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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Woman admits assisting partner's suicide

3 June 2008

A woman in Australia has admitted giving a substance to her partner with which he then committed suicide. Ms Shirley Justins told her trial that she had placed some pentobarbital within easy reach of Mr Graeme Wylie who had Alzheimer's. Ms Caren Jenning, also on trial, has admitted to illegal importation of the Nembutal from Mexico. Mr Wylie applied unsuccessfully for suicide at Dignitas in Switzerland and took advice (which he does not seem to have followed) from Dr Philip Nitschke of Exit International. The case continues. [Sydney Morning Herald, 3 June]

A philosophy professor at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, claims that the Catholic church has changed its teaching on the sanctity of unborn human life. Professor Hugh V McLachlan writes that scripture does not mention the issue, and cites Professor Robin Gill, Michael Ramsey professor of modern theology at Kent University, as saying that doctrine on ensoulment has varied with time. [Herald, 3 June] The claim echoes the HFEA's Prof Lisa Jardine's recent comments to which SPUC replied: "The Catholic church and its leading authorities, from the earliest times to today, have always forbidden the destruction of the fruits of conception." [SPUC news summary, 28 May] John Smeaton of SPUC has blogged about Professor Jardine and her HFEA. [SPUC director's blog, 2 June]

Stillbirth could be better understood and babies consequently saved, says the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society. The UK has some 3,600 stillbirths a year and the society wants more post-mortems on them. More than half of parents of stillborn children do not agree to a post-mortem. [Times, 2 June]

Chemicals in tap-water could impair prenatal development according to a British study of some 400,000 babies in Taiwan. Higher levels of trihalomethanes, which are produced by chlorination, meant greater chances of a hole in the heart, cleft palate and anencephaly. The UK's water inspection body denies any link but will look at the Birmingham University research. [Daily Mail, 3 June]

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