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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 2 February 2004

2 February 2004

2 February 2004 A man has been convicted of manslaughter after killing and eating a man with his consent. Armin Meiwes defence had argued that he should be convicted of 'killing on request', a form of euthanasia carrying a shorter sentence as his victim had asked to be killed. [Reuters, 30 January ] The German case touched upon the notion of consent as a defence to homicide. During the Diane Pretty case, which was a call to allow assisted suicide, Lord Bingham commented: ""Mercy killing", as it is often called, is in law killing. If the criminal law sought to proscribe the conduct of those who assisted the suicide of the vulnerable, but exonerated those who assisted the suicide of the non-vulnerable, it could not be administered fairly and in a way which would command respect." A 46-year-old woman has given birth to her own grandchildren, the Guardian reports. The woman offered to be a surrogate mother when her daughter and son-in-law from Essex were unable to find anyone suitable. Though the procedure was carried out in India, the HFEA has said that it would not be illegal in the UK. Responding to the story, Nuala Scarisbrick of Life commented: "Once again the IVF industry has gone too far by changing the natural order of things beyond all recognition." [The Guardian, 30 January ] Four months after being told that their babies were born dead, two couples in Romania were asked to pick them up from hospital. The confusion occurred because of a procedure dating back to communism where babies born weighing less than 1000grams are not registered during the first 10 days of life and are considered to be an abortion if they die during that time. Due to a misunderstanding the couples were told that their babies, who fitted into this category and were unregistered, had died. [BMJ, 31 January ] An estimated 400,000 human embryos are in storage in the US, many thousands of them unclaimed. According to JoAnn Eiman, founder of Snowflake Frozen Embryo Adoption, "Every doctor is stressed about embryo storage growing bigger and bigger and bigger." Many couples forget that they still have frozen embryos or fail to answer correspondence from clinics. [Scripps Howard News Service, 1 February ] A group of US doctors have called upon the Food and Drug Administration to block over-the-counter sale of the morning after pill. Dr Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical Association pointed out that the effects on teenagers of the huge dose of hormones contained in the pill have not been adequately tested. He also warned that it would encourage risky sexual behaviour and that women who believe life begins at fertilisation have the right know the abortifacient quality of the drug. [, 29 January ] Americans United for Life (AUL) has released its 2004 State Report Cards, ranking US states on pro-life criteria such as informed consent, protection of unborn children against criminal acts and the regulation of abortion facilities. Louisiana came first, Vermont last, with pro-life laws enacted last year in states such as Texas, Missouri and Minnesota. [LifeSite, 29 January ] The US senate has permanently reallocated $59 million away from the UN Population Fund, C-FAM reports. The funds were withheld from UNFPA because of its involvement in coercive abortion in China and have been transferred to programmes that work to improve maternal health and combat sex trafficking. The move comes in spite of efforts by pro-abortion groups such as 'Catholics' for a Free Choice to draw attention away from UNFPA's role in China. [C-FAM, 30 January ] A woman has made medical history by giving birth to IVF twins 12 years after they were frozen at the embryo stage. Four embryos were implanted during treatment at the Hadassah University hospital in Jerusalem. One of the three surviving babies was aborted at 13 weeks. Experts say that more research should be done into the possible long term medical effects of freezing embryos for an extended length of time. [The Times, 1 February ] Scientists from Hull Royal Infirmary have found that women who stop taking the pill have to wait months for their fertility to recover. Whereas women who had been using condoms took an average of three and a half months to conceive, women who had taken the pill took over five and a half months. In women over 35, it took two and a half times as long for women who had taken the pill to conceive as women who had used condoms. [The Guardian, 31 January ] A ruling by a US federal appeals court could make it easier for people to qualify for the 1000 asylum places congress has granted to those fleeing China's coercive population control regime. The court granted asylum to Xu Ming Li and her boyfriend Xin Kui Yu, who fled China after a series of clashes with the local authorities. These included a forced gynaecological examination and threats by officials to sterilise Xin Kui Yu. [Mercury News, 30 January ] Pro-life groups in South Africa have marked the seventh anniversary of the legalisation of abortion with demonstrations and marches. Cheryllyn Dudley, MP for the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said: "While the present government congratulates itself on legislating and implementing the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act (1997) 350 000 babies have been mercilessly killed." Ms Dudley also called for pro-life doctors and health workers to be protected and for women facing crisis pregnancies to be told of the alternatives to abortion. [, 2 February ] Pope John Paul II has urged thousands of Catholics to defend human life on Italy's Pro-Life Day "not against the mothers, but together with the mothers." He also took the opportunity to praise the efforts of the pro-life movement in Italy and called upon ecclesial communities to support the cause. [Zenit, 1 February ] The Italian Bishops warned that there can be no future without children, attributing Italy's low birth rate to egotism, economic pressures and abortion. In its pro-life day message, the bishops statement warned: "If there are few children, in a society of adults and elderly, the future vanishes. To whom do we pass on what we are, what in turn our parents gave us?" [Zenit, 1 February ] The population of Dundee is expected to fall faster than anywhere else in Scotland, according to new figures that have been described as 'extremely disappointing and worrying.' The population is expected to drop from 142,000 to 123,500 by 2018, a fall of 14%. John Letford, the Lord Provost, said: "We are trying hard to make our environment an attractive one for people to stay in, but we don't know if we are succeeding in that." [Evening Telegraph, 30 January ] 'Life skills', classes that include sex education, will not be made compulsory, in spite of pressure being placed on the government by advisors on teenage pregnancy. The Independent Advisory Group had called for personal, social and health education to be a compulsory part of the curriculum but the department of education has said it wants to give teachers flexibility over the subject. [BBC, 30 January ] Kenya's only sperm bank is on a recruitment drive to find 'a regular brigade of top quality donors' according to the BBC. Professor Christine Kigondu has suggested that Kenyan soldiers make deposits before going on peacekeeping missions in case anything happened to them. [BBC, 29 January ]

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