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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 7 October 2004

7 October 2004

7 October 2004 British government advisers want abortions to be performed by family doctors, nurses and family planning consultants. The Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV is recommending that both chemical and surgical abortions should be carried out by such people up to 10 weeks' gestation. At present registered doctors must perform or supervise abortions, and surgical abortions are provided only in hospitals and licensed clinics. [Daily Express, 6 October] The group has also called for value added (purchase) tax on morning-after pills to be abolished. [Independent, 5 October ] A woman with severe disabilities has said that, if euthanasia had been available 19 years ago, she would have been robbed of the best years of her life. Ms Alison Davis, of SPUC's No Less Human division, had wanted to die when she was wrongly diagnosed as terminally ill, and her wish to be dead continued for some 10 years. In a letter to today's Times newspaper, Ms Davis points out how the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, now before the UK parliament, allows 14 days for patients to change their mind after requesting euthanasia. She concludes: "Would any doctor really wait [10 years] if euthanasia were legal and the patient qualified for it? I think not." [Times, 7 October ] The French government has set up a regulatory regime for human embryo research, with health and science ministers claiming that it would help produce therapies and was globally important. The decree which allows such research will be in effect for five years. [Sapa-AFP on Independent Online, 5 October ] In July the country's parliament legalised embryonic stem cell research but banned all kinds of human cloning. Some countries have allowed cloning for research but not for birth. President Bush has diverted $25 million earmarked for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) into combating human trafficking and prostitution. In 2000 Congress allowed the president to block UNFPA funding if the organisation supported groups providing abortion, and he has done so every year. UNFPA supports forced abortion as part of China's one-child policy. [LifeSite/CWN on EWTN, 5 October ] The Catholic Archbishop of St Louis, Missouri, has said that, in the absence of a pro-life candidate, Catholics can vote for the person most likely to limit abortion and similar practices. Most Rev Raymond Burke's pastoral letter tells his people to cast their vote in line with church teaching. [CNA on EWTN, 4 October ] Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, has been joined by Mr Michael J Fox, an actor who suffers from Parkinson's disease, in criticising President Bush's refusal to fund certain types of human embryo research. While campaigning in New Hampshire, Mr Kerry said that the president put extreme right-wing ideology before science. Mr Fox expressed impatience and frustration at the administration's policy. [Medical News Today, 5 October ] Governor Jeb Bush of Florida is to appeal against his state's supreme court's ruling in the matter of Mrs Terri Schiavo who is fed through a tube. Seven judges decided unanimously that a law, which required that she should be fed, was unconstitutional. [AP on StarBanner, 5 October ] There is also a dispute between Mrs Schiavo's husband and her parents over whether her feeding may be withdrawn. The Party of European Socialists is opposing the appointment of an Italian pro-life politics professor as a European Union commissioner. [LifeSite, 6 October ] It is unclear whether the party's view relates to Dr Rocco Buttiglione's views on abortion, in addition to his reported opposition to homosexual practice. SPUC has issued a request to citizens in the European Union to support Dr Buttiglione. It can be found on the web here . An increasing number of infants in America's cities and suburbs and under-weight at birth, according to the New York Academy of Medicine. Researchers think that postponing conception and/or fertility treatment may cause the problem. Technology increasingly enables preterm babies to survive. [Medical News Today, 5 October ] A British company says it can mass-produce foetal cells and wants to offer treatment to stroke patients which is derived from an aborted child's brain. ReNeuron of Surrey have performed research using human cells on rats. Our source says that the firm uniquely has millions of nerve cells. [Telegraph, 6 October ] Four out of five pregnant women take medication without getting medical advice, according to research on 14,000 mothers by Bristol University, England. The Royal College of General Practitioners (family doctors) said that expectant mothers needed to ensure that any treatment they took was safe. [Medical News Today, 6 October ] If a woman gains more weight in pregnancy than is recommended, it is claimed that she has a 40% greater likelihood of having a Caesarian section. The University of California's study of nearly 10,000 first-time mothers suggests that this is the case even if the baby is not larger than average. Normal-weight women may safely gain 35 pounds (15.9kg) while overweight mothers should only put on 25 pounds (11.3kg). [Reuters, 6 October ] Smoking in pregnancy could mean that babies suffer from colic, possibly because they have too much of the motilin hormone in their intestine. In a review of six studies published in the Pediatrics journal, Rhode Island- and Massachusetts-based researchers point out that almost half of women smokers do not give up when they are pregnant. [Reuters, 4 October ] A scientist at a British laboratory which has recently applied to clone humans has denied that embryos can be considered as persons. Dr Miodrag Stojkovic of the Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, told a public lecture that there were no ethical concerns about research on embryos whose parents had consented to their being used. [The Journal, 5 October ] Scientists in Lyons, France, have designed a childbirth simulator. The BirthSIM comprises models of a baby's head and a mother's pelvis, the latter using a pneumatic drive to cause contractions. It can record how much pressure a medical student uses to assist delivery. [New Scientist, 4 October ] Problems delivering a baby's shoulders are almost always better solved by turning the child around than by cutting the mother, according to Johns Hopkins University, Maryland. Rotating children in such difficulties reportedly makes shoulder injuries less likely, and the cutting procedure (episiotomy) can be harmful to mothers. University College Hospital, London, suggested that the Johns Hopkins study of 127 cases was not conclusive. A randomised trial was needed. [BBC, 4 October ] Home visits by nurses to mothers and their newborn babies can help prevent readmission to hospital, says a survey reported on in this month's Pediatrics. Penn State Children's Hospital found that such visits could help prevent jaundice and dehydration, which are the likeliest reasons for a baby's being taken back to hospital. [ScoutNews on MyWay, 4 October ]

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