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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 22 March 2004

22 March 2004

22 March 2004 Pope John Paul II has stated that the removal of feeding tubes from people in a 'vegetative state' is immoral. Speaking at a Vatican conference on the ethical issues surrounding the care of incapacitated patients, he said that it is degrading to call people 'vegetative' and that providing food and fluids should be considered basic care not medical intervention. [Team4news, 20 March ] The National Health Service is to pay for a couple to have a 'designer baby' to create a source of bone marrow for their sick child. Raj and Shahana Hashmi were the first couple to be allowed a 'spare parts child' by the HFEA but this is the first time the NHS has agreed to pay for one. Simon Fishel of the Centre for Assisted Reproduction in Nottingham welcomed the decision but other specialists voiced concerns. One consultant who asked not to be named said: "Parents should be having children because they want children, not because they want to create a spare parts factory for other children." [The Times of London, 21 March ] A US man serving a six-year prison sentence has failed in his legal bid for euthanasia, Denver Post reports. Timothy Stoakes claimed that he had a right to euthanasia because of his religious beliefs and that his imprisonment had reduced him to "a 'product' or 'widget' in Colorado's prison industry." [Denver Post, 19 March ] An article in the Sydney Morning Herald has criticised the Catholic establishment in Australia for its failure openly to support health minister Tony Abbott's stance against abortion. The article notes that besides making no statement in support of Mr Abbott, the bishops' website makes little mention of abortion and the Catholic Social Justice Council seek to "broaden the definition of pro-life to include all crimes against life, from violence against women to malnutrition and poverty." [SMH, 21 March ] The UK Liberal Democrat Party has endorsed the right to euthanasia at its conference. The position is now party policy but MPs will be allowed to vote against it in Parliament and it is unlikely to appear in the manifesto. [The Scotsman, 20 March ] Dana Rosemary Scallon MEP has met with Cardinal Ratzinger to discuss family and life issues within the EU. Dana has campaigned against abortion and embryo research in the European parliament and earlier this year presented 100,000 Irish signatures calling for Europe's Christian heritage to be recognised in the EU constitution. Dana was in Rome to collect one of the world's highest pro-life honours after being nominated Europe's outstanding parliamentarian by the International Federation of Catholic doctors. [SPUC source] A government sexual health advisor has told parents to talk about sex with their children more to combat teenage pregnancy. Research has shown that children who discuss sex with their parents wait longer to have sex and are less likely to get pregnant than those who receive information from other sources. [The Guardian, 21 March ] A new theory about the effects of a woman's immune system upon her unborn child could prevent thousands of miscarriages, The Times of London reports. Research by fertility specialist Hassan Shehata published in the journal Human Reproduction found that treating women with high levels of a certain white blood cell with steroids has a success rate of 80%. However, the theory that the cells are the key to infertility remains controversial and many doctors are sceptical of the treatment. [The Times of London, 21 March ] A school in Somerset is to offer pupils the morning after pill without the knowledge of their parents. The Ralph Allen School in Bath has said that the scheme will help pupils make responsible choices and bring it in line with other schools in the area. [The Bath Chronicle, 20 March ] A professor from Victoria University in the US has described pre-natal screening as 'Nazi-style eugenics.' Tanis Doe, who is herself deaf and paraplegic, stated that screening is a continuation of the eugenics practised in the UK, Canada and the US prior to the rise of Hitler. She said: "Before the Second World War there was a very robust eugenics movement in North America, in Alberta particularly. But the Nazis discredited the movement, so I think there was a move to a less direct form of eugenics." [CWN/, 19 March ]

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