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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Doctor cleared over euthanasia charges calls for more end-of-life debate

12 July 2007

The British doctor who was recently cleared by the General Medical Council of misconduct in hastening the deaths of two terminally ill babies has called for more debate on issues surrounding the end of life. Dr Michael Munro said after the hearing in Manchester: "I very much regret any distress caused to the parents of both babies by these proceedings. I hope that today's decision will promote further consideration of the treatment of neonates and the end-of-life decision-making and that this, in turn, will lead to clearer professional guidance for doctors, better patient care and greater support for parents." [Times, 12 July]

A British fertility expert has said that parents undergoing IVF should be allowed to choose their baby's sex. Speaking to MPs and peers who are examining the government's Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, Gillian Lockwood, medical director of Midland Fertility Services, said that the restrictions on sex selection should be lifted and that this would reduce the number of sex-selective abortions which are reportedly carried out in Britain. [icBirmingham, 12 July]

The British prime minister has pledged to give grants to pregnant women to ensure that they can afford to eat healthily. Mr Gordon Brown made the announcement in a speech to MPs about his legislative plans for parliament's next session. [Times, 12 July]

A recent population report has claimed that the UK needs a two-child policy similar to the one-child policy in China. The Optimum Population Trust has pointed out that Britain's rising birth rate has resulted in detrimental effects on the environment. A statement from the report says: "A voluntary stop-at-two guideline should be adopted for couples in the UK who want to adopt greener lifestyles. It would aim to set an example." John Guillebaud, professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College, London, and author of the report, added: "A voluntary 'two-child' population policy in Iran, for example, succeeded in halving fertility in eight years, as fast a rate of decrease as that of China, whose much-criticised one-child policy began in 1980." He claims to foresee a time when it may be necessary to put compulsory limits on births as more pressure is put on world resources. "Those who continue to place obstacles in the way of women who want to control their fertility will have only themselves to blame, as more and more regimes bring in coercive measures," he predicted. [Guardian, 11 July]

An Indian man has been jailed for five years for forcing his wife to undergo an abortion. Minketan Bhainsa from Bargah has also been fined 2,000 rupees. His wife Ushabati Bhainsa was forced to undergo an abortion during her third pregnancy nine years ago. [, 3 July]

Thousands of Chinese provincial officials are breaking the country's one-child law, according to recent announcements by the government. Authorities in Hunan province have said that almost 2,000 officials broke the ban on having more than one child in the years of 2000-2005. They are, unlike the ordinary people, can do this because they can afford to pay the fines. The Chinese government has said it plans to increase the fines for the rich and famous. [BBC, 8 July]

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