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Defending life
from conception to natural death


weekly update, 18 to 24 September

24 September 2007

weekly update, 18 to 24 September 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 ] The Pope has urged Slovakia to ratify a treaty that includes a clause allowing citizens to refuse to act contrary to Catholic teaching. It is thought that this would allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions. Speaking to Jozef Dravecky, the new Slovakian ambassador to the Holy See, Benedict XVI said that he commends "the republic's reassurance that it is committed to finalizing the basic accord concerning conscientious objection." [Medical News Today, 19 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 ] A woman is suing an IVF practitioner, Dr Robert Armellin, after she gave birth to twins instead of only one child in November 2003. The unnamed 40-year-old and her partner are seeking over £167,000 for bringing up the extra child. Testifying in the Australian Capital Territory supreme court in Canberra, she said that offering the other twin for adoption would have been unfair on them both. [Irish Examiner, 18 September ]

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