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Defending life
from conception to natural death


'Unacceptable' conditions for dying patients in Irish hospitals

18 April 2005

A survey commissioned by the Irish Hospice Foundation has warned that patients in Irish hospitals are dying in unacceptable conditions.

The report highlighted a lack of privacy and special facilities for dying patients, meaning that patients often die in crowded wards in the presence of patients who are traumatised by the experience.

Dr Dominic O'Brannagain, of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, said: "Everyone is entitled to a comfortable and dignified death, but the health system is not oriented to support the process of caring for people who are dying. We need space in our hospitals to allow patients to die with privacy, dignity and confidentiality.

"There is no privacy for patients and their families. Patients are slipping away with vacuum cleaners and TVs blaring in the background." [Times of London, 17 April]

Other stories:

Joanna Jepson, the Anglican curate who campaigned against the late-term abortion of a baby with cleft palate, is taking the Health Secretary to court over the legality of eugenic abortion. Babies can be aborted after 24 weeks on grounds of disability and for other reasons. Rev Jepson from Chester said: "I will continue to fight for the rights of disabled unborn babies in the later stages of pregnancy." [Daily Mail, 16 April]

An 81-year-old woman from Georgia has been transported to hospital on the request of her brother and sister after her granddaughter asked her hospice to withdraw her food and fluids. Mae Magouirk is now being cared for and receiving nutrition and hydration at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Centre. [LifeNews, 11 April]

California's Assembly Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would legalise physician-assisted suicide, based on Oregon's law. Dr Robert Miller, former president of the Association of Northern California Oncologists, said: "Physician-assisted suicide is the wrong answer to the right question. The focus should be on doing everything we can to improve care at the end of life." [Guardian, 13 April]

The Iranian parliament has approved abortion in case of disability or when the mother's life is deemed to be in danger, Yahoo News reports. Proponents of the new law cited the financial cost of raising a child with a disability as a justification for eugenic abortion, whilst opponents spoke of the important role played by people with disabilities in society. The law would require a formal request from the parents and the verdict of three specialists and the Coroner's Office. [Yahoo News, 12 April]

A London IVF specialist has warned that mistakes at IVF clinics involving children being born to the wrong parents are more frequent than is commonly thought. Dr John Parsons of King's College Hospital, London, commented: "It is easy to see that a mistake has been made when a white couple have a black baby. How many mistakes have been made with less obvious consequences? That must worry a lot of IVF couples." [Sunday Herald, 17 April]

A lawsuit has been filed by the American Centre for Law and Justice on behalf of two Illinois pharmacists after Governor Rod Blagojevich issued an emergency rule forcing pharmacists to accept and distribute the morning after pill. ACLJ has stated that the rule violates the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act which protects health care professionals from being forced to act against their conscience. [Medical News Today, 16 April]

A set of sextuplets from Missouri have celebrated their first birthday, reports. Tina and Ron Otten were told to abort one or more of the babies to improve the chances of the others being born healthy but they refused, asking doctors not to discuss it with them any further. [LifeNews, 12 April]

Nearly 1000 abortions were carried out in 2003 on babies who may have been viable outside the womb. Premature babies now have a chance of survival as early as 22 weeks, well within the legal time limit for abortion in the UK. [Times of London, 17 April]

A £300,000 study has been launched in Scotland to investigate the country's shrinking and ageing population. Scotland's population is expected to decline by approximately 10% to 4.6 million by 2042, with the number of people aged over 65 rising by 61% to 1.3 million. [Sunday Herald, 17 April]

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