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Defending life from the moment of conception

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15 November 2004

15 November 2004

15 November 2004 A survey reported in the Guardian newspaper suggests that teenagers are becoming sexually active earlier, admit to being pressurised into becoming sexually active by friends and claim that sex education has left them unprepared for the realities of being in a sexual relationship. The report was commissioned by the Family Planning Association, which claimed that young people are 'stranded in an information wilderness.' [The Guardian, 15 November ] A man in the US has been convicted of killing his pregnant wife and their unborn baby. Scott Peterson was found guilty of first degree murder for killing his wife, Laci, and second degree murder for the killing of the child who was to be named Conner. President Bush signed a law in April giving some measure of legal protection to unborn victims of violence, saying of the case: "This little soul never saw the light, but he is loved and he is remembered. All who knew Laci Peterson have mourned two deaths and the law cannot look away and just pretend there was only one." [The Sunday Times, 14 November ] Scientists from Imperial College, London, and Hammersmith Hospital are to begin trials to treat patients with damaged livers using stem cells from their own blood. Professor Nagy Habib who is leading the research believes that the stem cells will colonise the liver, enabling it to function again. It is hoped that the therapy might one day provide an alternative to transplant surgery. [The Telegraph, 14 November ] The 10-month-old baby at the centre of a right-to-life battle has died. The High Court ruled recently that doctors treating Luke Winston-Jones could try to save his life using cardiac massage but that he should not be put on a ventilator. His mother, Ruth, described pleading with doctors to give him an adrenaline injection, stating: "I got down on my bended knees and begged and begged for Luke's life." When she wagged her finger at the doctor, security guards were called. The Royal Liverpool Children's NHS Trust stood by the doctors concerned. [The Telegraph, 14 November ] Pope John Paul II has condemned euthanasia at a Vatican conference of Catholic health workers. The Pope stated that it is 'ethically correct' to withhold burdensome and futile treatment but described euthanasia as a distortion of medical ethics. He said: "Compassion, when devoid of the willingness to confront suffering and stand by those who are suffering, puts an end to life where it aims to end pain, thus distorting the ethical statutes of medical science." [Reuters, 12 November ] The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's public consultation on issues such as sperm and egg donation has raised concerns that couples could be permitted to create designer babies, selecting characteristics such as eye and hair colour, build and intellectual capability. Current guidelines state that couples should be offered gametes or embryos from donors who are physically similar, but it has been suggested that this should change. [The Times of London, 12 November ]

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