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Defending life from the moment of conception

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TV producer questions teenage pregnancy fears

29 March 2008

A TV producer has questioned whether teenage pregnancy is always the problem it is portrayed as being. Ms Ruth Pitt, who has been filming young mothers in Merseyside, England, said: "These young women, though none planned their babies, are incredibly committed to them. The children are put at the absolute centre of their world and they just get on with it. I have a suspicion that there are a lot of middle-class families whose love for their child is partly conditional. It's related to achieving academically. But a lot of these teenage mums don't expect anything of their children. They love them for what they are, and their overwhelming priority is looking after them themselves." The Times feature article also quotes Germaine Greer and Simon Duncan, professor of social policy at Bradford, as well as citing the film Juno [Times, 11 March]

A survey by YouGov suggests that more than half of British people believe that people with incurable, though not terminal, illnesses should receive what our source calls: "medical help to die". 76% said the terminally ill should get such help. Dignity in Dying called for a change to the law. [PA on Channel 4, 10 March] The phrase "medical help to die" is regularly used to blur the distinction between palliative care and intentional killing of terminally ill or disabled people.

Money raised through an Irish-themed parade in Chicago, Illinois, could benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation which reportedly supports embryo-research. Catholic parishes and schools were due to take part, and the diocese has suggested to one school that it should ask the organisers to send some money to another diabetes charity. [Chicago Tribune, 8 March]

The brother and sister of the late Mrs Theresa Schiavo are to launch a radio programme about disability, euthanasia, assisted suicide and end-of-life matters. America's Lifeline will be on WGUL in Florida and is supported by Mr Robert Schindler and Mrs Suzanne Vitadamo. Mrs Schiavo had brain damage, and her husband went to court to get medics to remove her feeding-tube. [Catholic News Agency, 8 March]

Many premature babies need care for years after they have been born. French research reported in the Lancet included a survey of 1,800 children born before 33 weeks of gestation. One third still needed medical help such as physiotherapy when they were five years old. [BBC, 7 March]

A mother was told her unborn baby would die within minutes of being born, yet he is now aged three. Connor Owen has various ailments and disabilities but has recently been helped by a kidney transplanted from his father. He has had several operations and will need more. [South Wales Argus, 10 March]

A midwife has been debarred after he gave a baby to her mother without acknowledging that the child was dead. Mr Peter Davies was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council following the traumatic delivery. He told Mrs Elizabeth Reader that her baby Scarlet, who had been stillborn, would be fine. Another midwife implicated in mistakes during the delivery in 2004 at a hospital in St Leonard's, East Sussex, was given a caution. [Daily Mail, 10 March]

Teenagers are being lent dummy-babies to teach them about the responsibility of being parents. The European Union is funding the scheme in Lincolnshire, England. The models sleep, cry and need changing. [Lincolnshire Echo, 10 March]

Householders in Victoria, Australia, have complained to the Herald Sun newspaper after the Tell the Truth Coalition reportedly sent leaflets showing aborted children to homes. The material was in envelopes addressed to the "adult householder", though children were said to have opened them. [Herald Sun, 11 March]

Pancreatic tissue generated from human embryos has produced cells similar to beta cells which can secrete insulin. Novocell Inc, California, put the human material into mice, according to Nature Biotechnology. The tissue stopped glucose levels rising excessively in the animals, so it is suggested that it could treat diabetes. [Reuters on Tehran Times, 5 March]

Pro-life activists have seized upon a line from a children's story and are using it in their campaigns. The late Theodore "Dr." Seuss Geisel's 1954 Horton Hears a Who! contains: "... a person's a person, no matter how small." Protesters chanted the phrase at a Hollywood showing of the book's recently-released film version. [TMZ, 8 March] The text refers to fictional microscopic people yet could be applied to real-life unborn children.

The European Public Health Alliance, Friends of the Earth and Scientists for Global Responsibility are among signatories to a letter to the European Commission which calls for a ban on the cloning of animals for food. [Natural Choices, 7 March] Cloned cattle have been withdrawn from sale in Shropshire, England, for fear of "negative publicity". [BBC, 5 March]

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