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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 25 October 2004

25 October 2004

25 October 2004 Two men have been released on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and perverting the course of justice, Channel 4 news reports. The two men were arrested as part of an investigation into Airedale General Hospital, near Keighley, West Yorkshire in which four other people have previously been arrested. A 51-year-old woman appeared in court last week, charged with the murder of three women at the hospital, the attempted murder of a fourth patient and 13 counts of unlawfully administering poison to 12 other patients. [Channel 4 News, 23 October ] A UK government-funded charity is distributing information packs to schools and colleges reassuring children that their parents do not have to know if they have an abortion. The pack, produced by the pro-abortion organisation Education for Choice, states that "doctors, nurses and other health workers have a duty NOT to give out information about you without your consent... whatever your age." [The Times of London, 23 October ] A UK mother who is fighting government guidance that allows doctors to perform abortions on underage girls without parental knowledge has explained her position in a feature article in The Times of London. Sue Axon, who had a secret abortion herself that she later regretted is being compared to Victoria Gillick who fought against giving underage girls the contraceptive Pill without parental consent. Mrs Axon said: "I, as a parent, have a right to protect my child and this guidance infringes my right." She added: "I'm passionate that people should know that when you go for an abortion that is not the end of it. You have to live with it for the rest of your life." [The Times of London, 23 October ] The UK is opposing a US drive to ban human cloning at the UN. The US is supporting a Costa Rican proposal to ban all forms of human cloning, whereas the UK supports a Belgian ban on 'reproductive' cloning which would leave the door open for human cloning for research purposes. Susan Moore, a US special adviser, told a UN legal committee last week: "The United States strongly supports a ban on all cloning of human embryos, both for reproductive and for so-called 'therapeutic', 'research' or experimental purposes." [The Times of London, 23 October ] Brazil's Supreme Federal Tribunal has ruled 7-4 against permitting abortion in cases of anencephaly. Justices Marco Aurelio o Mello and Joacquim Barosa almost came to blows during the heated debate prior to the ruling, which stated that abortion was too controversial an issue to be determined by the courts. [The Miami Herald, 23 October ] Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University have published a study showing that whilst 17% of terminally ill Oregonians consider euthanasia, only one in 1000 actually use the doctor's lethal prescription to end their lives. According to the study, those most likely to consider euthanasia are younger, white, not very religious and suffering from cancer. [, 22 October ] Rocco Buttiglione, the candidate for European Commissioner for Justice, has been attacked in The Times of London as 'plainly unfit for the post for which he is candidate' because of his Catholic convictions. Matthew Parris' highly personal attack on 'bad apples such as Proffessor Buttiglione' goes on to describe the Catholic Church's position on abortion as 'unacceptable and insulting, not only to me but also to the majority of Europeans, and the overwhelming majority of educated Europeans. I do not shrink from according special status to the educated, for they lead thought.' [The Times of London, 23 October ] In response, William Rees-Mogg described Catholic teaching on sexuality as 'an excellent guide to stable family life and the care of children' for many people and abortion as a great social evil. [The Times of London, 25 October ] John Kerry, the Democrat presidential candidate, has defended his stance on abortion by stating: "I love my church. I respect the bishops, but I respectfully disagree. My task as I see it... is not to write every doctrine into law. That is not possible or right in a pluralistic society. But my faith does give me values to live by and to apply to the decisions that I make." [The Guardian, 25 October ] Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver stated: "For Catholics to take a "pro-choice" view toward abortion contradicts our identity and makes us complicit in how the choice plays out. The "choice" in abortion always involves the choice to end the life of an unborn human being. For anyone who sees this fact clearly, neutrality, silence or private disapproval are not options. They are evils almost as grave as abortion itself. If religious believers do not advance their convictions about public morality in public debate, they are demonstrating not tolerance but cowardice." [Catholics for Bush, 22 October ] William H Frist, the US Senate Majority leader has issued a statement in response to John Kerry's comments on stem cell research. Mr Frist stated: "John Kerry showed today that as the election nears he is not interested in the facts and will say or do anything to gain him a political edge, regardless of the truth." [Medical News Today, 24 October ] A High Court judge has ruled in favour of doctors in the case of a baby boy suffering from Edward's Syndrome. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss agreed that it would not be in the baby's best interests to be ventilated if his condition deteriorates, but that he can still have cardiac massage if it becomes necessary. Lawyers for Luke Winston-Jones' mother said that the child has been given 'a fighting chance'. [Sky News, 23 October ] The Duke of Edinburgh is believed to have expressed support for a peer who is backing the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia. Baroness Flather received a letter from Prince Philip voicing his support after she sent him transcripts of a debate in the House of Lords on assisted suicide. Both Baroness Flather and a spokesman for Prince Philip refused to comment on the contents of the letter. [The Times of London, 24 October ] An advertisement made by Christopher Reeve shortly before he died has begun running in California. The ad urges voters to support funding for stem cell research, which would include the use of embryonic stem cells. Reeve claims in the advert that 'stem cells have already cured paralysis in animals', a suggestion that many scientists regard as premature. Opponents of the proposal argue that the funding would be better used to develop the state's emergency care services and that the benefits of embryonic stem cell research have been exaggerated. [The Sunday Herald, 24 October ] Supporters of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children have held pro-life demonstrations in Blackpool, Chorley and Preston. Campaigners formed human chains along roadsides to mark the anniversary of the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act. [BBC, 23 October ] In the Southwest of England, SPUC campaigners demonstrated along a busy road junction in the historic spa town of Bath. [This is Bath, 25 October ]

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