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Defending life from the moment of conception

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UK prisoner allowed to starve himself to death

27 February 2006

The Prison Service has allowed a prisoner to starve himself to death. Terry Rodgers, who was awaiting trial for murder, died after conducting a hunger strike in Lincoln jail. A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "The principle is that artificial nutrition and hydration - force-feeding, in other words - is a medical treatment so all the principles that apply to any medical treatment apply here. The judgment has to be: is the person in sound mind? If they are in sound mind and refusing treatment, we cannot force them to be artificially fed." [The Guardian, 27 February] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "It could be argued that the Prison Service's failure to feed Mr Rodgers amounts to material complicity in homicide, at least ethically, if not legally. Both the ethical and legal boundaries against euthanasia and suicide have been breached by years of corrupted thinking now enshrined in the Mental Capacity Act."

It is reported that the condition of toddler Charlotte Wyatt has worsened. Charlotte is reportedly in a serious but stable condition in hospital following a viral lung infection. Charlotte's medical treatment has been the focus of recurrent legal battles since her premature birth two years ago, her parents fighting a court ruling allowing doctors to withhold life-saving emergency treatment. [BBC, 27 February]

Pro-life activists have criticised the decision by an American Catholic diocese to allow two pro-abortion politicians to sponsor a charity event on church premises. Richard Malone, the diocese's bishop, defended his decision, saying that the charity, which helps low-income families heat their homes, was supported by the diocese. Paul Madore, who organised the campaign against the bishop's decision, said: ''Pro-life Catholics have the responsibility to denounce evil and to hold the bishop accountable for failing to do the same. It's gotten to the point where ordinary Catholic faithful need to tell the clergy the difference between right and wrong." [, 27 February] Writing in a newspaper article, Catholic bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, has expressed sympathy for the argument that support for a right to abortion is a heresy, saying: "The teaching of the Church in the area of life is clear and unequivocal. Human life must be respected and protected from conception to natural death." [Catholic Sentinel, Oregon, 17 February]

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