A Catholic prelate has told politicians to examine their consciences over how they voted on the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Preaching at Mass in the Westminster parliament-building, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, reminded MPs of their duty to protect the common good. He said: "... the vast majority of politicians have given support to various attacks on human life with apparent lack of reproach from conscience." [Telegraph, 5 June]
A retired Anglican bishop who was a member of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has dismissed the idea that every human embryo has a soul, speaking instead of "primitive embryonic material". Rt Rev Lord Harries of Pentregarth called opposition to human-animal hybrids absurd and pointed out that they would only live for 14 days. Such experiments were "for an over-ridingly good purpose" such as curing serious illness. [Daily Mail, 4 June]
A body entrusted with impartially explaining the European Union's Lisbon treaty has said that it does not threaten Ireland's abortion-law. Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill, president of the Referendum Commission, said a protocol protecting the constitutional right to life was of the same legal status as an article of the treaty. [Irish Examiner, 5 June] When asked about the meaning of the removal of Ireland's veto over what the treaty calls "arrangements for the control of implementing powers" Mr O'Neill demurred. [Irish Examiner, 5 June] Patrick Buckley of European Life Network, Dublin, said: "This is an ominous development when the person who is responsible for providing impartial information is either unable or unwilling to answer it. It does not augur well for the future that there are aspects of the treaty which are undefined. Despite his denial on the abortion issue this hesitation raises major questions." The popular vote on the treaty will be a week from today.
Australia could lift a ban on funding abortion overseas. Ministers have asked a government committee whether it should lift the prohibition which resembles one in place in the USA. The opposition warns that such a move would alienate Christian support which Mr Kevin Rudd, the prime minister and a practising Anglican, courted during his election campaign. [International Herald Tribune, 4 June] Rev Dr John Fleming, adjunct professor at the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, South Australia, said: "We were very successful in getting the previous government to knock this on the head. This is in line with Labour party policy. The Labour party has a pro-choice policy with the right of individual MPs to have a conscience vote. It is highly unlikely that the Australian community would support this because the overwhelming majority of Australians give no moral support to abortion. Also, most Australians would think that foreign aid should not be tied in to these so-called choice issues but directly related to the general wellbeing of the community. Abortion is not a safe procedure for the health and wellbeing of women physically or psychologically. It's not good medicine."
A child whom his parents reportedly wanted to abort at eight weeks' gestation has survived. A scan on Finley Crampton suggested that he had inherited the multicystic dysplastic kidney gene from Ms Jodie Percival, his mother, of Nottinghamshire, England. She had an abortion which failed to kill the child who was born three weeks premature with minor kidney problems. [Daily Mail, 4 June]
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