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Defending life from the moment of conception

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UK doctor dies at Dignitas clinic

24 January 2006

A UK doctor has died in Zurich with the aid of the assisted suicide organisation Dignitas, BBC reports. Dr Anne Turner, 66, a retired family planning expert, had the degenerative disease supranuclear palsy and claimed she attempted suicide with drugs before but failed. In an interview with the BBC before she travelled to Switzerland, she said: "Doctors should be able to help people to die. I always quote the fact that I had a cat and I had him put down because he was riddled with cancer, but we cannot do that with humans at all now." The Anglican Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, expressed regret at Dr Turner's actions and said it was not always right to accede to every request, pointing to the positive aspects of relationships in the final phase of life. [BBC, 24 January]

A woman who fought a legal campaign for parents to be informed before an abortion is performed on an underage girl lost her case in the High Court in London yesterday. Mr Justice Silber told Ms Sue Axon of Manchester that insisting that parents be informed might encourage girls to seek abortion from unauthorised sources. The judge found in favour of the secretary of state for health, whose 2004 guidance on confidentiality in giving sexual health advice to under-16s was supported in court by the Family Planning Association. Ms Axon said she does not intend to appeal against the decision. [Sky News, 23 January & SPUC eye witness] Paul Tully, SPUC's General Secretary warned in a press release that the ruling would leave parents angry and confused. "The demands from the pro-abortion lobby that it should be allowed to provide young teenagers with abortions secretly (keeping GPs as well as parents in the dark) shows how brazen it has become," he said. "Mr Silber's judgment will encourage the pro-abortion lobby to become more vehement in its demands. His inclusion of contentious statements, such as the claim that a 'right to abortion' exists in English law, is disturbing. Parliament's decision in 1967 to legalise abortion only in specific situations remains the law." [SPUC press release, 23 January]

Over 100,000 people took part in the March for Life in Washington on Monday, to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Near Congress, pro-life speakers and members of Congress addressed the crowd, including Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey. President Bush left a message of support for protesters. In San Francisco, more than 15,000 pro-lifers took part in a march, 6,000 in St Paul, Minnesota and 1,000 attended a march in South Carolina. [, 23 January]
The widower of Diane Pretty has been named patron of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society as it changes its name to Dignity in Dying. Mrs Pretty, who died of motor neurone disease, lost a legal battle for the right to have her life ended by her husband. Deborah Annetts, the Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying expressed her delight that Brian Pretty will be a patron of the group. [BBC, 23 January]

The disgraced Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk has been offered a position by the cloning cult Clonaid, reports. Clonaid is linked to the Raelian Movement, which believes that its members came from aliens and believes cloning to be the first step towards eternal life. According to Reuters, a spokesman for the company stated: "We at Clonaid believe that Dr Hwang has cloned human embryos and has the knowledge to develop stem cell lines." [, 19 January]

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