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High court to hear assisted suicide case

11 June 2008

The English high court has agreed to let a woman with multiple sclerosis seek a ruling on whether her husband may be prosecuted if he assists her plan to commit suicide overseas. Ms Debbie Purdy, 45, is considering going to Belgium or Switzerland accompanied by Mr Omar Puente. [BBC, 11 June] SPUC will be intervening in the case, as it did in the somewhat similar 2002 matter of Mrs Dianne Pretty. [SPUC, 11 June] Alison Davis of No Less Human, part of SPUC, said: "I understand completely the despair and blackness which causes some disabled and ill people to feel suicidal, because I once felt the same." However, she also said: "Allowing assisted suicide or weakening the law against it would compromise the protection from harm every vulnerable person deserves. The assumption that dying and incurably disabled people are, in effect, right to want to die and better off dead would be confirmed." [SPUC, 11 June]

The House of Commons committee considering the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill yesterday approved a measure which would mean that the children of lesbian couples could have two women's names on their birth certificates. That part of the bill cannot now be amended and the ruling Labour party will tell all its MPs to vote for the bill. [Evening Standard, 11 June]

Emily's List, the pro-abortion movement, is backing Senator Barack Obama for US president. The group's leader says Senator John McCain, Republican, would overturn the Roe v. Wade judgement which permitted abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice America has already endorsed Mr Obama. [LifeNews, 6 June]

Chinese authorities will reportedly reverse the sterilisation of parents whose children died in a recent earthquake, as well as offering IVF to bereaved families. The population commission suggested that parents of children disabled by the disaster might also be helped. [BBC, 6 June] China has a policy restricting couples to one child.

A British MP's support for China's one-child policy received no criticism from the House of Commons. Mr Barry Gardiner, Labour member for Brent North, was speaking in a debate on climate change and said that people failed "to commend the political initiative that has seen 400 million people not being born to create a carbon footprint in the first place. We need to take the issue of population seriously." SPUC's John Smeaton pointed out that the policy involved: "forced abortions, forced sterilisations, compulsory fittings of abortifacient birth control devices, abandonment of children and deliberate killing of orphans through neglect." He regretted that no-one had objected to Mr Gardiner's comments and urged supporters to contact MPs who may not have been present at the debate. [SPUC director's blog, 10 June]

The Italian prime minister has intimated that he might pursue pro-life policies. After a meeting with the Pope, Mr Silvio Berlusconi expressed total agreement with Benedict XVI on "the sanctity of the human person and of the family" and said the church would welcome what his new government did in this sphere. [Catholic World News, 6 June]

The Pope has appointed Cardinal Ennio Antonelli as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The 71-year-old Archbishop of Florence succeeds the late Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo. [Catholic World News, 9 June]

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