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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 25 February 2004

25 February 2004

25 February 2004 The UK government has said that it will amend the draft mental incapacity bill, calling it the mental capacity bill. Lord Filkin, the constitutional affairs minister, said: "This bill is not about euthanasia. It is about increasing vulnerable people's rights and their protection." [The Guardian, 25 February ] The British Medical Association has welcomed the amended version of the mental incapacity bill. Dr Michael Wilks, chairman of the BMA ethics committee, said: "They responses are good news for patients, carers and doctors. They make it extremely clear that the intention of the legislation is to promote patient choice, and to enable health professionals to support independent decision making by vulnerable adults." [BMA, 24 February ] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "No significant changes to the bill's provisions for euthanasia by omission have been agreed. This is very bad news for incapacitated patients - the ones who are at risk of death by dehydration and starvation." [SPUC source] A film showing an abortion being carried out has caused a stir after it was shown at a secondary school in Zagreb, Croatia. The footage was criticised by parents, child psychologists and other activists, though the education minister said that he would view the film to assess its suitability for schools. [Reuters, 24 February ] Guidelines to allow infertile couples to receive free IVF treatment on the NHS have been released by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). The guidelines call for infertile women between 23 and 29 years old to be offered three IVF cycles, as well as screening for chlamydia and blocked fallopian tubes. The overall cost to the NHS will be approximately £85 million annually. [Reuters, 25 February ] Liberal Democrat MPs have asked for changes in the party's conference agenda, after it emerged that the prime slots have been committed to the discussion of plastic carrier bags, relaxing the pornography laws and euthanasia. One MP said: "There are a lot of interesting things on Saturday morning when people will still be travelling to Southport, but in the afternoon the media will see us debating plastic bags, porn and killing people." Some MPs believe that the euthanasia issue is a matter of conscience and that they should be allowed a free vote if it comes up in parliament. [The Times of London, 25 February ] A six-year-old girl suffering from a rare blood disease could be treated with the umbilical cord stem cells of a Spanish baby, BBC reports. The stem cell tissue is a good though not perfect match and subject to further tests, could be transplanted next month. [BBC, 25 February ] The husband of Terri Schiavo is attempting to prevent Governor Jeb Bush from gathering evidence from seven witnesses, including family members and medical staff. Terri Schiavo has been in a coma since collapsing in 1990 and her husband Michael, who lives with another woman and has two children by her, wants her feeding-tube removed. He is suing Jeb Bush over a law he passed allowing him to intervene in the case. [, 24 February ] The US Girl Scouts have severed ties with the abortion-promoter Planned Parenthood after being deluged with emails and telephone calls of protest. The Bluebonnet Council of the Girl Scouts of America issued a statement, saying: "Girl Scouts does not provide support to Planned Parenthood, nor do we have any national collaboration or relationship with that organisation. We believe issues related to human sexuality and reproductive health are best left to families to discuss with their daughters." Planned Parenthood officials are said to be 'shocked' at the decision. [, 24 February ]

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