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No. 43 • July - December 2006 • Page 239
 •  Initiatives

London -- (England) Celebrating Life

More than 150 doctors, health assistants and students participated in a special forum on ethics in modern health care organized by the London Diocese of Westminster in conjunction with Netherhall House, whose facilities were made available for this purpose. The forum was held on Saturday, December 2.

The forum was opened by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster. He was followed by Philip Howard, adjunct professor at St. George Hospital Medical School and specialist at the St. Helier/Epson NHS Trust. Prof. Howard presented an analysis of the principles underlying the encyclical Evangelium Vitae of John Paul II. “Human dignity is the key to understanding our common goal in medical ethics. Being a human person,” Prof. Howard said, “means being the subject of inalienable rights, above all the right to life.”

The forum included a question session moderated by Sarah Johnson, a journalist. Some of the questions raised were: Will doctors be able maintain their right to conscientious objection against certain practices in the light of changes being introduced into the law? What is the difference between contraception and natural family planning? How can one explain to a colleague that a fertilized single cell embryo is a human being when the majority of doctors are materialists? Responding, among others, were a well known doctor from the LIFE organization, Dr. Anne Carus, an expert in NaProtechnology, a system of treatment for infertility by ethical means that has a 50% success rate; Charlie O’Donnel, a specialist in intensive care; and Helen Watt, director of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics.

Closing the forum, the Director of Pastoral Affairs for the Westminster Diocese, Mr. Edmund Adamus, reminded those present that the “Celebrating Life” forum had made clear the need to spur research in all fields of medical ethics, especially those related to the origin of human life.

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