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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Chen Guangcheng's trial begins today

18 July 2006

The Citizens Rights Defence Network, an independent Chinese group, has sent an appeal to the Chinese parliament to prevent the imprisonment of a blind rural activist who exposed forced sterilisations and abortions carried out by local authorities in the eastern province of Shandong. Civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, whose trial is due to begin today, has been charged with the "deliberate destruction of property" and "gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic". But Mr Chen and his supporters accuse Linyi city officials of using illegal and brutal means to enforce the one-child policy. The Guardian suggests that the Chinese government is reluctant to intervene because Mr Chen has been portrayed by local officials as a tool of western critics. [The Guardian, 14 July] A SPUC spokesman said: "It is naïve to think that the Chinese Parliament could not stop the persecution of Chen Guangcheng. The brutal enforcement of the one-child forced-abortion programme is the consistent policy of Beijing."

Women are to be offered supplies of the morning-after pill in advance of need via a web-site. DrThom, a web-only service registered with the health service regulator, said it would do everything reasonable to ensure that the medication, costing £15.99, did not fall into the hands of under-age girls, but admitted that young girls would be able to get it easily. Elly Turner of Life criticised the scheme. [The Daily Telegraph, 15 July]

The implementation of the Mental Capacity Act came a step nearer today when the Government published a consultation on rules for the new Court of Protection and responses to the consultation on Lasting Powers of Attorney. The new court, which will begin operating in April 2007, will be able to make decisions about the welfare matters, including health care, of mentally incapacitated patients. The consultation will run until 6 October 2006. The consultation on Lasting Powers of Attorney ended on 14 April 2006 and 118 responses were received. [Government News Network, 17 July] The Mental Capacity Act 2005 gives statutory authority to euthanasia by omission.

A small-scale study conducted by the Trust for the Study of Adolescence on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation claims that many teenage parents in deprived areas plan to conceive their babies, often to make up for their own negative family experiences. Beverley Huges, the children's minister, deplored the study, saying of the idea that parenthood was positive for some teens, "we reject that view completely". The study was based on interviews with 51 young mothers and fathers aged 13-22 living in six deprived areas of England. Suzanne Cater wrote the report. Meanwhile, research has found that many teenage girls see having a baby as a better option than a low-paid "dead-end" job. [BBC News Online, 17 July]

The head of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has said that the law will eventually allow the creation of a human being without a man. But Suzi Leather, a Christian, said any technique should be considered at a moral level. "We need to look at whether it is necessary to use these techniques and also how their use might impact on any potential child," she said. Whilst fully endorsing embryo research and IVF, she said that most of the general public did not agree with sex selection. [The Independent, 17 July]

A woman, who is suing her doctor for telling her that the child she was carrying at seven weeks gestation was "just some blood", will have her case heard by the New Jersey State Supreme Court. The 29-year-old mother of two, who suffered from a kidney disorder, had a severe haemorrhage three weeks after the abortion. When in hospital, it is alleged a nurse told her that, "the doctor left parts of the baby in you." The law requires abortionists to tell pregnant women that abortion will end the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being. [LifeSite, 14 July]

A Washington Post Journalist has said the number of American medics filing lawsuits and complaints over religious discrimination is likely to intensify as more embryonic stem cells are used to treat disease and more states legalise physician-assisted suicide. [Washington Post, 16 July]

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