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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Australian hospital carried out abortion at 32 weeks because the unborn child had dwarfism

21 April 2006

An Australian hospital which carried out an abortion at 32 weeks because the unborn child had dwarfism is under investigation by the Medical Practitioners Board. The Royal Women's Hospital in Victoria has been ordered by the Victorian Court of Appeals to release the medical records of the woman, known as Mrs X. She had the abortion six years ago, after learning that her unborn child may have had skeletal dysplasia, which is known as dwarfism. The hospital appealed against the original ruling to disclose her records on the grounds of patient confidentiality. [The Age, 21 April]

A dramatic increase in the number of premature births may be linked to older mothers, according to doctors. A study carried out by Danish scientists found that the number of premature deliveries had increased by almost a quarter over the past decade. Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics at King's College London School of Medicine, at St Thomas's Hospital, said that one of the reasons for the increase may be the growing number of women deciding to postpone having children. [The Times, 21 April]

A Chinese hospital is being sued for RMB 7m after allegedly trying to end the life of a baby in order to save money. The Third People's Hospital in Shanghai took the baby boy, Qiqi, born in March 2003, off a life-support machine after doctors said that there was no hope of survival. His parents agreed but his father Yu Dejun says they did not know what they were agreeing to. Qiqi survived but now has impaired sight and brain damage. Tang Jinali, counsel for the parents, said: "It is a typical case, now hospitals neglect the basic right of life in the interests of pursuing money, and this case, I hope, can make the hospitals think again, and serve the public's interest." [Life News, 17 April]

The Church of Scotland could be about to reverse its position on stem-cell research to support the use of "surplus" IVF embryos rather than cloned embryos. The change in policy has been recommended by the Kirk's Society, Religion and Technology (SRT) project, which has been looking at the scientific, theological and ethical issues surrounding stem cell research. A spokesman for the SRT said, "The whole area of cloning embryos is now very problematic, ever since the South Korean scandal in which they claimed they had made substantial progress in this area, which proved to be false. It is fair to say the whole area is up in the air. We can't necessarily know what God's purpose for a particular embryo is and, in a sense, if the purposes were reproductive they would be thwarted anyway because the embryos would otherwise be destroyed [if not used for research]." [The Herald, 21 April] The majority of the people in the SRT working group, which included stem cell scientists, doctors, ethicists and theologians, concluded that "the moral status of the embryo" was not established until some time after conception. They recommended that human embryos resulting from IVF should be used in stem cell research, under a 14-day limitation. [BBC News, 21 April]

The death of an Irish woman who is said to have been helped to commit suicide by an American minister is being investigated by the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). It is alleged that Rosemary Toole Gilhooley, 49, from County Dublin was helped to die by Reverend George Exoo, a US euthanasia activist, who travelled over from America to be present at the death. The DPP has started extradition proceedings in America. [Daily Ireland, 20 April]

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