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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 14 April 2000

14 April 2000

14 April 2000 Today's UK parliamentary consideration of the Medical Treatment (Prevention of Euthanasia) Bill was inconclusive. MPs did not finish debating the first of five groups of new clauses and amendments. The Bill's report stage will resume on the fifth of next month, when it is in second place on the agenda. A British survey of embryos frozen for in vitro fertilisation has shown that two thirds of them were destroyed with three quarters of these being disposed of because donor couples failed to respond to attempts to contact them. Writing in The Lancet, Dr Brian Lieberman suggested that childless couples were often deterred from using frozen embryos by the cost of continuing treatment. Scientists at Manchester University had investigated the fate of 1,344 embryos frozen during treatment in two clinics between 1988 and 1994. [The Times, The Guardian&Metro, 14th April] The British health secretary has said that he was appalled to discover hospital doctors had regularly been writing "do not resuscitate" orders on the notes of elderly patients. Alan Milburn ordered an urgent enquiry after yesterday's revelations concerning a 67-year-old woman in Portsmouth. The government's deputy chief medical officer also said that such age discrimination was unacceptable and would be dealt with. A spokesperson for the hospital concerned admitted that the controversial note was put there "inappropriately". [Metro&Daily Mail, 14th April] A Republican congressman has introduced a non-binding resolution stating that the "presence of brain-wave activity and spontaneous cardiac activity should be considered conclusive evidence for all legal purposes for the presence of human life". This would mean that unborn children "should be considered alive and eligible for constitutional protections". Heartbeats are noticed in unborn children at between 18 and 23 days' gestation, and brainwaves can be picked up at between 40 and 42 days. Mr Tom Coburn said: "If our laws respect the laws of nature in recognising death, they must also respect the laws of nature in recognising life." The resolution, which has 28 other sponsors, should be voted on by the summer. [Gannett News Service, Washington Times, 13th April (from Pro-Life Infonet)] The measure to ban partial-birth abortions which was passed by the US House of Representatives last week has now been passed by the Senate, but not with a sufficient majority to overturn an expected veto from President Clinton. [Gannett News Service, Washington Times, 13th April (from Pro-Life Infonet)] A candidate for mayor of London has said that he would offer financial support to mothers who would otherwise opt for an abortion, just as Cardinal Winning has done in Glasgow. Mr Ram Gidoomal is the candidate for the Christian People's Alliance, which church leaders of various denominations have urged Londoners to consider supporting, both for the post of mayor and for the new greater London assembly. [Catholic Herald, 14th April] Geri Halliwell, a former member of the Spice Girls, is to address 100 secondary school pupils at a United Nations conference in London tomorrow (15th April) on the subject of sexual health and population issues. The event's sponsors include abortion provider Marie Stopes International, the computer company Microsoft, the British government's department for international development and the pro-abortion United Nations Fund for Population Activities (for whom Ms Halliwell has been working as a goodwill ambassador). Student LifeNet, a pro-life group, is planning to mount a demonstration outside the venue. [Catholic Herald, 14th April] The Catholic Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand, is to follow the lead of Cardinal Winning in Glasgow and Cardinal O'Connor in New York by providing financial assistance to pregnant women regardless of creed or circumstances to avoid their having abortions. The scheme is Bishop Patrick Dunn's own initiative and he will make his personal money available if needed. [Catholic Times, 16th April] Pope John Paul II has observed that many techniques meant to generate human life have actually turned into assaults on life. He was addressing the subject of superfluous embryos generated as a result of in vitro fertilisation in a speech to the 3,500 participants at an international congress on the foetus as patient. [Aid to the Church in Need, from Catholic Times, 16th April] [This bulletin is privately circulated by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children,, 5/6 St Matthew Street, London, United Kingdom, SW1P 2JT, +44 20 7222 3763. The reliability of the news herein is dependent on that of the cited sources, which are paraphrased rather than quoted. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the society. Please forward this bulletin to other interested parties. To unsubscribe, send an appropriate email to]

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