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Defending life
from conception to natural death


31 December 2004

31 December 2004

31 December 2004 An epidemiologist who works with the World Health Organisation has said that care for pregnant women in the area affected by Sunday's tidal wave in the Indian Ocean should be a priority. Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir of Louvain University, Belgium, made the plea in a letter to the British-based Financial Times newspaper. [Financial Times, 31 December ] A judge who recently ruled in the baby Charlotte Wyatt right-to-life case is to be given a further honour by Queen Elizabeth II. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the family division of England's high court, is being promoted from Dame Commander of the British Empire to Dame Grand Cross. [The Times, 31 December] Dame Elizabeth has ruled against life-sustaining care for severely disabled adults in a number of Bland-type cases. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, asked: "What message is being sent to the disabled when honours are given to a judge who has ruled that the intentional killing of the incapacitated is lawful?" The British Medical Journal has published a study by medics at a hospital in Dundee, Scotland, which concludes that palliative care is "not sufficiently funded to offer a serious alternative to acute hospital care for most patients." Dr Pamela Levack and colleagues evaluated information about 2,000 patients. [British Medical Journal, 1 January ] A 67-year-old Romanian academic, Ms Adriana Iliescu, is seven months' pregnant with twin girls through fertility treatment. [BBC, 29 December ] A court in Ohio has ruled that the guardian of a brain damaged one-year-old cannot decide that the child be taken off life support. It was decided that Aiden Stein's parents still had rights in the matter. The boy's father says that the infant is aware and responsive but a doctor has testified that he is not. The parents think Aiden will recover. There is dispute about how the boy came to be injured. [Guardian, 31 December ] The British government is launching a campaign to promote the donation of human gametes, and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is said to want egg donors to be paid up to £1,000 in expenses. There are concerns that, when, from April, donors can no longer remain anonymous, fewer people will offer to donate and couples will go abroad for fertility treatment. [BBC, 30 December ] The British Fertility Society said that donations had dropped since the early 1990s. [Daily Mail, 30 December ] Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "The change of rules on donor-anonymity may well make men less willing to donate sperm. But there has always been a 'shortage of eggs' - ever since IVF started. The demand for eggs for research as well as IVF treatment and the difficulties in obtaining ova mean that this shortage will persist." The husband of a woman in Florida could next month ask again for the removal of her feeding tube. Mr Michael Schiavo could make the request concerning Mrs Terri Schiavo after a court rejected her parents' request for a new trial. Mr Jeb Bush, state governor and the president's brother, wants the US supreme court to consider the matter. [Guardian, 30 December ] Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of maternal diabetes, according to a study of 4,500 women by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Maryland. [Reuters, 30 December ] The National Health Service in Glasgow, Scotland, has appointed a midwife to help the city's homeless women. Ms Margaret O'Donnell said that homeless people found it hard to keep up contact with health services. [Evening Times, 30 December ] A treatment for rheumatoid arthritis may not be as dangerous to the unborn as was previously thought. Researchers in Lyons, France, studied the administration of small doses of methotrexate, which, in large quantities, induces abortion. The team are urging women to take folate supplements before they get pregnant. [Reuters, 29 December ] Women have become pregnant after uterine artery embolisation treatment for fibroids. The treatment has been considered suitable only for women who have stopped having children. The claim is made in the results of a study of more than 500 women by Toronto University, Canada. The researchers warn that women who have had the treatment should be monitored in pregnancy for abnormal placental development. [Reuters, 29 December ] Scientists at Kyoto University, Japan, say they have used testis stem cells from mice to produce cells which are similar to embryonic stem cells. [Daily Yomiuri, 30 December ]

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