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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Baroness Warnock: "Dementia sufferers have a duty to die"

19 September 2008

The medical ethicist who helped lay the foundation for the UK's embryology law has suggested that dementia sufferers have a duty to die. Baroness Warnock, described as the country's leading moral philosopher, says patients are a drain on national resources. She appears to want assisted suicide and/or euthanasia, including for patients who are not in pain but feel they are burden on others. The Alzheimer's Society was shocked by Lady Warnock's remarks. [Daily Telegraph, 19 September] SPUC has described Baroness Warnock's views as "a regression to the brutal ancient world, when enforced suicide as a punishment was commonplace." [John Smeaton, 19 September] Lady Warnock chaired a committee on human fertilisation and embryology in the 1980s.

A woman has described her depression after abortion in a magazine article. Ms Bethan Cole writes that the depression was "a direct consequence of the abortion, almost like some kind of bizarre post-natal depression for a baby that hadn't been born." The mental problem was treated with drugs though, when she remembers the abortion, one of her feelings is "a deep longing to have had the baby". She also writes: "The abortion has left scar tissue in my emotional memory. Time has lessened the pain, yet I still carry it with me - a dark secret locked in my heart." [Daily Mail, 19 September]

Parental involvement with teenage pregnancy cuts abortion. The Family Research Council (FRC) of Washington, DC, cites academic research which suggests a reduction of 13% to 19% where appropriate laws apply. The council's own recent survey suggests a reduction of 13%. Dr Michael New of the FRC suggests that laws requiring the consent of pregnant teenagers' parents might prevent more abortions than a requirement that parents are merely told. [LifeNews, 18 September]
Human embryo cells could one day repair spinal injuries. Colorado University scientists say they produced astrocytes from rat embryos and used them to promote regrowth of the animals' nerve fibres. [Daily Telegraph, 18 September]

Trans fatty acids could increase the likelihood of foetal death in pregnancy. Jewish Hospital Cholesterol Center, Ohio, studied 100 women and recommend that expectant mothers cut down on foods that are shown to contain hydrogenated oils. [Reuters, 18 September] Birth by caesarean section could increase the risk of certain allergies among children of parents with allergies or asthma. Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts, studied more than 400 children and found that caesareans more or less doubled the likelihood of atopy or allergic rhinitis in children. [Reuters, 18 September]

Calcium given in pregnancy could protect the unborn from the harmful effects of lead. Research done in Mexico found that supplements can help stop women's bodies from transferring their own bone tissue to their children. This process can mean that accumulated lead is passed to the baby. [Reuters, 18 September]

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