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Defending life
from conception to natural death


13 December 2004

13 December 2004

13 December 2004 Baroness Warnock has been criticised, according to the Guardian newspaper, by the charity Age Concern, after she said that she would prefer euthanasia to being a 'burden' or 'an increasing nuisance'. In an adulatory interview in The Times of London, Baroness Warnock said: "I know I am not really allowed to say it but one of the things that would motivate me is I couldn't bear hanging on and being such a burden on people." She added: "In other contexts sacrificing oneself for one's family would be considered good. I don't see what is so horrible about the motive of not wanting to be an increasing nuisance." She also said that parents should be forced to pay for the treatment of their premature babies when they were dependent on treatment for their survival. At another stage of the interview, she said: "I am not ashamed to say some lives are more worth living than others." [The Times of London, 12 December and The Guardian, 13 December ] A woman who became pregnant as a result of rape and decided to bring up the baby herself has published a book about her experience. Heather Gemmen's husband wanted her to have an abortion but, according to an interview in The Times of London, 'she couldn't bear the thought of killing the innocent by-product of a terrible crime.' The girl, now aged nine, is an accepted part of the family, through whom Mrs Gemmen says: "I have gained more than I have lost." [The Times of London, 13 December ] A Chinese doctor is coming under increased criticism for using stem cells extracted from aborted babies to perform untested transplants on human patients. Dr Huang Hongyun injects the stem cells into the brain or spine of patients with degenerative conditions and spinal cord injuries, but is unable to offer an explanation for improvements in patients' symptoms and has not carried out clinical trials of his methods. A number of westerners who have been treated by Dr Huang have died, including a 47-year-old from the US whose blood pressure soared during surgery and became unable to breathe when staff tried to clear his nose. [The Telegraph, 13 December ] A Chinese woman who was forced to undergo an abortion so that she could be executed for drug smuggling has been spared the death penalty after the incident gave rise to press criticism. Ma Weihua's pregnancy was discovered during a routine medical examination after she was arrested for transporting heroin. The abortion form records that police requested the use of a general anaesthetic 'because the patient was unwilling to co-operate' and that they 'requested forced implementation.' [The Times of London, 12 December ] A US study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has found that sexual activity among teenagers declined between 1995 and 2002. The number of sexually active girls aged 15-17 dropped from 38% in 1995 to 30%, compared with boys in the same age group where the number dropped from 43% to 31%. Tommy G. Thompson the HHS Secretary said: "There is much good news in these results. More teenagers are avoiding or postponing sexual activity which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy or emotional and societal responsibilities for which they are not prepared." [Medical News Today, 11 December ] A survey of British backpackers in Australia has caused alarm after 39% admitted having sex with the first person they had met that day. Cari Egan, who conducted the survey, blamed alcohol consumption and anonymity for encouraging casual sex and told a conference in Sydney that there was a need for health campaigns specifically targeting backpackers. [The Telegraph, 13 December ] A woman who was jailed for the attempted murder of her terminally ill mother has been released from prison after serving half of her 15-month sentence. Lesley Martin, a euthanasia campaigner who helped found Exit New Zealand, has said that she will continue to campaign for a change in the law. [BBC, 13 December ] A report published in the British Medical Journal has found that women who suffer migraines and take the Pill are up to eight times more likely to have a stroke than female migraine sufferers who do not. A spokeswoman for the Stroke Association said: "This study adds to the growing body of evidence of a link between migraine and an increased risk of ischaemic stroke, particularly in women taking oral contraceptives." Approximately one in four women in the UK suffer from migraines. [The Scotsman, 13 December ] The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has praised a new bill that prohibits discrimination against hospitals and health care providers who refuse to provide abortions. Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities said: "It is outrageous to suggest that Catholic health care providers and others with moral objections should be forced into the practice of abortion." [USCCB, 9 December ] A man has admitted killing his wife in a failed alleged suicide pact, ITV reports. Margaret Blackburn, 62, feared that she had stomach cancer but refused to seek medical help. Brian Blackburn cut her wrists followed by his own, but then dialled 999 and confessed his actions to the police. [ITV News, 13 December ]

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