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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 15 July 2004

15 July 2004

15 July 2004 A group of influential Catholics have written to a Catholic newspaper warning of the dangers inherent in the Mental Capacity bill. The letter, signed by the Master of the Guild of Catholic Doctors, five other doctors, a medical student and two barristers, one of whom is chairman of the Catholic Union, argues: "The Mental Capacity Bill permits 'slow euthanasia' a form of homicide by omission and sets up a pathway by which routine lethal injection will inevitably become desirable." John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said that the position of Catholic doctors and lawyers should cause both Catholic politicians and the bishops to 'rethink their position.' [The Catholic Herald, 16 July] A coalition of disability rights groups including National People First, British Council of Disabled People and Disability Awareness in Action are holding a meeting in Parliament on Monday 19th July to discuss the Mental Capacity Bill which they state 'has the potential to further disempower and dehumanise us.' [People First] US and Japanese researchers have turned brain cells from mice into blood vessel cells, according to a report published in the journal Nature. The finding made by scientists at the Salk Institute, California and Kumamoto University in Japan contradicts earlier fears that adult stem cells cannot truly change and simply fuse with existing cells. Bradley Wise of the National Institute on Ageing which funded the research said: "While this new finding doesn't fully answer this vital question, it keeps open the possibility that adult stem cells from different organs one day may be harnessed to help prevent and treat neurological disorders." [Reuters, 15 July ] A US House committee has voted in favour of a provision that will aid health agencies and insurers who refuse to provide abortions. The provision to a spending bill bars any of the bill's funds from going to federal, state or local agencies that act against bodies that do not provide abortions or abortion referrals. Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life said that the move would 'prevent state and local governments from forcing health care providers to participate in abortion'. [The Guardian, 15 July ] A preliminary court ruling in Brazil that permits the abortion of anencephalic babies has been challenged by the bishops' conference (CNOB). The ruling has also led to the suspension of all charges and sentences against women and doctors involved with abortions in these cases. The CNOB, backed by Attorney-General Claudio Fonteles, has called for the ruling to be revoked. [Inter Press Service News Agency, 14 July ] A UK woman has been told that her IVF treatment will be delayed indefinitely because she does not have blonde hair and blue eyes. Helen McCrave agreed to donate some of her eggs as part of her treatment at the Peninsular Centre for Reproductive Medicine and was due to begin her third cycle of treatment. However, she was told that they only wanted blonde egg donors and that she had been taken off the list. Jonathan West, a fertility specialist at the clinic said: "We have not said we cannot accept her eggs. It's just a question of who we have got on our books at any given time." [This is Plymouth, 14 July ]

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