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Defending life from the moment of conception

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16 March 2005

16 March 2005

16 March 2005 Two doctors who performed a late term abortion on a baby with a cleft palate will not face criminal charges, BBC reports.

The Crown Prosecution Service said that they were satisfied that the doctors had acted in good faith. Joanna Jepson, the Anglican curate who instigated the judicial review, argued that the abortion constituted an unlawful killing. A spokesman for Abortion Rights welcomed the decision, describing the case as "a hook for the anti-abortion lobby to get doctors prosecuted for doing their job."

Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary said: "Clearly the baby who died in this case has suffered an injustice and it appears this will not be redressed."

[BBC, 16 March ] In a press release, John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, stated: "Abortion of a baby on the grounds that the child has a cleft palate is lethal discrimination against disabled people, as is any abortion on grounds of disability. We are taking legal advice on this matter. On the face of it, the appropriate legislation under which to take action would be the Human Rights Act, and we are exploring this further."

[SPUC press release ] The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland has issued a statement detailing key issues for Catholic voters to consider at the election, the first being the right to life. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, president of the Bishops' Conference, said: "More than six million abortions have been carried out in the United Kingdom since the passing of the Abortion Act. They represent a senseless waste of human life and an attack on vast numbers of humans at their most defenceless. As the truth of this appalling practice dawns on more and more people, I urge them to quiz their prospective candidates on the issue and demand that it is placed at the top of the political agenda."

[Scottish Catholic Media Office, 15 March ] A second woman has had her menstrual cycle restored after an ovarian transplant at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, The Times of London reports.

The success appears to back-up the view that the mother of Tamara Touirat, who became pregnant after a similar operation last year, achieved pregnancy as a result of the surgery rather than regaining her fertility spontaneously following cancer treatment.

The second patient became infertile after undergoing radiotherapy to treat sickle-cell anaemia.

Ovarian tissue was removed and frozen prior to treatment and then re-implanted. [The Times, 16 March ] A UK IVF expert has warned that plans to increase entitlement to IVF on the National Health Service could lead to long waiting lists.

Simon Fishel said at the HFEA conference in London that there would be "overburdened NHS facilities, long waiting lists and a small number of high-quality expensive private centres." Demand for IVF could rise by 80% in England.

[The Guardian, 16 March ] A regional newspaper has reported that small private IVF clinics could be forced to close if plans to allow free IVF treatment on the NHS go ahead.

[This is Plymouth, 15 March ] Ian Wilmut, the UK scientist who was recently granted a licence to clone human embryos has received Germany's top research award worth 100,000 euros.

The decision to grant Professor Wilmut the Ehrlich award was greeted with protests and criticism in Germany from politicians, doctors, the German Research Foundation and church groups.

The doctors' organisation Marburger Bund said in a statement that it is "more than strange when a British scientist whose cloning experiments would be punished here in Germany is rewarded with German tax money."

[The Scientist, 15 March ] The UK's Independent newspaper has noted that medical and public opinion is moving in the direction of reducing the upper time limit for abortion, particularly since the publication of 4D images showing unborn babies at 12 weeks opening their eyes, moving and smiling in the womb.

Peter Bowen Simpkins, a consultant obstetrician said: "I can't speak for every hospital but late abortion is not a very pleasant affair. They are mostly done in the private sector. Many doctors and nurses don't do abortions at all."

[The Independent, 16 March ] Bioedge has reported that Russian clinics are offering injections of stem cells taken from embryos and aborted babies that are useless and potentially dangerous, to people seeking beauty treatment and miracle cures for terminal illnesses. One 40-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis has paid $20,000 for embryonic stem cell injections.

[Bioedge, 13 March ] A bill that could help Terri Schiavo is being considered by the Florida Legislature.

The proposal would stop the removal of a feeding tube unless a patient had signed a living will opposing artificial nutrition and hydration. Terri Schiavo's tube feeding is due to be removed on Friday.

[St Petersburg Times, 15 March ] A Florida-based campaigning organisation, Justice Coalition, has called upon Governor Jeb Bush to prevent Terri Schiavo from being starved to death and to begin an investigation into the cause of her collapse in 1990.

A bone scan after her collapse suggested that Terri may have been subjected to physical abuse.

Ted Hires, president of Justice Coalition, reminded a rally that Michael Schiavo had prevented his wife from receiving most medical treatment and any rehabilitative treatment. [, 14 March ]

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