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Defending life from the moment of conception

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"Girls tell me they no longer have a defence against having sex"

27 December 2006

A counsellor for the pro-life charity LIFE has commented on the high number of abortions, including repeat abortions, among teenagers (see SPUC news summary, 21 December). Michaela Aston said: "This is a failure of the sex education strategy that has been forced on girls of this age for more than 10 years... It's bad enough for teenage girls to be having one abortion, let alone repeated abortions and they are obviously not being protected against the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases... girls tell me they no longer have a defence against having sex because of the overwhelming pressure from those promoting pills and condoms." [Daily Mail, 21 December]

An Italian man with muscular dystrophy who went to court to assert his right to refuse medical treatment died on 20 December after a doctor switched off a life support machine. A court had ruled on 16 July that Piergiorgio Welby had a right to have his respirator switched off, but that, by law, doctors would have to resuscitate him. Dr Mario Riccio, who had turned off the respirator, told a news conference: "This must not be mistaken for euthanasia. It is a suspension of therapies... Refusing treatment is a right." [BBC, 21 December] The Rome diocese of the Catholic church denied Catholic funeral rites to Mr Welby. A lay funeral was held on Sunday December 24th. The church said "his will to end his life was known, as it had been repeated and publicly affirmed, in contrast to Catholic doctrine." His mother said denying him a funeral service was an "insult." [The Times 26December]

A mother who engaged in a legal battle to prevent doctors from turning off her terminally ill son's ventilator has said that she does not regret her actions. Eleanor Bacheikh's son, Mahdi, suffered from spinal muscular atrophy type 1 and could not speak or breathe and swallow unaided. However, when doctors proposed turning off Mahdi's ventilator, Mrs Bacheikh fought the decision. Mahdi lived another nine months before dying earlier this month aged two. Mrs Bacheikh is from Liverpool, but the doctors, hospital and court involved are not named in our source. [BBC, 21 December]

A pro-life group in the United States has won a court case allowing it to run advertisements which name political candidates. Wisconsin Right to Life's advertisements asking voters to petition two Democrat senators not to block President Bush's judicial nominees had previously been banned under a law which forbids corporations or other groups running advertisements which mention candidates (including current office-holders standing for re-election) by name in the run-up to any election. However, Right to Life successfully argued that their concern was with an issue of public policy, not influencing an election. The case automatically goes to the US Supreme Court for review. [Guardian, 21 December]

The British government is to devise a national programme for children and young teenagers to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer. The Department of Health is likely to get school nurses to administer the vaccine. The drug will be the most expensive vaccine on the market. Two rival versions, Gardasil, a drug made by a joint US and French venture, and Cervarix, made by the UK company GlaxoSmithKline, will vie for a £2bn annual market for the drug. American religious groups have questioned what effect giving the vaccine to 12 year olds might have on their sexual behaviour. [Daily Telegraph 26 December].

A study published by the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of 21,000 families living in the state of Utah between 1860 and 1985 found the more children couples had, the worse their health, and the more likely they were to die early, with the situation worst for women, according to the BBC. It also found that the larger the family, the more likely children were to die before the age of 18, particularly if they were among the youngest. The report does not make clear whether the study, led by Dr Dustin Penn and Dr Ken Smith, found that medical advances over the 125 year period made a difference. [BBC 26 December]

2,102 mothers and babies have been helped by the Pro-Life Initiative set up by the late Cardinal Thomas Winning, who died in 2001. Most of the expectant mothers helped by the scheme were contemplating abortion, according to Sister Roseann Reddy who runs the scheme. The Initiative celebrates its 10th anniversary in March 2007. Mothers aged from 12 to 47 from all over the country have been helped, and only two babies helped by the scheme have had to go into care. Sister Roseann said "Are there babies alive today who wouldn't be if we weren't here? Absolutely." [Scotland on Sunday 24 December]

Pregnant women in Germany are trying to put off giving birth until January 1st 2007, when a generous government aid programme takes effect, giving a financial incentive for births worth up to 25,200 euros (£17,000). The government introduced a law in September to encourage working couples to have children, and babies born on or after January 1st qualify for the new benefits. [Scotsman 26 December]

Pope Benedict XVI, during his celebration of Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome appealed for abused children around the world. He said "The child of Bethlehem directs our gaze toward all children who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn... Let us ask God to help us do our part so that the dignity of children may be respected." [The Guardian 25 December]

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