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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Over 29,000 reports of serious feeding-related incidents in UK hospitals last year

30 July 2008

The deaths of 42 patients in British state hospitals last year were linked to poor nutrition, and reports of non-fatal instances of patient malnutrition have almost doubled in two years. The National Patient Safety Agency found that one patient was dehydrated to death and two died because of inappropriate food. Last year there were more than 29,000 reports of serious feeding-related incidents. The agency suggests the increase since 2005 was partly due to better reporting. [Telegraph, 29 July] Food and drink is sometimes placed beyond patients' reach. [Evening Standard, 30 July] Mr Stephen O'Brien, opposition health spokesman, has called the situation disgraceful, yet, as SPUC points out, he did not take every opportunity to vote on the Mental Capacity Act which has made patients more vulnerable. [John Smeaton, 30 July]

Welsh politicians have rejected a proposal to assume patients' consent to organ donation. The Welsh assembly's health committee did not rule out such assumed consent though Mr Jonathan Morgan AM, chairman, said it was hard to expect grieving relatives to decide about organ harvesting. The British Medical Association is disappointed. [BBC, 30 July] SPUC's chief executive writes: "[T]here is a risk that eager medics could hasten patients' deaths to get fresh organs for a person in need - well-intentioned but wrong. Earlier this year, a patient in Paris, presumed dead, revived as surgeons began to remove his organs. While organ donation can be a generous act, none of us is morally required to do it and government has no right to require it of us." [John Smeaton, 30 July]

A bill in the Philippines' house of representatives would pave the way for abortion, and would promote abortifacient birth control and sterilization. The proposed law would also over-rule medical staff's conscientious objection to being involved in such practices. SPUC is asking religious believers to pray for its total defeat. [John Smeaton, 30 July]

A woman in California may be saved from death by dehydration or starvation after responsibility for her care was transferred from a court-appointee back to her family. The official guardian ordered that Janet Rivera be deprived of food and drink, which happened for eight days. Her cousin has now been made her temporary guardian; her brother says Ms Rivera is not dying and wants to live. More court proceedings are due. Ms Rivera had a heart-attack in 2006. [LifeNews, 29 July]

A former abortion provider, now pro-life, has described how the American public was misled about the number of illegal and incomplete abortions. Dr Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League, said on Canadian talk-radio: "We claimed that between [5,000 and 10,000] women a year died of botched abortions. The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300. We also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So we were guilty of massive deception." Dr Nathanson changed his views after he saw an unborn child on ultrasound during an abortion. [LifeSiteNews, 29 July]

Instances of serious sexually-transmitted disease in Scotland doubled between 1996 and last year. There were nearly 23,000 acute infections last year and chlamydia increased five-fold over a decade. The SNP health minister was disappointed while the Conservatives called the increase shocking. 80% of chlamydia diagnoses were of females aged 15 to 24. That disease can be symptomless and lead to infertility. [Telegraph, 30 July]

A lesbian couple in California have each given birth to related IVF twins within 24 hours of each other. Eggs from Ms Martha Padgett, 38, were fertilised with donor sperm and the resulting embryos were implanted in her and in Ms Karen Wesolowski, 42, her partner. [Daily Mail, 30 July] A woman, who was refused IVF because of her size, lost weight and conceived naturally. Ms Jane Crook of western England went from 27 stone (378lb, 171kg) to 18 stone (252lb, 114kg). [Daily Mail, 29 July]

A research centre has been founded in England to study adverse effects on the unborn, including maternal use of alcohol and drugs. Parents for Children, an adoption charity, has established the Foetally Affected Children's Team Centre of Excellence in London. Our source says three fifths of women drink alcohol in pregnancy. [Community Newswire, 29 July]

If an expectant mother frequently uses a mobile telephone (cellphone) in pregnancy and if her child subsequently uses a mobile too, the child is more likely than average to have behavioural problems. California-based researchers studied data on more than 13,000 Danish children. [Reuters, 30 July]

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