News, 31 August 2004
31 August 2004
31 August 2004 750 UK Catholic priests have signed a letter to The Times of London calling on MPs to vote against the Mental Capacity Bill at the second reading. The letter is headed by Father Timothy Finigan of the newly-formed Association of Priests' for the Gospel of Life and includes the signatures of Father Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Father Aidan Nichols, Prior of Blackfriars, Cambridge. It warns that the Bill enshrines euthanasia by omission, noting the concerns of many Catholic medico-legal experts on this matter. It also points out that Pope John Paul II has defined the provision of food and fluids as basic care nor medical treatment. [The Times of London, 31 August, article and letter ] John Smeaton, SPUC's national director said: "This is a significant witness to the dangers of the Mental Capacity Bill on the part of the Catholic clergy in the UK, and a reminder of the importance of MPs making a stand by voting against the Bill at second reading." [SPUC source] A second federal judge has declared the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act unconstitutional because it did not contain an exception to protect a woman's health. US District Judge Richard C. Casey described the procedure as "gruesome, brutal, barbaric and uncivilised." Louise Melling of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project said they were 'thrilled' by the decision, though it will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court. [SFGate.com, 26 August ] Concerned Women for America condemned the ruling, stating: "This is one more disappointing setback in the legal marathon to end this heinous and unnecessary procedure. As many as 2,200 innocent babies, most nearly born, suffer death by torture each year as a result of this procedure. The pro-life majority in this country will never give up on our efforts to end this barbarism cloaked in the pretext of a legitimate surgical procedure necessary to preserve a woman's health." Jan LaRue, CWA's chief counsel added, "Martin Haskell, who invented the procedure, admitted in trial in Wisconsin that 'the D&X procedure is never medically necessary to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.' That ought to settle the matter." [CWA press release, 26 August ] A number of pro-life activists have been convicted of violating a city ordinance after refusing to leave the front of an abortion facility where they were engaged in peaceful protest. The Waco City Council adopted the ordinance in February banning any street activity, parade or demonstration during school hours, which campaigners claim violates freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble and religious liberty. The Planned Parenthood facility's executive director said of the ruling: "It increases safety in critical times in school zones. Anyone who cares about the safety of children would support it." [Associated Press, 26 August ] China has the highest caesarean rate in the world, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, with 47% of infants being delivered by this method. This figure compares with 20% a decade ago. Some factors thought to contribute to this rising trend are the belief that it is the safest method to deliver 'the one, precious offspring' permitted by the one-child policy and the desire to choose the date of the infant's birth to fit in with traditional Chinese beliefs. [Medical News Today, 27 August ] A French parliamentary committee has published a report recommending the introduction of passive euthanasia. The committee recommended that terminally ill patients be allowed to request doctors to leave them to die, but active euthanasia should remain illegal. The committee was set up after the death of Vincent Humbert, who was severely disabled after a car crash and wrote a book I Ask for the Right to Die. It recommends allowing patients to make a written request for passive euthanasia or allowing family members to make it if the patient is not conscious. [BMJ, 28 August ] Fiorella Sultana De Maria of SPUC warned: "Once intentional killing is introduced into law, euthanasia by lethal injection is only a short step away." [SPUC source] A teenager in Australia is suing his mother for crashing her car whilst pregnant, claiming negligence and breach of duty of care as a mother to her unborn child. Graham Neave has cerebral palsy and under Australian law he must sue his mother as well as the Motor Accident Commission in order to fight for compensation. Sylvia Neave crashed into a tree when she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, claiming to have fainted before her car left the road, and her baby was delivered three hours later by caesarean section. Mr Neave alleges that deprivation of oxygen-enriched blood contributed to his condition, which has resulted in speech problems and the need for day-to-day assistance. Ms Neave has accepted the need to be sued by her son as part of the legal process. Any damages awarded will be covered by the Motor Accident Commission. [World Net Daily, 26 August ] The Cardinal of Scotland has condemned a new sexual health strategy as 'state-sponsored sexual abuse' of children. Cardinal Keith O'Brien described the strategy as 'one of the biggest challenges to the morality of our nation in a generation', warning that sex education could be extended to the under-fives and that contraceptives and abortions would be made available to schoolchildren without parental knowledge. [The Guardian, 30 August ] The Scottish Parent Teacher Council responded angrily to the Cardinal's protest, saying that Church leaders should have 'kept their mouths shut' on the issue. [The Scottish Herald, 31 August ] A 79-year-old Italian man has put an advertisement in a newspaper for a family to adopt him as a 'granddad au pair.' Giorgio Angelozzi, a scholar and former teacher, is one of three million pensioners living alone in a country with one of the lowest birth rates in the world. He hopes that a family will adopt him so that he can pass on his learning to someone and be appreciated during his final years. [The Independent, 30 August ] The Portuguese authorities have refused a Dutch abortion ship permission to enter its territorial waters, warning that it will use force if necessary to protect the country's laws. Nuno Fernandes Thomaz, the Secretary of State for Sea Affairs, warned: "If the ship decides to disrespect the orders of the Portuguese government it will have to get round a navy vessel." Rebecca Gomperts, the founder of Women on Waves, threatened to take the matter to an international court, claiming that the ban violated freedom of movement between EU member states. [Yahoo News, 29 August ] Irish pro-life campaigners have welcomed new figures which show a slight decrease in the number of women travelling to Britain for abortions. More than 6000 women travel to Britain every year to have abortions but this is the second year in which there has been a decrease after a decade of rising numbers. [Breaking News, 27 August ] German doctors have grown a new jawbone in the muscle of a man's back and transplanted it into his mouth to replace the jaw he lost to cancer nine years ago. The team used stem cells from the patient's own bone marrow to grow the jaw which has enabled the man to eat solid food, though it is not yet known how the jaw will function in the future. Stan Gronthos, a stem cell expert from the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science in Adelaide, Australia who was not involved, stated that the operation had achieved its purpose of improving the man's quality of life. [CNN, 27 August ] Correction: In the news summary of 27 August, we wrongly attributed a quote on anencephaly to Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary. It was in fact written by Alison Davis, co-ordinator of the disability rights group No less Human.