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NRL News
Page 10
April 2009
Volume 36
Issue 5

Pro-Life News in Brief
By Liz Townsend

Unborn Child’s Death Leads to Jail for Father

A military panel at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska found Airman Scott Boie guilty of attempting to kill his unborn child after acquitting him of murdering the baby. Boie received a sentence May 2 of over nine years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, and a “total forfeiture of all pay and allowances,” according to KTUU.

According to testimony at Boie’s court martial, the airman asked his wife Caylinn to get an abortion when they found out she was pregnant, the Associated Press (AP) reported. She refused, but later miscarried their baby from what she originally thought were natural causes.

After a friend told Caylinn that her husband may have been involved in the baby’s death, she filed a report with military investigators. Scott Boie’s friend, Senior Airman Ryan Bollinger, testified that Boie ordered misoprostol—one of the drugs used in the RU486 abortion technique—online and put it in his wife’s food without her knowledge, according to KTUU.

After the defense claimed that Caylinn Boie’s “history of smoking and troubled pregnancies may have caused the miscarriage,” the AP reported, the 10-member panel found Boie not guilty of killing the unborn baby. However, the panel did hold Boie accountable for using the drug to try to kill his child.

“In this case, the military prosecuted crimes against two victims—a mother who survived, and an unborn child who died,” said Douglas Johnson, NRLC legislative director. “The killing of the unborn child was prosecuted under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which was enacted in 2004 after a five-year effort led by NRLC.”

“We should remember that this law was enacted only over the vigorous objections of the pro-abortion lobby—the same pro-abortion lobby that seeks to pack the Supreme Court with justices who would obliterate any shred of protection for unborn children,” he added.

Alaskans Seek Parental Involvement through Initiative

With the support of pro-life Gov. Sarah Palin, Alaskans are planning a campaign to gather enough signatures for a voter initiative requiring parental involvement before a minor’s abortion. They hope to have the measure on the primary ballot in August 2010, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

A parental involvement bill had been introduced this session in the state legislature, but it stalled in a Senate committee. The initiative would achieve the same ends, to have girls 17 or younger tell their parents that they are contemplating abortion, with exceptions for a judicial bypass or medical emergency, the Daily News reported.

Gov. Palin initially thought to sponsor the initiative herself, but said that her foes would have charged her with violating a law that states that “a governor cannot spend money or ‘provide anything of value’ to influence the outcome of a ballot measure unless the Legislature has appropriated money for that purpose,” according to the Daily News.

“I got a preliminary opinion from Law [Department] just giving me a heads up that critics would certainly file an ethics charge against me if I were to sponsor an initiative,” said Palin, the Daily News reported. “So though I maintain I have First Amendment rights just as any other citizen does, I won’t flirt with the notion of giving critics more ammunition to keep filing wasteful ethics charges against me, but instead I’ll volunteer to be the first signature.”

After Palin’s signature, initiative supporters would need 32,733 more by January to place it on the ballot.

Nitschke Brings Death Seminars to Britain

Philip Nitschke, Australia’s “Dr. Death,” began teaching suicide seminars in Great Britain May 5. British authorities detained him at the airport for nine hours after he arrived May 2, where he was “searched, fingerprinted, interviewed and warned his teachings could be in breach of British law before being allowed into the country,” according to the Sunday Express.

His first death workshop took place in Bournemouth, where about 40 people attended, Sky News reported. Nitschke encouraged anyone who was over 50 or terminally ill to join his pro-euthanasia group Exit International, and promoted suicide “using an ‘exit bag’ of helium and inert gases, drugs from Mexico, morphine and ‘peaceful pills,’” according to Sky News.

He was also hawking a new “testing kit” that would let suicidal people determine if the drugs they bought illegally over the Internet are actually of lethal strength, the Sunday Express reported.

“Nitschke is an extremist and a self-publicist,” Peter Saunders, director of the pro-life group Care Not Killing, told Time magazine. “He will prey upon vulnerable people with these kits, and as a result they won’t get the medical treatment and proper palliative care that they really need.”

Nitschke chose the locations for his workshops to bring his message of death to the vulnerable elderly. “We were aware of the demographic in Bournemouth,” said Nitschke, according to The Guardian. “We knew there was a lot of retired folk down here.” He also planned to hold workshops in Stroud and Glasgow during his weeklong stay in Britain, and will seek to give his suicide seminars in Los Angeles and New York City this November, Time magazine reported.

Families Call for Inquiry into Patient Deaths

Despite protests from patients’ families, British officials refused to conduct a public inquiry on the suspicious deaths of 92 people at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire in the late 1990s. Instead, a local inquest looked into only 10 cases, finding April 20 that excessive pain medication was a “factor” in five of 10 deaths between 1996 and 1999, The Independent reported.

“Hampshire Police, Hampshire County Council and I all tried to persuade the Government to hold a public inquiry into the deaths but there was no interest whatsoever,” coroner David Horsely wrote to a patient’s relative, according to The Independent. “Neither was the Government prepared to assist with any additional funding for the inquests.”

Horsely wrote in another e-mail, “The reason for the refusal was that there were no matters of national importance involved.”

Department of Health officials claimed that a larger inquiry would “duplicate work done, or under way, by the police and health regulators,” The Independent reported.

The families disputed that the local investigations are sufficient. The doctor in charge of the ward where the patients died and who prescribed the pain medication, Dr. Jane Barton, was never charged with a crime after prosecutors said there was “insufficient evidence,” according to the Daily Telegraph, although the General Medical Council will hold a hearing on her actions later this year. Hampshire police have also said they would not reopen the investigation beyond the 10 patients who were the subject of the inquest, the Daily Mail reported.

An independent review conducted in 2001 that was never made public showed that an “abnormally high” number of patients died at the hospital, according to The Independent. “The initial prescription of subcutaneous diamorphine, midazolam and hyoscine by Dr. Barton was in my view reckless,” Professor Gary Ford wrote of one patient, the newspaper reported. “I consider the doses of these drugs most likely contributed to his death through pneumonia and/or respiratory distress.”

Of the 10 cases considered by the inquest, the jury found that three patients were given inappropriately excessive doses of drugs that contributed to their deaths, while another two received large amounts of medication that was justified by their conditions, according to The Express. However, the jury asserted that the drugs were given to all patients for “therapeutic reasons,” meaning no harm was intended.

“We did not expect this inquest to be transparent, honest or fair and our expectations have been met in full,” the patients’ relatives said after the verdict, The Express reported. “Extreme drug overdoses were given without justification or logic that rendered our family members comatose in a matter of hours and dead soon after, giving relatives no warning or opportunity to speak with them.”

Advocates are asking families of more patients to come forward and demand further action by the government. “Until the authorities really understand and acknowledge what went on in Gosport, the families are bound to be left with feelings of injustice, anger and mistrust,” solicitor John White told The Independent.

Assisted Suicide Bill Proposed in Scotland

Member of the Scottish Parliament Margo MacDonald announced April 24 that she is drafting a bill that would legalize assisted suicide in Scotland. Planning to bring the bill before parliament’s Health Committee later this year, MacDonald’s proposal would allow “people with a progressive degenerative condition, those who have been left dependent on others following a trauma, and those with a terminal illness and for whom life has become intolerable to seek a doctor’s help in dying,” according to Press Association (PA) News.

Many in Scotland, including those in the medical community, oppose the bill. “Doctors are generally opposed to assisted dying because they know that it is unnecessary since physical suffering can be adequately alleviated in all but the most rare cases by appropriate palliative care,” Dr. Calum MacKellar, Scottish Council on Human Bioethics director of research, told PA News. “If Scottish society accepts to legalise assisted dying it would mean that it agrees that some lives no longer have any meaning, value or worth.”

MacDonald obtained the backing of 21 other legislators to bring the measure before parliament, according to the Edinburgh Evening News. The bill still needs to be formally drafted, sent to a committee, and then brought to the full Parliament.

Currently, the bill’s so-called “stringent safeguards” include requiring that suicidal patients be “registered with a doctor for ‘a considerable period of time’ before they could request help to die, and they would also have to make two requests for such help, at least 15 days apart,” the Evening News reported.

“We have serious reservations about the proposals,” Peter Saunders, director of the anti-euthanasia group Care Not Killing, wrote to parliament members in February, according to The Scotsman. “Not only because they breach important principles of legal protection and medical ethics, but also because little thought seems to have been given to their rationale or to the very real dangers that they would pose to vulnerable people.”

Chinese Officials Force Surrogate Mothers to Abort

Surrogate mothers carrying babies for infertile couples in Guangzhou, China, were forced to abort the unborn children, according to Reuters. Three women reported that officials came to an apartment where they were staying together and brought them to a hospital in late February, the news agency reported.

I was crying, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” 20-year-old Xiao Hong, who had been carrying four-month-old twins, told Reuters. “But they still dragged me in and injected my belly with a needle.”

Family planning authorities in the area told Guangzhou Daily newspaper that the three women were “all unmarried and acting as ‘illegal’ surrogates,” Reuters reported.

Although surrogate motherhood is illegal in China as part of the country’s brutal one-child policy, it had been rarely enforced, according to Reuters.

Another of the women told the news agency that her three-month-old unborn baby was “surgically removed” from her womb after she was given pills that made her lose consciousness. “I was terrified,” the 23-year-old told Reuters.

“It’s an absolute crime,” Lu Jinfeng, founder of the China Surrogate Mother web site, told Reuters. “By forcefully dragging people away like this to undergo an abortion is a savage illegal act that violates human rights.”