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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Husband protests after wife was starved to death in hospital

18 January 2007

The husband of a woman who was given an experimental dose of the drug zolpidem against the wishes of her family, has called for a review into the use of the drug. His wife was diagnosed with so-called PVS after a brain haemorrhage, and a court ruled that she should be given the treatment because it had been effective in some cases. The family of the unnamed woman objected, on the grounds that if it was successful she would have been upset to realise the extent of her disabilities. However, when she failed to respond, the court gave permission for her feeding to be stopped, and she died 14 days later. Her husband commented: "If she was a dog and we said it was incurable and we said I'm going to lock it in its kennel and not feed it, I think the RSPCA would be knocking at your door." . [BBC, 18 January] The RSPCA is a British organisation promoting animal welfare.

Portugal's first March for Life will be held in Lisbon on 28 January, in resistance to proposed legislation that would make abortion legal during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. A referendum will be held on 11 February. The march will be modelled on that held every year in the US, as are those held in Poland, France, and Canada. In each case the majority of marchers are young. [LifeSite, 17 January]

A bill proposed in the Arizona state legislature, would allow doctors to provide a lethal prescription if requested by a terminally-ill patient, provided the patient administers it him/herself. While forbidding mercy killing or active euthanasia, the bill claims that "actions taken in accordance with this article do not constitute, for any purpose, suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing, or homicide." There is a conscience clause that requires medical personnel who refuse to fulfil the request to "promptly transfer the responsibility" to someone who will. [LifeSite, 17 January]

Low level exposure through the skin to certain anti-cancer drugs cause women to take longer to conceive and increase the risk of premature delivery and low birth-weight babies. Dr Wouter Fransman, of Utrecht University, who led the study among oncology nurses in the Netherlands, said that people needed to be aware of the risks and take the necessary safety precautions. He hopes to extend the study to other countries to see if higher exposure levels carry greater risks, such as foetal loss and congenital malformations. [Reuters, 17 January]

It is estimated that 2 million Chinese teenagers are addicted to the internet, particularly playing online games. Mr Tao Ran, director of the Treatment Centre for Internet Addicts in Beijing, blamed the lack of company at home caused by the one-child policy. He said that boys are particularly affected because of the lack of sports facilities, as they sought excitement by turning to the virtual world or to crime. [The Times, 19 January]

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