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Defending life
from conception to natural death


weekly update, 19 to 26 July

26 July 2006

weekly update, 19 to 26 July Ministers from member states of the European Union have recommended that funding for research using embryonic stem cells should continue, but not for the harvesting of embryonic stem cells, which is directly destructive of the embryo. The European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik proposed the compromise, which won support from Germany, Italy and Slovenia - countries which had opposed earlier funding schemes. Austria, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovakia maintained their opposition to the proposals.. The decision must now be confirmed by the European Parliament. [BBC News, 24 July ] The Polish parliament has voted to oppose embryonic stem cell research in response to the recent decision by the European Union to fund it. The resolution, which was passed in the lower chamber, Sejm, by 341 votes to 47, stated: "Sejm of the Republic of Poland points out that those reprehensible practices (human embryo experimentation) are inconsistent with Polish law. [The destruction] of human embryos purposefully to receive stem cells is against the Polish Constitution, Chapter II, article 38, which states 'The Republic of Poland shall ensure the legal protection of the life of every human being.'" [LifeSite, 24 July] An independent inquiry is to investigate the death of an Irish woman who died while undergoing IVF treatment. Jacqueline Rushton, who was undergoing fertility treatment at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, died on January 14, 2003 aged 32 after contracting ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS), which led to Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. OHSS is a complication associated with IVF in which fluid from the bloodstream leaks into the abdominal cavity, causing it to swell and possibly affecting major organs. The family of Mrs Rushton has welcomed the inquiry, which is to be chaired by a UK specialist, Professor Alison Murdoch, of the Newcastle Fertility Centre. [Irish Independent, 25 July ] The British scientist Stephen Hawking has criticised EU states that want to ban embryonic stem cell research. He said, "I strongly oppose the move to ban stem-cell research funding from the European Union. Europe should not follow the reactionary lead of President Bush." His criticism came on the day that an attempt was made in Brussels to prevent money from the European Union's £37bn science budget being spent over the next seven years on research into human embryonic stem cells. His criticism included countries such as Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Malta, all of which want to change the way that the budget is spent. [The Independent, 24 July ] The family of an elderly British woman has told the coroner that she died a painful and terrifying death after being deliberately starved and dehydrated by a hospital doctor. Olive Knockels died in 2003 aged 91 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after suffering a suspected stroke. Doctors at the hospital allegedly decided that she would have no quality of life if she recovered and removed nutrition and hydration despite a court injunction forcing them to reinstate them. In a statement at the inquest, Ivy West, the woman's daughter, said that her mother had begged her for something to eat and drink but that the request was refused by a nurse on doctor's orders. The inquest has been adjourned. [The Times, 25 July ]

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