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Defending life
from conception to natural death


14 January 2005

14 January 2005

14 January 2005 A man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter after he cut his terminally ill wife's wrists has been given a nine-month suspended sentence.

Margaret Blackburn had stomach cancer but refused medical treatment because she feared surgery and allegedly asked her husband, Brian, to kill her as part of a suicide pact.

After she had bled to death he cut his own wrists but then rang police. Judge Richard Hawkins QC told Mr Blackburn: "In my view from the facts of the case there are the exceptional circumstances necessary for me to suspend a sentence of imprisonment because it must always remain a serious matter to take someone's life."

The VES said it did not support mercy killing and claimed that allowing medically assisted euthanasia would reduce it.

[The Times of London, 14 January ] Jamaica's Medical Council has announced plans to present a policy statement to the Ministry of Health with the aim of changing the abortion law. Abortion is currently illegal in Jamaica except in cases deemed to be medical emergencies.

The Council apparently wants an abortion law modelled on that of Barbados, where abortion is permitted on grounds of preserving the mother's physical and mental health, rape, incest, disability and for social and economic reasons.

[Jamaica Gleaner, 13 January ] Police in Mombasa have uncovered the buried remains of four unborn babies and arrested a gravedigger who was preparing to bury a fifth body.

Christian and Muslim leaders urged police to act against those involved in abortion, with Sheikh Mohammed Dor and Mohammed Khalifa urging girls against seeking abortion if they become pregnant.

[AllAfrica, 13 January ] 200 US medical organisations, along with sexual and women's health groups, have demanded that the US Department of Justice change a 141-page guide on treating rape cases because the morning-after pill is not mentioned.

Other bodies such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists state that women who have been raped should be offered the morning after pill.

[British Medical Journal, 15 January ] The Italian Constitutional Court is to allow referenda on certain parts of the fertility law passed last year, BBC reports.

Prior to the passing of the law, Italy had among the most lax fertility laws in Europe, which allowed maverick doctors to carry out IVF on post-menopausal women and to claim that they had successfully cloned a baby.

The new law bans embryo screening and freezing, and gamete donation. [BBC, 13 January ]

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