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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Parents win case to keep disabled baby alive

15 March 2006

The parents of a severely disabled baby have won him the right not to have his ventilation switched off by medical staff. Mr Justice Holman ruled in the English High Court today that evidence for the boy's quality of life was sufficient that doctors should not withdraw life support from him. The child, referred to as 'MB' in court, suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, is paralysed, and cannot swallow or breathe unaided. The judge said it would be lawful for doctors not to resuscitate the child in the case of cardiac arrest, or not to give him antibiotics if he developed certain serious infections. The solicitor for MB's parents felt vindicated by the judgement. [BBC News, 15 March]

The Filipino president has affirmed her support for policies which promote a strong family. At a mass to mark Archbishop Paciano Aniceto's 69th birthday, Mrs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said: "We are taking measures to strengthen the Filipino family. Perhaps this will be the best birthday gift I can offer you." Mrs Arroyo says she took advice from the Archbishop over the formulation of her government's population policy, and the archbishop reported that she had told him she would oppose any moves to legalise divorce or abortion. [INQ7, 13 March]

The Indian government has introduced financial incentives for couples who have daughters, CWNews reports. 5,000 rupees ($113) will be paid into an account in the name of every girl born, and parents will be able to claim the funds when their daughter reaches 18 and leaves school. The scheme is an attempt to combat sex-selective abortion, which has led to a gender imbalance in the country, with 1,000 boys to 800 girls in some regions. [CWNews, 10 March]

Catholic bishops in Connecticut are pursuing a stricter policy on the protection of human life from conception. Since January, Catholic hospitals in the state have been asked to follow the Peoria protocol, according to which doctors may only prescribe morning-after pills to rape victims if it can be determined that the patient has not ovulated. Barry Feldman, general counsel for St Francis' Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Mass., said "Catholic moral teachings allow the woman to protect herself from possible conception as a result of the assault so long as any medications administered to do so do not cause an abortion, which is contrary to Catholic moral teachings...". [Boston.Com News, 12 March]

A study by researchers at the University of Warwick, England, has found that babies with low birth weight are more likely to be abused. The study, led by Professor Nick Spencer, found that the smallest babies were more than twice as likely as the largest to be placed on the child protection register, which monitors children who have suffered, or are deemed to be at risk of, abuse. Professor Spencer said that his team was not looking for this correlation when they began their research, and suggested that one reason for the association between poor fetal growth and abuse might be that such babies were more likely to have health problems or behavioural disorders. [BBC, 15 March]

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