have gone to IVF clinics not to medical research centres. [Cathnews, 22 April ] The European Parliament is due to vote today on the De Keyser report on Human Rights (2003), Euro-Fam reports. The Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has previously rejected the report which makes the case for classing 'reproductive health' as a human right and has called upon Mrs De Keyser to make revisions. [Euro-Fam, 22 April ] An Early Day Motion has been put down in the UK parliament asking for the investigation of a late-term abortion to be taken out of the hands of the West Mercia police. Jim Dobbin MP made the call after West Mercia police claimed that Joanna Jepson had 'just picked up the case' involving the abortion of a baby with cleft palate and senior detectives described the investigation as 'political correctness gone mad.' [De Havilland, 21 April]

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