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News, 10 March 2004

10 March 2004

10 March 2004 The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that doctors breached a disabled child's human rights when they administered diamorphine against the wishes of the mother. The family of David Glass refused to accept the view of doctors that their son was dying and that intensive care was 'inappropriate'. The family was arrested when they attempted to prevent doctors administering diamorphine, fearing covert euthanasia, and then intervened to resuscitate their son. The General Medical Council stood by the doctors concerned but the European Court disagreed, though they rejected any suggestion that the doctors intended to hasten David's death. Mrs Glass stated: "The doctors had no right to try and kill David. Their approach was crass and heavy-handed. The fact that he is alive today proves how wrong they were." [BBC, 9 March , Femail, 10 March , Daily Mail, March 10] The governor of South Dakota has indicated that he will support a bill that would ban most abortions. Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota is considering a legal challenge if the revised bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt McCaulley, becomes law. Mr McCaulley said that he hoped the bill would prompt the supreme court to revisit the Roe v. Wade ruling. [The Guardian, 9 March ] A young Swedish woman has died after taking the RU-486 chemical abortion drug, LifeSiteNews.com reports. A government report stated that the unnamed woman who was seven weeks pregnant bled to death at her home 'as a direct consequence of the treatment.' The RU-486 pill causes serious complications in five to eight percent of cases and the manufacturers have reported at least 400 adverse events in the US since RU-486 was introduced there. [LifeSiteNews.com, 9 March ] The Population Research Institute has revealed cases of forced abortion in the US including a recent court case, Jane Roe II vs. Aware Women Centre for Choice. The case involved a woman who changed her mind after entering an abortion clinic. However, the abortionist called in assistants who held her down whilst he went ahead with the procedure, during which he performed an incomplete abortion and tore out a piece of her intestine. The court ruled that a woman could be forced to submit to an abortion if it was deemed necessary to protect her health. An appeal is planned. [LifeSiteNews.com, 9 March ] A bill to legalise assisted suicide in Hawaii has been approved by the Judiciary Committee, two years after a similar bill was defeated. The move is supported by groups such as American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, various 'right-to-die' organisations and Planned Parenthood of Hawaii. It is opposed by organisations including The American Cancer Society, American Centre for Law and Justice of Hawaii, Hawaii Medical Association and the Catholic Church. [Lifenews.com, 9 March ] One of the bioethicists whose term on President Bush's council on bioethics recently expired has co-authored a critique accusing the council's chairman of political bias. Elizabeth H. Blackburn accused Leon Kass of supporting adult stem cell research over embryonic stem cells and of omitting recent research that might cast doubt on the usefulness of adult stem cells. Blackburn claims that she was dismissed from the council because she opposed the pro-life stance taken on embryo research though a spokesman for the council said that her term had simply ended. [CWNews, 9 March ] A study published in the US claims that adolescents who pledge to abstain from sex are just as likely to suffer from sexually transmitted infections as those who do not, Reuters reports. The study, headed by Dr Peter Bearman of Columbia University, acknowledged that abstinence programmes were successful in delaying sexual activity and partner reduction but claimed that those who broke pledges were less likely to use contraception or seek medical advice than those who did not make pledges at all. [Reuters, 10 March ] Paul Tully of SPUC commented: "This study appears to contain obvious flaws which invalidate the reported findings. This raises the question of why researchers seem anxious to discredit abstinence programmes, which have been notably successful." [SPUC source] The US Justice Department has abandoned efforts to obtain abortion records from six abortion facilities as part of the government's defence of the partial birth abortion ban. The attempt to subpoena abortion records is part of a response to lawsuits mounted by Planned Parenthood against the new law but has been criticised on grounds of breaching medical privacy and abortion rights. Attorney General John Ashcroft had said that the records would be edited to remove all identifying information before they were passed on to lawyers. [The Guardian, 10 March ] A computer model of the womb could be used by doctors to identify the risk of premature birth, Nature reports. The virtual womb simulates uterine contractions and could allow doctors to prescribe the most appropriate drugs whilst eliminating the need for drug trials on real people. [Nature, 10 March ]

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