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Defending life
from conception to natural death


BBC presenter in public euthanasia pact

16 August 2006

A BBC Radio presenter has made public her plans for a formal euthanasia pact with two friends. Ms Jenni Murray, presenter of Woman's Hour is to sign an agreement with Sally Feldman, a former editor of Woman's Hour, and Jane Wilton that, if they become incapacitated, the others will kill them. Ms Murray is to speak on a Channel 5 television documentary, Don't Get Me Started. Channel 5 said that Ms Murray does not want to look after her mother who suffers from Parkinson's disease - and whose carer is her husband. She therefore plans to end her life if she herself becomes a burden. The TV channel said "Jenni is angry that, having fought so hard to become liberated and independent, women are now being trapped into caring for dependent parents". [The Telegraph, 14 August]

A US Assistant Secretary of State has asked China to release a leading human rights advocate from custody. Ms Ellen Sauerbrey, in charge of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration has asked Chinese officials to release Mr Chen Guangcheng who has been campaigning against China's one-child policy for many years. Recently he sought to bring a class action lawsuit against the Chinese Government for infringement of human rights. Ms Sauerbrey said: "For China's own reputation, ... our hope is just that if we keep a focus on the issue, that China will recognize that it is in their best interest to release this gentleman from jail". [15 August, Medical News Today]

A Scottish woman is planning to fly to a euthanasia clinic in continental Europe if her condition worsens. Ms Gloria Thomson, 53, who has Huntington's disease, wrote to the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament to ask him to bring legislation to make assisted suicide legal. He replied that there were no plans to change the law. Ms Thomson said: "I was really disappointed by the reaction of the executive. It is all right them putting blinkers on and saying 'life at any cost', but if they had to watch their families going through these things, I am sure they would change their minds". [16 August, The Herald]

A study in the American Journal of Public Health (August 2006) has asserted that medical institutions affiliated to religious bodies are less likely to prescribe morning-after pills. The study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, found that, in seven out of nine cases, institutions affiliated to religious bodies were less likely to prescribe the drug. Dr Linda Prine, lead researcher, added: "To us the real take-home message is, this medication needs to be over the counter, because physicians are not doing a good job of getting it out there." [15 August, Reuters]

Mrs Melinda Gates, wife of billionaire Bill Gates, attended the 16th Annual International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada. Mrs Gates, without naming any institutions, said: "If you oppose the distribution of condoms, something is more important to you than saving lives." Mrs Gates has been working closely with her husband on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which was created to tackle worldwide humanitarian problems. [15 August, The Globe and Mail] Former US president Bill Clinton told the same conference that programmes that promote only abstinence, not condom use, delay first-sex but lead to lower levels of condom use when those involved became sexually active. This was refuted by researcher John Jemmott from the University of Waterloo, Canada, who led a recent study which suggests that abstinence-only programmes are more effective than safer sex programmes, and that they do not discourage contraceptive sex later on . The study was conducted in Pennsylvania. Mr Jemmott said: "There aren't any studies that show that children are less likely to use condoms as a result of an abstinence intervention. I've looked in the literature, there are no studies that show that," [15 August, National Post] (Our source does not give publication information on the Jemmott study.)

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