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LIFE DIGEST: Killer of pro-life demonstrator convicted; Dutch weigh euthanasia for healthy;
Posted on Mar 19, 2010 | by Tom Strode

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WASHINGTON (BP)--The man who shot to death a pro-life demonstrator outside a Michigan high school has been convicted of first-degree murder.

Harland Drake, 34, of Owosso, Mich., was found guilty by a jury in the Sept. 11, 2009, shooting deaths of James Pouillon and Michael Fouss.

Drake confessed he killed Pouillon, 63, who was shot as he stood outside Owosso High School, where he regularly held signs of aborted babies. Drake also admitted he shot Fouss the same morning. Fouss, a gravel pit owner, previously had employed Drake's mother.

Drake told police he was "not against anti-abortion," but he didn't like the graphic signs Pouillon showed to students, according to the Flint Journal. The evening before the shootings, Drake said he planned to kill Pouillon if he were at the school the next day. "I figured if he was there, I'd make sure he wasn't there [again]," he told police in a taped recording, the Journal reported.

After the March 11 conviction of Drake, Mary Jo Pouillon, 26, said of her father's killer, according to the Journal, "I just really pray that him and his family will be able to find repentance and forgiveness."

Sentencing for Drake is scheduled for April 23.

BRIT CLINICS CAN DESTROY EMBRYOS WITH MINOR ILLS -- British fertility clinics have the government's permission to eliminate human embryos with essentially minor hereditary conditions.

The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported on a government-approved list that is the basis for destroying embryos before implantation into the mother includes such genetic ailments as Thalassaemia and Marfan syndrome.

Pete Sampras, the seven-time Wimbledon Open champion, has Thalassaemia, a blood disorder that can result in mild anemia, according to the Telegraph. It is theorized former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and former French President Charles De Gaulle may have had Marfan syndrome, which can cause abnormal growth, the newspaper reported.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has 116 disorders it allows fertility clinics to screen for, but it may add more, the Telegraph reported in late January.

Clinics are able to screen for inherited disorders by means of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). PGD is a screening method used after an embryo is conceived by in vitro fertilization. A cell from an embryo only a few days old is tested. If it shows an embryo is carrying a condition that may lead to disease, that embryo typically is destroyed, leaving only disorder-free embryos for implantation.

David King, director of Human Genetics Alert, criticized the inclusion of rather minor conditions on the HFEA's list. "It contributes to a social climate in which even minor deviations from 'normality' are seen as unacceptable," King said, according to the Telegraph.

Most pro-life advocates decry PGD's use and its attack on the sanctity of human life.

DUTCH WEIGH EUTHANASIA FOR HEALTHY -- The Dutch Parliament is considering legislation that would expand the boundaries on legal euthanasia to permit a healthy senior adult to request a lethal injection.

The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported March 10 a petition campaign had gathered 100,000 signatures to require a debate on the proposal. The measure would enable healthy people over the age of 70 to receive a fatal dose of drugs administered by trained, non-medical personnel.

The elderly who request an injection would not have to be terminally ill but may simply be "tired of living" or "consider their lives complete," according to the Telegraph.

Implementation of such a law would require at least a decade, the newspaper reported.

The Netherlands is one of three countries in which doctors can legally administer drugs to kill patients. The others are Belgium and Luxembourg. In addition, Switzerland allows physician-assisted suicide, which involves a doctor prescribing but not administering the lethal drugs.

Euthanasia involves the deliberate administration of drugs to cause a person's death at his request rather than to relieve his suffering.

'EXIT GUIDES' INDICTED IN DEATH -- Four members of the Final Exit Network, a right-to-die group, have been indicted in the death of a Georgia man.

A Forsyth County grand jury charged the four March 9 with assisting a suicide, racketeering and tampering with evidence in the death of John Celmer, 58, of Cumming, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. It is the first such indictment in Georgia's history, according to the newspaper.

Celmer had cancer but was not terminal, his doctor said, the newspaper reported.

The charges were brought after the four were arrested for supposedly helping Celmer die by inhaling helium pumped into a plastic hood placed over his head, according to The Journal-Constitution. Among the four charged is Ted Goodwin, cofounder of Final Exit and a resident of Kennesaw, Ga.

The Final Exit Network promotes the right to die not only for those with a terminal illness but those whose "quality of life is personally unacceptable," according to its website. The network provides "exit guides" to help people seeking to end their lives.

Only three states -- Oregon, Washington and Montana -- have legalized assisted suicide.

VIRGINIA POLS APPLAUD CENTERS -- Virginia lawmakers commended pregnancy help centers in the state after rejecting legislation that would have placed new restrictions on the pro-life service agencies.

During the week of March 8-12, the state's Senate and House of Delegates each passed a resolution applauding the work of the centers, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA).

The action came only weeks after legislators rejected bills in both chambers promoted by abortion rights advocates. The bills would have placed new limitations on the pregnancy centers and on the funds they receive from pro-life license plates, CNA reported.

In considering such legislation in late January, a Senate subcommittee heard testimony from pregnancy center directors, former clients of such centers and pro-life organizations. The bill's sponsor withdrew the bill after the hearing, according to CNA. A House subcommittee voted against the legislation in its chamber after hearing similar testimony, the news service reported.

A leading abortion rights organization, the NARAL Pro-choice Virginia Foundation, released a report in January charging pregnancy centers with misleading women considering abortion.

Care Net President Melinda Delahoyde commended pregnancy centers for their work. "It's not a surprise to Care Net that when people hear the truth about the good work you do, they want to praise you," she said.

Care Net, which is based in northern Virginia, supports the work of 1,180 pregnancy centers in North America.

339 BABIES SAVED -- The latest 40 Days for Life campaign reported 339 babies have been saved from abortion as of March 17.

The pro-life effort, which has occurred twice a year since the fall of 2007, consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting to end abortion, as well as peaceful prayer vigils outside abortion clinics and community outreach during the same time period. The latest campaign began Feb. 17 in 167 cities, primarily in the United States but also in Australia, Canada and Northern Ireland. It will conclude March 28.
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Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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