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Defending life from the moment of conception

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7 October 2005

7 October 2005

7 October 2005 An Italian man who was in a coma for two years after a traffic accident has recovered consciousness.

Salvatore Crisafulli told reporters "The doctors said that I wasn't conscious, but I understood everything and I cried in desperation".

The news coincided with the publication by an Italian national bioethics committee of guidelines stating that incapacitated patients should be given normal medical care, including food and water.

The committee's president emphasised that nutrition was not a medical act, and likened it to feeding a newborn with a bottle when it could not be nursed by its mother.

[ 5 October ] The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority has given its support to a proposal to offer free or discounted IVF treatment to women who donate their eggs.

Dr. Michael Wilks, chairman of the British Medical Association ethics committee, said the BMA could not back the scheme because of the danger that it would place 'unacceptable pressure' on women who could not otherwise afford IVF cycles to become donors.

[Daily Telegraph, 7 October ] The vast majority of respondents to a British Medical Journal debate on assisted suicide are against the practice, writes Birte Twisselman in the BMJ.

The Editor's Choice question posed a week ago asked for views on the BMA's 'neutral' stance on the issue, which was overwhelmingly rejected by nearly 100 respondents.

Reasons cited included the breakdown of trust in doctors and fear of pressure on vulnerable patients to request euthanasia.

Responses in favour of assisted suicide were 'in single figures'.

[British Medical Journal, 8 October ] A Chinese human rights activist who revealed a scandal concerning up to 7,000 cases of forced abortion, has been beaten and left on a street by local officials in Shandong province.

Jerome Cohen, an American lawyer teaching in Beijing who had attempted to contact Chen Guangcheng said that the authorities had effectively imprisoned him in his house and had cut off telephone lines.

A Financial Times reporter making an enquiry about the case was told it was 'none of his business'.

[LifeNews, 5 October ] Stem Cell Sciences, the Edinburgh University spin-out company which has pioneered human cloning and carries out human embryonic stem cell research, has signed a £2.5m deal with US group Chemicon.

The SCS chief executive said 'This agreement marks the beginning of our roll-out of a range of superior-performance cell culture media products for mouse and human stem cell research needs'.

The embryonic stem cell growth media market is said to be worth £20m.

[The Herald, 7 October ] Trials of the RU-486 abortion drug have been resumed in Turin, Italy, having been suspended after health concerns.

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said that RU-486 would undermine an Italian law which states that abortion should not be used as a form of contraception., and commented: 'The common roots of contraception and abortion are ever more clearly in evidence...One more time, science is put in the service of death.' [ 6 October ]

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