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LIFE DIGEST: Judge blocks Texas hospital’s termination of care for young boy; …

WASHINGTON (BP)–A Texas probate judge stands between a critically ill 17-month-old boy and no medical care.

Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman will hold a hearing April 19 in the case, which involves a decision by the Children’s Hospital of Austin, Texas, to discontinue its care for Emilio Gonzales. Herman issued a temporary restraining order April 10, forcing the hospital to continue Emilio’s treatment and providing more time for another medical facility to be found for the boy.

Until Herman’s ruling, the hospital was scheduled to remove Emilio from a ventilator April 11.

Emilio, who has been in the hospital since December, is believed to have Leigh’s disease, a nervous system disorder that normally does not permit sufferers to reach their teenage years, according to National Right to Life News. Emilio not only is on a ventilator to help him breathe, he also has a feeding tube.

The case has brought Texas’ “futile care” law into the limelight. The 1999 state law empowers a hospital ethics committee to agree with doctors who believe further treatment of a patient is medically futile and to require the patient to be transferred within 10 days or have his care discontinued.

“This is a value judgment,” wrote bioethics specialist Wesley Smith on his weblog at bioethics.com. “Members of ethics committees should have no right to impose their values over those of patients and families. Let us hope the Texas legislature revokes Texas’ misbegotten futile care law.”

Emilio’s mother, Catarina Gonzales, 23, told NRL News she realizes there is “no cure” for her son.

“I know my son is going to die,” she said. “But I want him to die when God calls him, not when someone pulls the plug.”

KILL THE KIDS, AT LAST — Howard Johnston finally has gained what he has fought for during more than five years of legal battles — the right to have his embryonic children destroyed.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Johnston, who lives in Gloucester, England, had the support of British law in refusing to allow six embryos created by in vitro fertilization to be implanted in his former fiancée’s womb, BBC News reported April 10.

The decision ended the hopes Natallie Evans, Johnston’s former fiancée, had of preserving the embryos.

“I am distraught at the court’s decision,” said Evans, 35, the BBC reported. “It is very hard for me to accept the embryos will be destroyed.”

The embryos were produced by IVF while the couple was together in 2001, according to the BBC. Evans was infertile from cancer treatment. Under British law, both parents must consent before the embryos are implanted.

When their engagement ended in 2002, Johnston asked the clinic to destroy the embryos. Evans took the case to court, arguing she should be able to use the embryos without Johnston’s permission, since he had agreed to their creation and use.

After Evans lost in the British court system, she appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. She lost in that court in March 2006 but appealed to its Grand Chamber, the BBC reported. The Grand Chamber ruled unanimously the right to life would not be violated in the case.

According to the BBC, Johnston said, “I feel common sense has prevailed. Of course I am sympathetic, but I wanted to choose when, if and with whom I would have a child.”

ABORTION BAN FALLS IN PORTUGAL — Portuguese President Cavaco Silva signed into law April 10 legislation that legalizes abortion in the traditionally Roman Catholic country through the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, LifeNews.com reported.

The law, which was approved by Portugal’s Parliament March 8, reverses a ban that had exceptions in cases of rape or a “malformed” fetus, or to protect the mother’s life or health. The latter condition was narrowly interpreted. The previous law required imprisonment for women who broke it.

It was one of the most conservative abortion laws in the European Union. After Portugal’s action, only Ireland, Malta and Poland will remain as European countries that ban abortion.

Brazil, another Portuguese-speaking country, also may be moving toward liberalization of an abortion ban. Jose Gomes Temporao, Brazil’s minister of health, has called for a debate on abortion and legislation to legalize the procedure, LifeNews reported. The current law prohibits abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. An August poll found 63 percent of Brazilians support that law.

Cuba and Guyana are the only Latin American countries to legalize abortion, but abortion rights advocates in other countries in the region are seeking to loosen restrictions, according to LifeNews.

APPROVING IMAGES — The Georgia Senate approved April 11 legislation requiring a woman seeking an abortion to be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound image of her unborn child before she undergoes the procedure.

The 36-17 Senate vote followed House of Representatives approval, which was by 116-54, according to LifeNews.

The South Carolina Senate, meanwhile, weakened April 12 a bill that would have required a woman to view an ultrasound of her baby before having an abortion. The new version does not force a woman to watch an ultrasound, only to be given the opportunity to view one, LifeNews reported.

The Senate is expected to pass the new measure, according to LifeNews.

The Georgia bill also requires an abortion clinic to provide for a woman a list of doctors and clinics that will perform ultrasounds without charge, LifeNews reported.

Nine states have enacted bills requiring doctors to offer ultrasound viewings to abortion-minded women. They are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

Increasingly, crisis pregnancy centers in the United States have added ultrasound machines to serve women considering abortion.