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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Palliative care groups condemn pro-euthanasia campaigners over false 'dignity' label

27 January 2006

Three organisations involved with palliative care have condemned the Voluntary Euthanasia Society's decision to change its name to Dignity in Dying. In a letter to The Guardian, David Praill of Help the Hospices, Thomas Hughes-Hallett of Marie Curie Cancer Care and Eve Richardson of The National Council for Palliative Care, wrote that "the implication of this now widely publicised name is that euthanasia is the only dignified death." They added: "This is manifestly untrue and will be misleading for vulnerable patients and their families. We believe the development of excellent palliative care at the end of life in the last decade has ensured that thousands of people have experienced a dignified death." [The Guardian, 27 January]

An opinion article in The Times has criticised a retired doctor for travelling to Switzerland for help to commit suicide. Mick Hume commented that, as a doctor still in the early stages of a degenerative condition, Dr Anne Turner had the strength and knowledge to take her own life but instead "chose to stage a grisly travelling theatre of death for the world media." Mr Hume describes himself as having "no truck with the religious 'pro-life' lobby" and supporting abortion, but argued that legalising assisted suicide "can only devalue life and diminish our collective humanity." [The Times of London, 27 January]

Australians Against RU-486 are to hold a National Day of Action this Sunday against the legalisation of the abortion drug RU-486. Members of churches across the country are being encouraged to write letters to senators currently considering a change in the law, voicing their opposition. Fr Eugene Ahern, the campaign co-ordinator, quotes a description of RU-486 as 'a lethal human pesticide.' [Cathnews, 27 January]

The Guardian newspaper has run a strongly pro-abortion article on couples who make the 'agonising decision' to abort their disabled babies. [The Guardian, 26 January] Alison Davis, co-ordinator of the disability rights group No Less Human, criticised the approach taken. "This article concentrates on two such babies, one aborted for spina bifida and the other for heart problems," she explained. "The assumptions about the negative value of these babies lives is truly breathtaking. Having been born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus myself I was appalled to see that the baby with spina bifida was dismissed as 'a child who couldn't be anything.'"

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