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Defending life
from conception to natural death


20 December 2004

20 December 2004

20 December 2004 Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Cardiff, has commented upon his understanding with the Lord Chancellor regarding an amendment to the Mental Capacity Bill. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the Archbishop says: "Last Tuesday, during a rather frenetic parliamentary debate, and after many months of discussions with Government ministers, the Lord Chancellor gave me a crucial undertaking to amend the Bill and insert a clause that will make it clear that it does not authorise any act or omission of medical treatment done with the intent to kill." [Sunday Telegraph, 20 December ] Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, commented: "Back in March Lord Filkin gave a similar commitment on behalf of the Government to Archbishop Smith to exclude euthanasia from the Bill, but it resulted only in the ineffective clause 58. It is most important that the Lord Chancellor is pressed to ensure that this time serious amendments are drafted and tabled." The Glasgow Royal Infirmary plans to set up a centre to create 'designer babies' for parents carrying inherited genetic conditions. The Infirmary has applied for funding from the Scottish Executive to carry out pre-implantation genetic diagnosis which involves screening embryos and discarding those with genetic defects. The proposed centre was welcomed by a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, but Ian Murray, Director of SPUC Scotland said that the technique "has no therapeutic value and amounts to eugenics." He added: "It does nothing for disabled people, it just kills people who have disabilities." [The Scotsman, 19 December ] An unborn baby has survived after being cut from its mother's womb by a woman who faked her own pregnancy and paraded the child as her own. The child's real mother, Bobbie Joe Stinnet from Missouri, was murdered after arranging in an internet chat room to meet her alleged killer, Lisa Montgomery, in person. Mrs Montgomery has been arrested for murder and kidnap. [The Times, 20 December ]The Cardinal of England and Wales Archbishop of Westminster has called for a national bioethics committee to be set up to scrutinise scientific developments in areas such as embryology and genetics. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who described the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority as 'not an adequate body', has apparently discussed his proposals with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi. The Cardinal said: "The committee might sometimes come to conclusions that offended the Catholic Church's view of the sanctity of human life. But at least people would know how those conclusions had been reached." [The Telegraph, 20 December ] Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, commented: "The Cardinal rightly notes that such a statutory bioethics body might reach conclusions which offend against the sanctity of human life. SPUC's major concern is that any such body appointed by Parliament in the UK is likely to be dominated by individuals who are committed to legalised abortion, euthanasia, IVF and embryo research." Ruth Kelly, the new Education Secretary, is facing pressure over sex education in schools. Mrs Kelly, a Catholic and mother of four, opposes abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research and has been asked to clarify her position on contraception and family planning. Some reports have gone as far as to use her alleged links to Opus Dei against her. [The Telegraph, 20 December and The Times, 19 December ]More than 500 gynaecologists have discussed the high rate of maternal mortality in Africa at an international conference in Benin. The conference was organised by the African Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics and considered factors such as poor hygiene, the spread of infectious diseases and birth complications which contribute to Africa having the highest rate of childbirth-related death in the world. The World Health Organisation recently launched a campaign to reduce childbirth and abortion-related deaths in developing countries. [Medical News Today, 19 December ] The need to 'reduce abortion-related deaths' has been used in the past as a euphemism for introducing legal abortion into countries or facilitating greater access to abortion rather than eliminating the causes of abortion. Lesley Martin, who was recently released from prison after serving half her sentence for attempted murder, has apparently said that she would do it all over again, Serious About News claims. The voluntary euthanasia campaigner pledged to renew her campaign for "decent legislation" in the New Year. [Serious About News, 19 December ] A man has been convicted in Bristol Crown Court of killing his ex-girlfriend's unborn baby. Nycoma Edwards punched Reanna Lewis in the stomach after she refused to have their child aborted. He has pleaded guilty to "using an instrument with intent to procure a miscarriage". The charge falls under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which was originally designed to outlaw abortion. [This Is Bristol, 18 December ] German doctors have used adult stem cells extracted from fat to treat skull damage in what is thought to be the first successful use of fat stem cells to grow bone. Dr. Hans-Peter Howaldt of the Justus-Liebig-University Medical School performed the surgery on a seven-year-old girl whose skull was too badly damaged to be treated with bone grafts. It was reported in the December issue of the Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery. [My Way News, 17 December ]SPUC has welcomed today's announcement by His Holiness Pope John Paul II that Cardinal Clemens August von Galen is to be beatified. Count von Galen, known as "The Lion of Munster", was a German bishop whose heroic defence of the sanctity of human life caused Adolf Hitler to halt the Nazi euthanasia programme. [CathNews, 20 December ] John Smeaton, SPUC national director, commented: "Cardinal von Galen is a model of fearless opposition to euthanasia, and we thank the Holy Father for honouring such heroic pro-life witness." [SPUC media release, 20 December]

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