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ECHR refuses to hear Italian euthanasia appeal

24 December 2008

The European Court of Human Rights has refused to hear an appeal concerning the semi-conscious woman in Italy whose father wants her to die from dehydration. Judges said they would not hear the matter because the Italian pro-life organisations bringing the case were not linked to Ms Eluana Englaro. Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro of Human Life International, Rome, claimed the court, in Strasbourg, France, was biased towards allowing euthanasia. He said: "[The judges] do not hold in high esteem the life of the handicapped. They take a utilitarian position - that people like Eluana Englaro are 'useless mouths'. [That] their life has no social value." The Italian government should issue a decree to save her. [LifeSiteNews, 23 December]

The UK family doctors' body says prescription-free birth control pills will not cut teenage pregnancy because girls forget to take them. Dr Sarah Jarvis, women's health spokeswoman for the Royal College of General Practitioners, recommends implants and coils instead. [BBC, 24 December] Hormonal birth control, including pills, implants and coils, can cause early abortion.

The Russian Orthodox church has expressed its support for the Grand Duke of Luxembourg's refusal to approve the legalisation of euthanasia. Locum tenens Metropolitan Kirill of Moscow wrote that legal euthanasia destroyed traditional morals. It: " ... encroaches on the sacred gift of life, [a] reverent attitude to which was nurtured in Europe's Christian culture for years." It also perverted doctors' professional duty. The Luxembourg parliament has changed the grand duke's status so the bill can be passed. [Interfax, 22 December]

The British government is running a consultation in England on a scheme for monitoring so-called living wills made under the 2005 Mental Capacity Act. The Care Quality Commission would inspect hospitals and care homes, speaking to patients and residents. [Nursing Times, 22 December]

Money intended to improve midwifery has not reached British hospitals, according to the Royal College of Midwives. Professor Cathy Warwick suggests 10s of millions of pounds destined for recruitment have yet to arrive, risking women's health. Central government said the money had left them while health trusts denied having it. [Telegraph, 22 December] The royal college's former president suggests women who give birth need 10 days resting in bed afterwards. Widespread advice is to move around to stop problems like deep-vein thrombosis. Ms Caroline Flint says on a DVD that bed rest allows for bonding with, and feeding of, babies. [Telegraph, 19 December]

A UK survey suggests only around a fifth of nurses agree with the legalisation of assisted suicide. [Nurses.co.uk on Response Source, 22 December]

Vitamin D deficiency in expectant mothers increases the likelihood of the need for Caesarean section, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Centre, Massachusetts, studied more than 250 women and speculate that a lack of the nutrient could diminish muscle strength. The Health Research Forum, said a lack of vitamin D also made pre-eclampsia more likely. [Mail, 24 December]

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