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Defending life from the moment of conception

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British PM repeats opposition to assisted suicide

11 December 2008

The British prime minister has said that people should never feel pressure to seek death. Mr Gordon Brown MP yesterday said to the House of Commons: "It is necessary to ensure that there is never a case in which a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death or that it is the expected thing to do. That is why I have always opposed legislation on assisted death." He also said it was a matter of conscience on which parliamentary opinions differed. [Official Report, 10 December] The pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying called for parliamentary debate on the matter. [Times, 11 December] A suicide at Dignitas in Switzerland was shown on British TV last night. Mr Craig Ewert, 59, who had motor neurone disease, took barbiturates, turned off his ventilator with his teeth and died. Mr Ewert had said he wanted to spare his family and himself suffering. Care Not Killing, an alliance opposing euthanasia, said the programme on the Sky Real Lives channel was a cynical attempt to get a big audience and it glorified assisted dying. [AP on Google, 11 December] An MP said the programme was in poor taste. Dr Brian Iddon, Labour member for Bolton south-east, said: "Should we now screen hangings that take place in other countries?... this [is] not the way to debate this issue." [Bolton News, 11 December] Another death at Dignitas has been described to an inquest by the late 23-year-old British man's father. Mr Mark James told of how a woman asked Mr Daniel James several times if he was sure he wanted to kill himself before giving him liquid poison to drink. [Guardian, 11 December]

Certain drugs which induce ovulation for IVF might increase the risk of uterine cancer, according to a study of Israeli women by Hadassah-Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Richard Kennedy of the British Fertility Society said: "There have been a high number of studies that have failed to find a conclusive link."[Telegraph, 10 December]

A 38-year-old woman who had one of her twin sister's complete ovaries transplanted into her has given birth in Missouri, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters reports. The Infertility Center of St Louis performed the difficult task of connecting two veins and an artery to the organ. Dr. Sherman Silber who led the team said that the technique could be used to remove one ovary from young women and re-implant them when they are older - extending their fertility. [Reuters, 11 December]

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