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Defending life
from conception to natural death


11 November 2005

11 November 2005

11 November 2005 Dignitas, the Swiss group that provides assisted suicide at its Zurich clinic, is being investigated following the death of a German terrorist who used false papers stating that she was terminally ill.

The 69-year-old woman was prescribed a lethal dose of drugs after she produced a false GP's report claiming that she was dying of cirrhosis of the liver.

The GP is being investigated for issuing a false document, whilst the Dignitas doctor is being investigated for causing death through negligence.

Zurich's public prosecutor said: "Switzerland is one of the only countries in Europe to have such liberal laws on euthanasia. There is probably a good reason why other nations do not have such a law, and those countries' citizens should not be allowed to travel abroad for something that is illegal in their own country. Before long the only reputation Switzerland will have is as a country to come to die in."

[The Times of London, 11 November ] A High Court judge has ruled to allow doctors not to resuscitate a woman suffering from an incurable brain disease if she stops breathing.

Eileen Doran, 31, has mitochondria cytopathy and has been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state.

However, the family questioned the diagnosis, saying that Eileen is responsive to visitors.

Mr Justice Coleridge expressed sympathy for the Doran family, who have been described as 'closely knit, loving and devoted', but stated: "Are there any advantages to this patient in this condition in attempting by the use of artificial and very invasive procedures to prolong her survival beyond that which will naturally occur? I can honestly answer that question by saying that I can think of none."

[The Independent, 11 November ] Nearly a third of Scottish women born in the early 1960s have never given birth to a child, the Scottish Herald reports.

Dr Gillian Penney, co-ordinator of the Scottish Programme for Clinical Effectiveness in Reproductive Health expressed her surprise at the high number, but the study predicted that the percentage of childless women was likely to increase.

Factors thought to contribute to this trend include women postponing motherhood to pursue careers, birth control and abortion.

[The Scottish Herald, 11 November ] An Australian woman has begun legal action against her mother's doctor for allowing her to be born 24 years ago.

Alexia Harriton is deaf, blind and has a number of other mental and physical disabilities. Her mother's legal team claim that if her mother had been diagnosed with rubella during her pregnancy and realised that her child would be born with severe disabilities, she would have had an abortion.

[The Telegraph, 11 November ] A study of a first trimester screening test for Down's Syndrome has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The test includes an ultrasound scan and a blood test, but pro-life groups have expressed concerns that more babies with disabilities will be aborted if screening is carried out early in pregnancy.

[, 10 November ] The Family Planning Association (FPA) has given evidence in the Sue Axon case, claiming that parental rights cannot interfere with a child's right to confidentiality.

Philip Havers QC who is acting on behalf of Mrs Axon, said: "I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of people in this country would support the proposition that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the best judges of a child's welfare are his or her parents. I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of people in this country would be astonished to be told that view was out of date and out of step." [BBC, 10 November ]

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