A Breakthrough in Growing Embryos

Scientists are excited about their findings after leaving embryos to grow past the normal moment they’d be implanted into a womb. There is a legal limit on how long you can allow an embryo to develop outside the womb, 14 days, but even that might soon change as scientists argue it should be extended so they can discover more.

It used to be up to a week that scientists would study a fertilised egg before it was implanted into the womb, but with the extra days scientists have discovered many things about the early stage of development which often results in developmental defects and failure to implant. So all this extra information that they’ve been able to glean should help them reduce infertility in the future.

embryo -a new organism in the earliest stage of development. In humans this is defined as the developing organism from the fourth day after fertilization to the end of the eighth week. 

foetus – a prenatal human (before birth) which is between its embryonic state and its birth.

Remember that at 24 weeks of pregnancy in England a foetus can no longer be aborted. Meanwhile Catholics believe that from the moment of conception a new life has been created and Muslims think that even though abortion is wrong if the mother’s life is at risk then up to 120 days the mother’s life has more value than the foetus.

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Exit International – a pro-Euthanasia organisation

This week Professor called Avril Henry, aged 81, both had her house raided by police and killed herself. She was a member of an organisation called Exit International, who support Euthanasia and the police raid had resulted after a tip off from Interpol that she had illegally imported drugs in her house, ready to use to kill herself.

Henry wasn’t terminally ill, but he suffered from numerous chronic health conditions which she said made her life difficult, including recurring urinary tract infections, ear infections and cardiac and renal problems. She didn’t want to live anymore and wanted medical professionals to end her life peacefully.  She had hoped to travel to Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal,but with  her health declining quickly she had decided that travelling wasn’t a possibility and she’d rather die at home.

GCSE RS students need to have an opinion on whether euthanasia should ever be legalised in England and Wales.

Euthanasia is never out of the news

A hot topic, and something debated in Year 10 RE lessons as part of Unit 1 Section 2 (Matters of Life and Death), it seems that every week you’ll find it in the British news.

Last week there was a Dutch minister who said he regretted how the Netherlands had legalised euthanasia and that he feared Britain would make the same mistake.

Meanwhile this week it is the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey who has announced his support for the proposal to legalist assisted dying as a way of preventing “needless suffering”.

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As peers prepare to debate a bill next Friday to legalise assisted dying, the former head of the worldwide Anglican church said it would not be “anti-Christian” to ensure that terminally ill patients avoid “unbearable” pain. The assisted dying bill, due to be debated next Friday at second reading in the House of Lords, would legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill in England and Wales.

The Church of England is strongly opposed to the bill. But in an article for the Daily Mail, Carey said he had changed his mind after witnessing the pain of Tony Nicklinson who suffered from locked-in syndrome. He died two years ago just weeks after losing his high court battle.

Carey wrote: “The fact is that I have changed my mind. The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.

“It was the case of Tony Nicklinson that exerted the deepest influence on me. Here was a dignified man making a simple appeal for mercy, begging that the law allow him to die in peace, supported by his family. His distress made me question my motives in previous debates. Had I been putting doctrine before compassion, dogma before human dignity?

“I began to reconsider how to interpret Christian theology on the subject. As I did so, I grew less and less certain of my opposition to the right to die.”

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The Falconer bill would allow doctors to administer a lethal dose of drugs to terminally-ill patients with less than six months to live who have the mental capacity to make an informed choice. The patient’s condition would have to be assessed by two doctors.

The former archbishop wrote of how he challenged his own thinking as he re-read the Scriptures. He wrote: “One of the key themes of the gospels is love for our fellow human beings … Today we face a terrible paradox. In strictly observing accepted teaching about the sanctity of life, the church could actually be sanctioning anguish and pain – the very opposite of the Christian message.”

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, the chair of Inter-Faith Leaders for Dignity in Dying, welcomed Carey’s intervention. Romain said: “The former archbishop’s words are like a breath of fresh air sweeping through rooms cloaked in theological dust that should have been dispersed long ago. He shows that it is possible to be both religious and in favour of assisted dying.”

MPs and peers will be given a free vote on the bill. Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat care minister, is expected to support the measure.