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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Date set for MPs to debate embryology bill

3 July 2008

The final debates in the House of Commons of the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill are likely to take place on Monday-week (the 14th) [Leader of the House of Commons, 3 July]. Amendments to the bill could remove safeguards on abortion, such as a second doctor's signature and specified medical grounds on all early and mid-term abortions. They would also let abortion providers use nurses and midwives to perform abortions instead of doctors, and allow abortions in a wider range of health care centres. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: "These amendments are trying to say that abortion is no different from other medical procedures. But it is vastly different. The pro-abortion MPs insist that abortion is a woman's right to choose but there is no right, either in law or in ethics, for patients to demand a medical procedure with no medical benefit, let alone one which kills another human being, and may harm themselves." Further commentary on the pro-abortion amendments appears on the blog of John Smeaton, as does the full text of a letter to MPs by Cardinal O'Brien, archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland [SPUC director's blog, 3 July]

A hospital in Birmingham, England, allegedly starved a woman of 88. Doctors decided that the best interests of Mrs Ellen Westwood, who survives, would be served by her not being given food or drink. Clostridium difficile had made her unable to swallow. Ms Kathleen Westwood, her daughter, says she had to fight to have sustenance restored. The case is being investigated and Mrs Westwood's health has improved. [BBC, 2 July]

The 79-year-old German woman who killed herself with the probable involvement of a former politician was not seriously ill but was worried about being in a nursing home. A video of Ms Bettina Schardt filmed by Mr Roger Kusch shows her joking and describing her hip problems. Mr Kusch, Hamburg's former justice minister, wants people not to need to travel to Dignitas in Switzerland to commit suicide. Our source suggests that one may legally assist a suicide in Germany as long as one is absent at the time of death. [Irish Times, 3 July]

A doctor has been arrested after a patient died in Humberside, England. Dr Sean Bennett, an anaesthetist, reportedly turned off the un-named man's ventilator before relatives had discussed treatment options with another doctor. [Guardian, 3 July]

An abortionist has defended his being given the Order of Canada. Dr Henry Morgentaler, who headed the campaign to legalise abortion, said it was for his sacrifices and for his imprisonment 20 years ago when he admitted performing abortions without following screening procedures. Mr Stephen Harper, conservative prime minister, disapproves of the award to Dr Morgentaler, which is given by the governor general. [Reuters, 2 July] Reformed Christians have added their voice to that of the Catholic Archbishop of Toronto in opposing the honour. The country's Evangelical Fellowship said the award has been diminished [LifeSiteNews, 2 July]

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