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Defending life from the moment of conception

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British Muslim doctors voice objections to living wills

24 September 2007

Muslim doctors in Britain are protesting over proposals to cause patients to die according to so-called living wills. Under the new Mental Capacity Act, patients with life-threatening diseases will be allowed to refuse life-saving treatment and give their friends and relatives the power to stop their food and drink. A spokesman for the Islamic Medical Association said: "We oppose strongly any court decision or power of attorney used to justify participation in starving or dehydrating anyone to death. All Muslim doctors, nurses and patients, expressing our Islamic beliefs, should oppose this inhumane Act." [Daily Mail, 24 September] British lawyers are working on the new powers of attorney that would give relatives of mentally incapacitated patients unprecedented control over their affairs. [Guardian, 24 September]

Mr Alex Salmond MSP MP, first minister of Scotland, has supported the institution of a commission to examine abortion laws and in particular whether the issue should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. It is currently a reserved issue - decisions on abortion law are reserved to Westminster. Mr Salmond said that he personally supported a reduction in the 24 week threshold for some abortions. The UK government's Scotland minister, David Cairns said that those who wanted to devolve the issue would have to win the argument for such a "fundamental change." [BBC, 23 September and Scotland on Sunday, 23 September]

In Britain, a thousand babies die every year due to untrained medical staff, an expert on stillbirths has claimed. Professor Jason Gardosi, director of the Perinatal Institute, said: "Our research has shown the largest percentage of stillbirths were associated with the baby not having grown well in the womb. It found that the majority of these stillbirths were potentially avoidable." He criticised the lack of training for medical staff, which meant that ultrasound scans which could have detected problems were not used. Prof Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, the incoming president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, added that numbers of consultants and midwives in half the nation's hospitals "aren't adequate." [Telegraph, 24 September and Independent on Sunday, 23 September]

Three leading Irish hospitals have refused to provide cord-blood collection facilities for parents who might wish to save the stem cells in their baby's umbilical cord for future medical use. Dr Michael Geary, master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, said: "The chance of ever needing to draw this blood is extremely low and even [then] it might not be suitable." Mrs Kathy Sinnott MEP said: "When you think you can prevent strokes, car accident injuries, a range of medical problems, and we are throwing away 60,000 umbilical cords a year." [Irish Independent, 23 September]

Doctors in two British fertility clinics have revealed plans for a new technique that could allow human eggs to be grown in a laboratory from ovarian tissue samples. This would aim to allow older mothers, for whom conception is more difficult, to have a baby from eggs previously stored. The process could avoid some of the medical risks associated with IVF. Mrs Nuala Scarisbrick, a trustee of the Life charity, said: "Children should not be manufactured by people in laboratories." [Scotland on Sunday, 23 September]

Professor Ian Wilmut, creator of the first cloned sheep, has applauded the in-principle decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to allow British scientists to create human-animal hybrids for research. He suggested that by creating cloned embryos using the patient's DNA and animal eggs to generate embryos, a large numbers of stem cells could be tested. This, he said, meant treatments for individual patients could be found. A spokesman for Newcastle University said that Professor Lyle Armstrong hoped to pursue such techniques using a "ready supply" of cow eggs. [Sunday Herald, 23 September]

A report into the Rotary Club in America has revealed that it has ties to various pro-abortion and population control programmes including the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations Population Fund. Douglas R. Scott Jr., president of Life Decisions International, said: "It would be impossible for any person with an intact conscience to turn a blind eye to Rotary's ungodly associations and population control programs." [CNA on EWTN, 21 September]

All 328 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia, have been urged to sever their ties with Amnesty International over its new pro-abortion stance. Mr Stephen Elder, head of the diocesan education office, said: "Abortion is a fundamental denial of the dignity of the human person and a breach of the human rights of the child." [CNA on EWTN, 21 September]

A British woman has given birth to a baby boy after doctors told her she would never be able to have a child. Ms Karlie Wilson, 19, of Warwickshire, was told in 2001 that she had the rare medical condition uterus didelphys - a double uterus, and she had half her uterus and an ovary removed. She was also given medication to advance her menopause. Miss Wilson's baby was born at almost full-term on 6th September. [Daily Record, 24 September and Daily Mail, 24 September]

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