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PRO-LIFE NEWS IN BRIEF.

Woman Recovers from Long Coma

An Indiana woman woke from a months-long coma and has since made a steady recovery and even gave birth to a baby. Heidi, 29, told the Terre Haute Tribune-Star that she is thankful for her recovery: "I have beat the odds all the way round."

Heidi was a college student with a young daughter, Briana, in July 1996, when another driver smashed into the driver's side of her car. Heidi's injuries caused hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain, which required several surgeries to correct, the Tribune-Star reported.

In June 1999, four-year-old Briana found her mom unconscious on the floor. A shunt that had been placed in Heidi's brain to drain the fluid had become infected. Despite more surgery and antibiotics, Her condition worsened over the next few months. Heidi's aunt, Margaret Cheesman, visited her in the Indianapolis hospital during this time. "She was blank and gray, and she looked like a little skeleton. It just broke your heart," Cheesman told the Tribune-Star. "I said, `She'll never live.'"

Heidi's mother flew her to Loma Linda University Medical Center in California for shunt replacement surgery on October 1, 1999.

"Heidi never came to after [the surgery]," her mother Theresa Cheesman told the Tribune-Star. Heidi remained in a coma, with her mother's constant care and support, until June 2000. She suddenly asked, "So where is this place?" and continued talking for 20 minutes that first day.

Dr. Walt Johnson of Loma Linda told the Tribune-Star that Heidi's awakening "can't fully be explained" in scientific or medical terms. But everyone agrees that the love and care given by Heidi's mother played a large part in her recovery.

"The real miracle of this story is her mother," Dr. Johnson told the Tribune-Star. "She was on top of every little thing - - if there was a rash, a temperature change, if Heidi was a little more awake or a little less responsive."

After months of physical therapy, Heidi was able to return home to Terre Haute in spring 2001. Her second daughter, Paige LeighAnn, entered the world on February 9, 2004, to join now eight-year-old Briana. "I prayed all the time, but my daughter is perfectly healthy," Heidi told the Tribune-Star. "There's a God, and he's blessed me numerous times."

Bill Introduced to Repeal Australian Ban on Euthanasia

A member of Australia's federal parliament has introduced a bill that would repeal the 1997 Euthanasia Laws Act, which banned euthanasia and overturned a Northern Territories (NT) law that allowed it.

Australian Democrat Senator Lyn Allison announced March 2 that her bill would put the NT law back into effect and would also allow other states to legalize euthanasia, the AAP news service reported.

"In my view individuals should have the right to die at a time and by a means of their own choosing," Allison said, according to the Canberra Times. "Euthanasia should be a choice that is freely made by those who wish to die and those who are willing to assist them."

Pro-life groups quickly denounced the bill, saying it would threaten the lives of many vulnerable Australians. "The overwhelming evidence accepted by parliamentary inquiries into euthanasia conducted in countries across the world is that it is dangerous to give someone the power to kill another person," Federation of Right to Life Associations spokeswoman Mary Joseph said in a statement, according to the AAP.

"Vulnerable people who are sick, aged or depressed would be at risk of a lethal injection rather than getting the help they needed."

Even the NT chief minister called Allison's bill "rude," saying that restoring the euthanasia law is not a priority for the state. "I'm a bit surprised on the part of Lyn Allison that she didn't speak to anyone in Territory parliament," Clare Martin told the Northern Territory News. "We made it very clear, if she'd talk to me, that voluntary euthanasia legislation wasn't on our agenda."

Mother Sues after Baby Survives Abortion Attempt

A mother in Scotland is suing her general practitioner for [pounds sterling]30,000 (about $54,000) for failing to detect that she was still pregnant following an abortion attempt. The baby survived because by the time the "failed" abortion was confirmed, it was too late for a second abortion try.

Leah Murray, 26, claimed that she had severe postpartum depression after the birth of her first child, according to the Daily Mail. When she discovered she was pregnant again in August 2000, she decided to abort the baby. The abortion took place at Forth Park Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in October.

The hospital notified Murray's general practitioner, Dr. John Chalmers, that the abortion was completed. Five days later, still feeling pregnant, Murray made an appointment with Chalmers, who diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection. He did not perform a pregnancy test, according to the Daily Mail.

Murray failed to keep a scheduled abortion follow-up appointment at the hospital, and also canceled visits with Chalmers set for November, the Daily Mail reported.

"By failing to keep appointments which had been arranged for her, she was in breach of her duty to take reasonable care for her own well-being," Chalmers contended in court papers, according to The Scotsman. "On both occasions, there would have been sufficient time for a further termination of the pregnancy to have been carried out."

In January 2001, Murray went back to the doctor's office and saw a different general practitioner. The doctor confirmed that she was still pregnant.

"She was around 20 weeks pregnant and was unable to proceed with a further termination," Murray's court petition said, according to The Scotsman. "She was immediately worried that the child would be deformed or brain-damaged, as she had undergone a termination. She was required to undergo a pregnancy, during the course of which she was worried about the condition of the baby."

No details were reported about the baby's birth or health, only that Murray delivered a baby girl. The court papers stated that she again suffered postpartum depression, according to the Daily Mail.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Woman Pleads Guilty to Drowning Newborn Baby

A Pennsylvania woman pleaded guilty March 5 to third-degree murder and "abuse of a corpse" for drowning her newborn baby and disposing of the body. The baby's body was found in a Clinton landfill in November 2002.

Police traced evidence to the trash bin of Trina Young, 25. Prosecutors alleged that Young gave birth in her bedroom October 25 of that year, drowned the baby in a bucket, and then threw the body in the garbage bin, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Young's attorney challenged autopsy results that found the baby was not stillborn but was killed after a live birth. Chief Public Defender David Crowley asked the judge to enforce a common law standard to determine whether the baby was ever "alive." Crowley contended in a motion that the common law standard would require proof that "the baby breathed during a separate existence apart from its mother," Centre Daily News reported. The motion asserted that a pathologist's report showing air in the baby's lungs is insufficient because "the baby can breathe during the birthing process."

Prosecutors acceted the plea bargain on the day Judge Thomas Kistler was scheduled to hear arguments on Crowley's motion. Young received a prison sentence of 6 to 12 years, according to the AP.

Miraculous Recovery for Chinese Man

Xu Youliang of Lanxi City, China, shocked his doctors in 2001 when he opened his eyes after eight years in a coma. He can now speak, sit up, and raise his hand, and will continue to receive therapy to further his recovery, Xinhua news agency reported.

Xu was a 24-year-old teacher in 1993 when his student slipped from a cliff edge. Trying to save him, Xu grabbed the student, but they both toppled from the cliff. The student died, and Xu's injuries sent him into a coma, according to Xinhua.

Despite growing debt from his care, his family continued to hope that he would emerge from the coma. "We'll never give up as long as he's still got breath in him," Xu's mother Zheng Genxiang told Xinhua. Family members stayed with him every day, feeding him through the nose and helping keep his limbs stretched. Finally, he woke from the coma in 2001.

Xu is able to speak simple words, smile, shake hands, and swallow. "He's always had faith in the doctors and himself," Qian Yuefang, a specialist for paralytic patients at a nursing home where Xu is receiving treatment, told Xinhua. "His recovery is incredibly fast, though he still cannot say full sentences."

The local community has stepped forward to help his family afford his care. The nursing home has forgiven some bills, and the area education authority has raised funds. High school students have also donated their own money for his treatment, Xinhua reported.
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Publication:National Right to Life News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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