Saturday, 27 October 2012

Congratulations to SPUC South Wales for well-supported campaign vs presumed consent for organ donation

Congratulations are to SPUC South Wales, in particular Wendell and Janet Thomas, for organising a well-supported campaign against the Welsh government's proposals for presumed consent for organ donation. The vast majority of submissions to the Welsh government's consultation (2,601 out of 2,891) were in response to SPUC South Wales' call for action. See Monday's press release from our colleagues at CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) for more information.

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Friday, 26 October 2012

Pro-life experts issue statement challenging the Liverpool Care Pathway

Prof. Patrick Pullicino
Earlier this week senior pro-life medics and experts have issued a joint statement (full text below) which raises serious objections to the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), in reply to a statement by the National End-of-Life programme. The Mail and The Telegraph have published a range of pieces recently about the LCP:
  • "Hospitals 'paid millions to put patients on death pathway'" [Telegraph, 26 October]
  • "Hospitals bribed to put patients on pathway to death: Cash incentive for NHS trusts that meet targets on Liverpool Care Pathway" [Mail, 25 October]
  • "A welcome review of the pathway to death" [Mail, 25 October]
  • "Care Pathway condemned by senior doctors as 'medical treatment that hastens death'" [Mail, 23 October]
In another recent development, Archbishop Peter Smith, chairman of the relevant department of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), last week called upon the Department of Health to launch an official enquiry into the LCP. Although the Department of Health rejected his call, the Association of Palliative Medicine (APM) has announced that it will be conducting its own review. We are, however, doubtful that the review by the APM, which supports the LCP, will address adequately the disturbing claims about the LCP.

Here is the joint statement from senior pro-life medics and experts:
Commentary on the Statement supporting the Liverpool Care Pathway

21 October 2012

The Statement supporting the Liverpool Care Pathway from the National End of Life Programme was published under multiple signatories. We have a number of serious reservations and questions about the working of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

1 The statement says, “it is not always easy to tell whether someone is very close to death”.
The fact is that there is no scientific evidence to support the diagnosis of impending death and there are no published criteria that allow this diagnosis to be made in an evidence-based manner. This is even more true of non cancer conditions. This diagnosis is a prediction, which is at best an educated guess. Predictions have been shown to be often in serious error.
There is no evidence that the diagnosis of impending death can be improved by using “the most senior doctor available “, and an actual misdiagnosis of impending death could result in a wrongful death.

2 “The Liverpool Care Pathway …is not a treatment”.
This statement belies what actually happens once a patient is signed up onto the LCP. The fact that morphine, midozelam and glycopyrrolate are prescribed makes the LCP a treatment protocol.

3 “The Liverpool Care Pathway …is…a framework for good practice.”
In the twenty-first century all good clinical practice is evidence based. Good clinical practice has always traditionally involved a close doctor-patient relationship and the management of symptoms in the best interest of the patient, as and when they arise. The LCP is more than a framework. It is a pathway that takes the patient in the direction of the outcome presumed by the diagnosis of impending death. The pathway leads to a suspension of evidence based practice and the normal doctor-patient relationship.

4 “The Liverpool Care Pathway does not….hasten death.”
It is self evident that stopping fluids whilst giving narcotics and sedatives hastens death. According to the National Audit 2010-2011, fluids were continued in only 16% of patients and none had fluids started.
The median time to death on the Liverpool Care Pathway is now 29 hours. Statistics show that even patients with terminal cancer and a poor prognosis may survive months or more if not put on the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Your statement fails to mention the relief of symptoms at all. We think this is a serious omission. The question of consent is not mentioned either.

If as you say, the LCP does not replace “clinical judgement”, and is a “framework for good”, why is it not endorsed by 28% of senior healthcare professionals? (National Audit 2010-2011)

Patients should receive an individual treatment plan according to best evidence based medicine. They should not be deprived of consciousness, but receive such treatment that is aimed at relieving all their symptoms including thirst. Nothing should be done which intentionally hastens death. An individual care plan based on best evidence is preferable to a rigid pathway.

Signed

Professor P Pullicino
Prof of Neurosciences

Mr J Bogle
Chairman Catholic Union of Great Britain

Dr P Howard
Chairman Joint Medico Ethical Committee Catholic Union

Dr R Hardie
President Catholic Medical Association

Dr A Cole
Chairman Medical Ethics Alliance

Dr M Knowles
Secretary First Do No Harm

Mrs N McCarthy
Catholic Nurses Association

Ms T Lynch
Chairman Nurses Opposed to Euthanasia

Mr R Balfour
President Doctors who Respect Human Life
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Thursday, 25 October 2012

BBC World helps Marie Stopes vs SPUC

Last week Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, was interviewed on BBC World News by George Alagiah, the veteran BBC reporter and news-presenter, about the Marie Stopes abortion centre opened in Belfast. Watch the video below or on YouTube:



Anthony's point - that any abortions which Marie Stopes will perform in Northern Ireland will almost certainly be illegal abortions - is borne out by the admission in 2007 by Paul Cornellisson, Marie Stopes' programme director in South Africa, that Marie Stopes:
"do illegal abortions all over the world"
See the video below, produced by Precious Life, our colleagues in Northern Ireland, which shows that the strategy Mr Cornellisson proposed in 2007 is coming to pass in Northern Ireland in 2012:



It should also be noted that Marie Stopes' abortion operations in Zambia were stopped by the Zambian government as recently as July, when it was discovered that Marie Stopes had performed hundreds of illegal abortions. And in 2004 Marie Stopes' staff in Kenya admitted to performing illegal abortions there too. It is therefore very welcome news that the Northern Ireland Assembly's Justice Committee has launched an investigation into Marie Stopes' Belfast clinic.

In a future blog-post I will explain why Mr Alagiah was so biased against SPUC's spokesman.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Top ethicist delivers damning opinion on Children's Referendum

A top ethicist has delivered a damning opinion on the amendment proposed in the Children's Referendum in the Republic of Ireland.

Fr John Fleming Ph.D., professor of bioethics at the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (Adelaide, Australia), a foundation member of UNESCO's International Bioethics Committee, and a corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, delivered the opinion on behalf of European Life Network, led by Patrick Buckley and based in Dublin. Full text: http://europeanlifenetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/bioethical-opinion-on-implications-of.html

In his opinion, Dr Fleming said: "It is difficult to see how the present Constitutional arrangements are not fit for purpose. The rights of the family and the child are already safeguarded". The proposed amendment, according to Dr Fleming "represents a dramatic ideological shift in both emphasis and practice", "provid[ing] a beachhead by the state into what has traditionally been the preserve of the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children."

Dr Fleming concluded that the "amendment, if passed, could potentially be a disaster for Irish families" and calls upon Ireland's Catholic bishops "to do all they can to persuade the Irish people that such a constitutional change is not in the best interests of Irish families ".

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Monday, 22 October 2012

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 22 Oct

Top story:

EllaOne morning-after pill trial is dangerous
A trial by The Co-operative Pharmacy chain of prescription-free sale of the EllaOne morning-after pill has been described as 'dangerous' by SPUC. EllaOne is claimed to work up to five days after sexual intercourse. The Co-operative Pharmacy is conducting the trial in 40 pharmacies. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, commented: "Our main concern is that EllaOne is dangerous for unborn children. As well as a form of contraception, EllaOne can also act as a form of abortion, by making the lining of the womb hostile to newly-conceived human embryos, thus killing them. [SPUC, 19 October]

Other stories:

Abortion
Euthanasia
  • Nurse's account of mother's death on Liverpool Care Pathway [Mail, 20 October]
  • Retired magistrate 'starved herself to death after being inspired by right-to-die campaigner Tony Nicklinson' [Mail, 19 October]
  • 19-year-old woke up as doctors were preparing to harvest her organs [Mail, 17 October]
Sexual ethics
General
  • Down Syndrome student crowned homecoming queen to school's standing ovation [Mail, 19 October]
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