US Supreme Court rejects attempt to overturn landmark 1973 abortion ruling
12 October 2006
The United States Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by a former plaintiff to overturn a landmark abortion ruling of 1973. Ms Sandra Cano was the unidentified plaintiff in the Doe v Bolton case which, along with the better-known Roe v Wade, established a legal right to abortion in America. "What I received was something I never requested - the legal right to abort my child," Ms Cano said in an affidavit. Her attorney, Allan Parker, commented: "We're very disappointed that the Supreme Court has not decided to protect women and children from the harm of abortion. "An Appeals Court has ruled that neither a Court of Appeals nor District Court can overturn the Supreme Court's rejection of the case. [The Guardian, 10 October]
Australian Catholic bishops have spoken out against a bill that proposes the creation of human embryos specifically for embryonic stem cell research. Passage of the bill would reverse a 2002 decision which allowed embryonic stem cell lines to be extracted only from embryos "left over" from the IVF process, but prevented the creation of embryos for research. The bishops said that while everyone wants to find cures for disease and to alleviate suffering this cannot be done "by creating and then killing human life." They stressed that the Catholic church is a strong supporter of adult stem cell research and treatments as well as those derived from umbilical cord blood. [EWTN News 11 October]
A boy who had been diagnosed as being in a so-called permanent vegetative state (PVS) has regained consciousness and is continuing to recover. Devon Rivers collapsed and became comatose 22 months ago and doctors considered his case hopeless. His mother, Carla Rivers, continued to visit and care for him and, in August 2006, he began to show signs of consciousness. Devon is to receive occupational therapy to recover motor skills, and is able to play with his siblings. A 1996 study published by the British Medical Journal found that 43% of PVS patients are wrongly diagnosed. [LifeSite, 10 October]
Members of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign have accused American women's magazine Ms of ignoring their voices. Ms has recently run a campaign to collect the names of women who have had abortions, but Mrs Georgette Forney of Silent No More said that numerous letters from their members, all of whom are women prepared to speak publicly about their regret for having aborted, were ignored. [EWTN News, 10 October] Mrs Forney was in Northern Ireland this week, attending a public gathering of Londonderry and Belfast women who have had abortions. The women walked through the streets carrying signs reading 'I regret my abortion'. Addressing the demonstration, Mrs Forney said: "I have traveled from America to stand alongside women from Northern Ireland because I want other women who can relate to our pain to hear about the hope and help we have found." [LifeSite, 10 October]
The national examination board in India is about to introduce a curriculum which includes sex education. Topics covered will include, as well as nutrition and drug abuse, puberty, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. The curriculum will be taught to children as young as five. [Scotsman News, 11th October] The Scotsman cites a Reuters New Delhi report which in turn quotes the Times of India as its source for this story.
A mother convicted of leaving her newborn baby in a dustbin in a pub has been given a two-year community service order. Ms Angeli Whitehead admitted having concealed the birth of her daughter, Ann-Louisa, whose body was found by the landlady of the pub. It is unclear whether the baby's death was deliberately caused. High Court Judge Mr Justice Openshaw said Ms Whitehead was to be "more pitied than condemned". [The Mirror, 11 October]
Mrs Donna Zammit, whose eight year old son Jamie was diagnosed last year as having Fanconi anaemia is considering having a child by IVF so its stem cells can save her son's life. Her embryos, conceived by IVF would be examined in the laboratory, and one which was found not to carry the faulty Fanconi gene would be implanted in her womb. This embryo would also be tested to try to ensure he or she was a tissue match for Jamie. [Bucks Free Press 11 October] Alison Davis, of SPUC's disability rights group No Less Human, said "The creation of a child specifically for the purpose of treating a sibling is unethical. Children should be welcomed and loved for themselves, not for what they can offer to someone else. In addition, the process of testing embryos and discarding those who have a disabling condition, or who are not a perfect match for their sibling is not compatible with the absolute right to life of all human beings."
Canadian disability rights advocate Mr. Norman Kunc has produced a music video warning of the threat of euthanasia to elderly people, those who are ill, and disabled people. Mr. Kunc, who has cerebral palsy writes the songs himself, and focuses on the inevitable deadly consequences of legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide. Not Dead Yet, a disability rights organisation opposed to physician assisted suicide and euthanasia says "Though often described as compassionate, legalized medical killing is really about a deadly double standard for people with severe disabilities ... This is not compassion, it's contempt." [LifeSiteNews 11 October]
Researchers at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts led by Ms Fei Xue have warned that eating large quantities of fish may increase the risk giving birth prematurely. Health advisers have previous warned women to avoid the types of fish which have higher concentrations of mercury, which has been linked to problems of the nervous system in newborns. A study of 1000 pregnant women found those who gave birth prematurely were three times more likely to have double the average mercury level in hair samples. The authors stressed, however that only 44 of the women in their study gave birth prematurely and further investigations were needed. [Daily Telegraph 12 October]
Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague has found that women infected with the cat parasite toxoplasma give birth to more sons that daughters, says the Guardian. In most populations the birth rate is around 51% boys but women infected with toxoplasma have up to a 72% chance of a boy. Toxoplasma is known to trigger miscarriages by causing congenital anomalies, but Flegr suggests it may also interfere with the maternal immune system to stop boy-embryos implanting I the womb. The research was published in Naturwissenschaften. [Guardian 12 October]