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Defending life
from conception to natural death


weekly update, 21 to 29 December

29 December 2006

Weekly Update, 21 to 29 December The Irish government has confirmed that it paid for a teenager to have an abortion overseas.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said that a girl of under 17 had been taken out of the country for an abortion.

The HSE refused to discuss details of the case but it is likely that a court order was obtained and for this to have happened it is possible that the girl may have been the victim of rape or incest.

[Irish Examiner, 28 December ] Patrick Buckley of European Life Network told SPUC: "It is completely unacceptable that any organ of the Irish State should operate outside the Constitution and the Supreme Court. The State it appears is willing to go even further than the Supreme Court by taking pregnant minors in their care abroad for abortion. In 2003 the then Minister for Health and Children Micheal Martin said that the State would pay for foreign abortions for teenagers in care. 'We cannot stop parents [taking] their children abroad for abortions. [W]hy would we put an obstacle in the way of health boards who are acting in loco parentis?' he asked."

[SPUC, 29 December ] An Irish woman is to take her fight to use her frozen embryos to the Supreme Court.

The woman, who is unnamed, separated from her husband, who then refused his permission for the woman to use the embryos, which are stored in a fertility clinic in Dublin.

A High Court ruling in November said that the frozen embryos were not protected under Ireland's constitution protecting unborn children, because they were not implanted in the womb.

The woman's lawyer, Alan Daverson, said: "My client states that it is never easy to lose litigation, especially litigation which concerns the fundamental issues at stake in this case presenting uniquely difficult questions of law, medicine and science. She is nevertheless determined to appeal so that this issue may finally be determined in the interests of her family and indeed, in the wide public interest."

[Life Site, 22 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 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 secular funeral was held on 24 December 24.

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 ] 110 members of the US House of Representatives have signed a letter calling for the removal of a government official on the grounds that he had once worked for a pregnancy crisis charity which promotes abstinence and discourages contraception..

The 107 Democrats and three Republicans object to John Keroack as head of a department for Health and Human Services (HHS) programme which includes contraceptive provision.

The HHS has previously stated that Dr Keroack will prescribe birth control as required by law, and that he did so in the past at his private practice.

[Reuters, 20 December ] The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has been criticised by a prominent stem-cell researcher.

The licence to enlist women not undergoing fertility treatment to donate eggs for research has been granted to the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

The HFEA has yet to publish its response to a recent public consultation on the issue.

Dr Stephen Minger, of King's College London, said "Although I support this research, I am flabbergasted that the licence was given before the consultation process was completed. It seems very improper. It begs the question - what is the point in having a consultation? Why should women undergo this procedure to donate material for something where we have no idea yet how efficient therapeutic cloning with human eggs is?".

The authority said that the granting of the licence would not affect the outcome of the consultation. [BBC, 21 December ]

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