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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 28 April 2000

28 April 2000

28 April 2000 Three United Nations bodies have jointly published a manual which promotes the use of so-called emergency contraception. The manual, bearing the names of the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the World Health Organisation, is entitled "Reproductive Health in Refugee Situations : An Interagency Field Manual" and has been delayed for two years due to its controversial nature. It promotes the right of women to have access to 'emergency contraception', and also the rights of children to reproductive health services without the consent of their parents. The document claims that 'emergency contraceptive pills' do not constitute abortion because pregnancy cannot be said to begin until the embryo has been implanted into the mother's womb, despite the fact that this assertion has been rejected by medical doctors at recent UN conferences. However, concerted efforts by pro-life lobbyists have succeeded in having this clause contained within inverted commas and an additional passage included acknowledging that the view does not command universal consensus. Furthermore, the document now concedes that health workers and women should not have to use or administer 'emergency contraception' if they have moral objections, and that all women should undergo counselling before being given it. Abortion was prohibited as a method of family planning at the U.N. Cairo Conference in 1994. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 22nd April, and private sources] Scientists in the United States have produced a herd of six cloned cows which appear to have younger cells than a normal animal and so could live for up to 50% longer. This is in contrast to Dolly, the first cloned sheep, whose cells appear to be the same age as the ewe from which she was cloned. The new technique could be important in the field of 'therapeutic' stem cell research because the rate of ageing of a cloned embryo could be altered. This would mean that stem cells harvested from such an embryo could be used to supply crops of youthful cells to treat people with age-related illnesses. In each case the embryo would then be destroyed. [The Daily Telegraph&Metro, 28th April] The British Ministry of Defence has paid £21,500 in damages to a female lance corporal who was told by senior army officers to have two abortions or risk being hounded out of the service. [The Independent, 28th April] In the United States, the Florida Senate has become the latest to pass a partial-birth abortion ban, despite the fact that commentators expect the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out Nebraska's similar ban in late June or early July. The Florida bill is expected to pass in the Florida House and be signed into law by pro-life Governor Jeb Bush before the Supreme Court ruling. One state senator claimed that the ban has 82% support within Florida. [Miami Herald, 27th April (from Pro-Life Infonet)] The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a pro-life bill which would prohibit the use of federally-controlled drugs in assisted suicides and promote palliative care as an alternative to assisted suicide or euthanasia. All 43 people who have taken their lives under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act since 1998 have used federally controlled substances to die. President Clinton has not said whether he would sign the bill if it passed the Senate. [Pro-Life Infonet, 27th April] A candidate for the leadership of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance has said that if elected to power his government might conduct national referenda on abortion and capital punishment. Mr Tom Long opposes abortion and capital punishment but does not believe that parliament should concern itself with such matters. He is a major contender for the post which would automatically make him leader of the official Canadian Opposition. [The Globe and Mail, 28th 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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