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Defending life
from conception to natural death


10 January 2005

10 January 2005

10 January 2005 The UK's upper house of parliament is today considering a government bill which would sanction euthanasia by neglect.

The House of Lords is holding its second reading debate on the Mental Capacity Bill.

[Times, 10 January ] This stage involves discussion of the bill's principles.

Amendments are not tabled, and the house may follow custom and agree to approve the bill's progress to its next stage by acclaim rather than a vote.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) has requested $28million in its latest press report for aid to people affected by the tsunami. Among other things, this money will be used to re-establish "basic reproductive health care services".

The UNPFA has not said directly that it will provide contraceptives or abortion aids, but according to the UNPFA's "Reproductive Health in Emergency Situations" manual, it is normal procedure to distribute "Reproductive health kits" to victims of natural disasters.

These kits contain condoms, abortion-inducing drugs such as the morning after pill and portable abortion kits.

[C-Fam , 7 January] Pregnant women are among the priority groups to be helped in a $180 million, six-month UN World Food Programme aid initiative to help survivors of the 26 December Indian Ocean tidal wave.

[Breaking News, 8 January ] An inquiry commissioned by the Royal Dutch Medical Association has concluded that doctors can help patients to die even if they are not ill if they are "suffering through living".

This contradicts a recent Supreme Court decision, which declared that a patient must have a certifiable physical or mental condition if their lives are to be terminated.

The Dutch euthanasia law states that a person must be suffering "hopelessly and unbearably", which the report says can be applied to any suffering, not necessarily a recognisable physical or mental condition.

However, Henk Jochemsen, director of the anti-euthanasia Lindeboom Institute for Medical Ethics, said that the report is dangerous because it implies that "we as a society should say to people who feel their life has lost meaning: right you had better go away."

[British Medical Journal, 7 January ] President Bush is facing opposition from abortion advocates after nominating a pro-life White House legal counsel for the post of Attorney General, according to LifeSite.

NARAL Pro Choice America objected that Mr Alberto Gonzalez is encouraging the President to choose only pro-life advocates to be nominated to the federal courts and said that they have "grave concerns about Mr Gonzalez' view on a woman's right to choose."

Political commentators say that his nomination is likely to be approved.

[, 7 January ] China's 1.3 billionth baby was reportedly born last week in Beijing.

The Chinese government used the occasion to promote the one child policy, saying that if it had not been for its family planning campaign, China would have reached 1.3 billion inhabitants four years earlier.

US State Department officials have described the birth control program as harshly coercive.

The baby's parents celebrated and the father said: "I am the happiest guy in the world and my boy will be blessed all his life".

[The Guardian, 6 January ] The only country in the Americas which forbids in vitro fertilisation is under pressure to allow it.

A doctor and 11 other complainants want Costa Rica to overturn a March 2000 court ruling based on the country's pro-life constitution.

The campaigners are taking their government to a pan-American human rights body.

The Center for Reproductive Rights of New York are supporting the move.

[LifeSite, 7 January ] The parents of Terri Schiavo, who is due to have her feeding tube removed in a matter of days, have appealed to the court to rescind the order allowing her estranged husband to have the tube removed. Attorneys for Mr and Mrs Schindler have filed the motion, saying that Terri has been denied the right of every American to be represented by a lawyer.

[, 6 January ] Islamic nations have been asked to support the use of human cloning for research purposes amid pressure from more than 60 nations worldwide to prohibit all forms of such experimentation.

The Islamic Organisation for Medical Sciences (IOMS) prepared a resolution at a conference in Cairo last month allowing scientists to carry out destructive 'therapeutic' cloning but banning human cloning for reproductive purposes.

No decision has yet been taken on allowing cloning for research purposes.

The issue has sparked controversy in traditionally pro-life Islamic nations and a decision will have significant consequences for the debate at the United Nations.

[, 6 January ] An Indonesian woman who survived five days afloat in the Indian Ocean after the tsunami was found to be still pregnant.

Malawati, 20, whose husband is missing, was overjoyed when she was told that her unborn child was alive and well: "I am very glad, very happy". Doctors were amazed that she and the child had managed to survive.

[BBC, 6 January ] Women in Scotland as old as 40 could receive state-funded in vitro fertilisation if a proposal from the country's executive is approved.

The current limit is 38 and, under the plan, couples could have as many as five cycles of private fertility treatment while remaining on the waiting list for National Health Service IVF.

[Scotsman, 10 January ] Mao Hengfeng, a Chinese woman imprisoned in a labour camp for campaigning against China's one child policy, has reportedly had her sentence extended by another three months.

She lost her job after becoming pregnant with her second child, was assigned to psychiatric wards and coerced into an abortion. Her sentence was increased by Shanghai authorities despite protests from human rights groups.

[, 6 January ] Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, Germany, has compared abortion to the Nazi holocaust in a sermon delivered last week.

Green and Social Democrat politicians, and the country's Central Council of Jews, protested.

cardinal's office defended the comparison, which was also made with Stalin's crimes.

[LifeSite, 7 January ] There is a higher risk of infection among women who have caesarean sections than was previously thought, according to Health Protection Scotland.

A fifth of mothers who have caesareans become infected, it is claimed.

It appears that hospitals are not aware of infections which are only detected after the women have gone home and been treated by their family doctors.

[Scotland on Sunday, 9 January ] Doctors hope to spare children brain damage by monitoring their bodies' electrical activity during birth.

Practitioners at the Medical College of Georgia, USA, use Swedish-made machines to monitor ST segment activity for signs of distress.

The college's Dr Lawrence Devoe said that the umbilical cord, brain and heart function needed to be conserved "almost at all costs".

[Medical News Today, 9 January ] An American government study suggests that births to couples undergoing assisted reproduction decline once women reach their mid-30s, falling to just four percent over the age of 42.

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control research also shows that the number of babies born in the USA after assisted reproduction rose from more than 40,000 in 2001 to 45,000 the year after.

The latter figure resulted from more than 115,000 treatment attempts. [Reuters, 7 January ] Germans are going to the Czech Republic and Poland for IVF because it is cheaper there. [Independent on Sunday, 9 January ]

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