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Defending life
from conception to natural death


weekly update, 3 to 9 May

9 May 2006

weekly update, 3 to 9 May The leader of the Anglican communion will oppose Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill in the House of Lords on Friday. Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, says that compassion for the seriously ill: "... must not be an excuse for sleepwalking into a situation where the ordinary building blocks of trust ... in the whole legal fabric of our society can be abandoned". The Care Not Killing Alliance will deliver a 25,000-signature petition to 10 Downing Street on Friday, when disabled-rights activists will also launch Not Dead Yet to campaign against euthanasia. [Sunday Times, 7 May ] The Catholic Bishop of Nottingham and the Anglican Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham have issued a joint statement opposing Lord Joffe's bill. Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon and Rt Rev George Cassidy wrote: "While we understand the motive behind this Bill is the relief of suffering, we believe that its principles are fundamentally opposed to the preservation of the sanctity of human life, a cornerstone of our beliefs as Christians, and an approach shared by many others from other faith groups as well as those without religious belief." [The Church of England Newspaper, 5 May ] Dr Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the Commonwealth, wrote in Saturday's Times: "The Jewish tradition, going back many centuries, is strongly opposed to such acts. Life is sacred. It is God's gift, not ours. It is the physician's responsibility to heal, not harm, even if the patient requests it." [Times, 6 May ] An opinion poll commissioned by Care Not Killing suggests that the passage of the Joffe bill could put people under pressure to kill themselves. Some two thirds of the 1,000 respondents to the CommunicateResearch telephone survey thought the law would influence patients in that way, while around three quarters believed doctors would be under pressure to bring about the end of patients' lives. [Sunday Telegraph, 7 May ] A man from Wales who had a tumour on his spine is opposing the bill. Hospice treatment on Mr David Williams meant that the cancer went into remission. He says he might have considered assisted suicide had it been legal, but he is pleased he survived so that he could look after his children after he was subsequently widowed. Mr David Cameron MP, the leader of the Conservative party, has said he will oppose the bill. [Observer, 7 May ] The doctor who performed IVF for a 62-year-old British woman has defended his actions. Dr Severino Antinori of Rome has said: "The question of [Dr Patricia Rashbrook's] age is irrelevant. It is her biological age ... that counts." [This is Staffordshire, 5 May ] Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: "[C]onsumer society wants absolutely everything, and never stops to think that a child is not a product. [Dr Rashbrook] is being selfish and sometimes greater love is saying no. [icWales, 5 May ] A man has been arrested and questioned by British police after he arranged for his mother to commit suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich, Switzerland. Mr Stefan Sliwinski travelled with Mrs Valerie Sliwinski, of Essex, who had cancer and multiple sclerosis. He is charged with assisting suicide and is on bail until August. [Mirror, 8 May ] Women going for IVF who agree to donate half of their eggs could get the £2,500 treatment free, according to an offer from the London Women's Clinic in Cardiff. In some cases the clinic deals with women over 50. [icWales, 5 May ] More than 20 IVF babies are born to women over 50 in Britain annually. [Guardian, 8 May ] Scotland's state health service is funding IVF for lesbian couples and single women. [The Sunday Times, 7 May ] The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has given its approval for a couple to select IVF embryos whose umbilical cord might be used in therapy for their 20-month-old daughter. Mr and Mrs Charlie Mariethoz of Leicester are raising £40,000 for treatment for Charlotte Mariethoz who has diamond blackfan anaemia. [This is Leicestershire, 5 May ] A Welsh politician has called for a review of the law after it was suggested that patients might be given stem cell injections in international waters. Dr Dai Lloyd, a Plaid Cymru assembly member and a physician, expressed his concerns at reports that Advanced Cell Therapeutics of Switzerland could supply a multiple sclerosis therapy which has been banned in the UK to people aboard a ferry between Britain and Ireland. The Irish Medicines Board has suspended supply of the same type of injection. The Swansea Cork Ferries company forbids medical procedures on its vessels. [icWales, 3 May ]

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