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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Mental Capacity Act: Government announces draft code of practice

9 March 2006

The Government has announced a draft code of practice for the Mental Capacity Act, the 2005 law which enshrines euthanasia by neglect in English law. The government has invited the public to make submissions to a consultation on the draft code until 2nd June. [Department for Constitutional Affairs, 9 March] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "The code of practice represents the nuts and bolts of the machinery of death by starvation, dehydration and neglect. Parliamentarians, church leaders and all those concerned to protect the vulnerable from intentional killing must make clear to the Government their opposition to the terms of the code of practice." SPUC has produced a guide to the Mental Capacity Act which can be ordered free of charge by emailing

A British nurse has been found guilty of manslaughter after she injected a 79-year old cancer patient at Hull Royal Infirmary with a lethal dose of a sedative. Julia Levitt said that she had Kenneth Heaton's best interests at heart when she gave him the injection. Judge Michael Mettyear, sentencing Ms Levitt to18-month's gaol, suspended for two years, described her actions as "totally appalling behaviour". [BBC News, 8 March]

A study published in New England Journal of Medicine has shown that the teen abortion rate in Texas has dropped since the enforcement of a parental notification law. Texan law requires doctors to wait 48 hours after informing a parent before carrying out an abortion on a girl under 18. Abortion rates are said to have fallen by 16% among 17-year olds, 20 percent among 16-year olds and 11% among 15-year olds since 2000, when the law took effect. At present, 35 of the 50 American States enforce laws requiring parental notification or consent for underage abortions. [Reuters, 8 March]

A law signed by South Dakota state governor Mike Rounds which bans abortion except where necessary to save the mother's life has been welcomed by Catholic bishops. Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City said that while people in South Dakota "can be justifiably proud of their efforts to restore the rights of the unborn child", legal measures are insufficient alone, and it is necessary to build a culture of life. [CNS 7 March]. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Sioux Falls said that abortion destroys a life and harms mothers. Commenting on the new law, he said "We are dedicated to promoting a culture that respects human life... There are many approaches needed to do that, and clearly this bill represents a significant effort." [Aberdeen American News, 6 March]

The Guardian newspaper has published an article criticising the "contempt for parenthood" that pervades the "manipulative consumer capitalism" of current UK culture. Madeleine Bunting argues that the 90,000 'baby gap' - that is the number of additional babies UK women would had liked to have had - is due to a powerful "anti-natalism" which sees motherhood as a "handicap" and a constraint on a person's value as a worker and consumer. [The Guardian, 7 March]

A population expert addressing the opening meeting of China's parliament - the National People's Congress - has claimed that the rich are able to evade the government's ban on couples having more than one child by paying the heavy fines imposed for having further children. Yang Kuifu was quoted as saying: "The personal credit of private business people or celebrities should be tainted if they choose to have more children." [The Scotsman, 6 March]

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