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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 7 to 15 March 2006

15 March 2006

weekly update, 7 to 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 British 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 Pope Benedict XVI has affirmed the human dignity of the disabled in a message sent in support of the Brazilian Catholic Church's Fraternity Campaign. The message said that Christian charity toward the disabled must go beyond only tenderness and compassion, and that the dignity which is an "intrinsic part" of human life, regardless of a person's circumstances or capabilities, must be respected. [Zenit, 7 March ] In a Lenten meeting with priests of his diocese of Rome, the Pope urged them to defend the family. He also spoke of the danger of a society which forgets God falling into a "culture of death", referring to the Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae. [Zenit, 2 March ] The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, has ruled that a woman may not have frozen IVF embryos implanted after her partner withdrew his consent to the procedure. Ms Natallie Evans and Mr Howard Johnston had IVF treatment when she contracted cancer, but their relationship ended. The court held that UK law denying embryos any independent right to life were not in breach of the right to life in the European Convention on Human Rights, noting that in English law "a foetus prior to the moment of birth, much less so an embryo, had no independent rights or interests." Mr Johnston says common sense has prevailed. Ms Evans hopes to appeal to the European Court's grand jury. [BBC, 7 March ] An Irish woman has started a lawsuit against her ex-husband over custody of embryos created during IVF treatment and currently in storage. The woman wants the embryos implanted in her womb, but the father argues that this would violate his ownership rights. The Irish constitution protects the right to life of unborn children, so judges will have to determine whether the embryos can be regarded as the couple's joint property, and how to uphold the embryos' right to life. [Sunday Times, 12 March ]

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