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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 2 March 2004

2 March 2004

2 March 2004 The supreme court of California has ruled that a Catholic charity must provide contraceptives under its health insurance plan for employees. The American Civil Liberties Union described the 6-1 ruling as "a great victory for Californian women and reproductive freedom". However, the one judge who opposed the ruling stated: "Here we are dealing with an intentional, purposeful intrusion into a religious organisation's expression of its religious tenets and sense of mission." [BBC, 2 March ] The cancer charity Marie Curie Cancer Care is campaigning for the terminally ill to be allowed to die at home rather than hospital, the Herald reports. A recent survey found that 64% would like to die at home if they were terminally ill, but only a quarter of cancer patients do due to poor palliative care funding. John Reid, the health secretary, said: "We are committed to continuing to improve palliative care and to ensure it's available to all those who need it, wherever they choose to receive it." [The Herald, 2 March ] Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow has attacked Scotland's proposed sexual health strategy, which includes plans to make abortion more widely available and to allow school nurses to give children advice about abortion without parental knowledge. Archbishop Conti said: "There is a danger that on the basis of this document the executive will address only the medical aspects of the problem and ignore the much more important underlying moral questions. If so we will undoubtedly have a continued rise in the sorry statistic of sexual ill-health in the community." [The Herald, 2 March ] Swiss officials are moving to ensure that assisted suicides, including those from so-called suicide tourists, are carried out by qualified staff. New proposals include requiring staff to pass tests on various methods of causing death and increasing tax for suicide clinics to cover the costs of assisted suicide such as police and medical reports. [Scotland on Sunday, 29 February ] Harvard University plans to open a centre specialising in embryonic stem cell research, reports. Some are suggesting that the proposal is a reaction to the US government's decision in 2001 against permitting federal funding for new embryonic stem cell research. Dr George Q. Daley, associate professor at Harvard Medical School stated: "Harvard has the resources, Harvard has the breadth, and, frankly, Harvard has the responsibility to be taking up the slack that the government is leaving." [, 29 February ]

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