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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 August 2000

1 August 2000

1 August 2000 The Irish attorney general has said that changing the law to allow abortion in cases of rape would be unworkable. Mr Michael McDowell, who was criticised by the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva earlier this month for Ireland's ban on all abortions except to save the mother's life, said that it would be impossible to distinguish between a false and genuine claim of rape in time for an abortion to be carried out. He also warned that making rape the means of access to abortion would result in a series of false accusations of rape. He said: "It might be thought that there would be a temptation to characterise sexual intercourse on an occasion giving rise to pregnancy as nonconsensual with a view to availing of that right." [The Irish Times&CWNews, 31 July] George W Bush yesterday received the official nomination of the Republican party to contest the US presidential election in November. Mr Bush's name was put forward unopposed on the first day of the party's national convention and opinion polls suggest that he currently enjoys a lead over Al Gore, his main rival for the presidency, of between five and 12 percentage points. On Friday, the Republican party's platform committee voted to maintain the strong anti-abortion language in its official policy statement, despite the efforts of a vocal pro-abortion minority. The panel voted by 10 votes to 3 against an attempt to throw out all statements concerning abortion, and by 11 to 3 against an amendment expressing "recognition and respect" for both sides of the abortion debate. As it stands, the platform maintains the right to life of unborn children without any exceptions, and calls for a constitutional amendment to ensure this. [Metro, 1 August; Pro-Life Infonet, 30 July; Associated Press, 27 July] The government of Nicaragua is considering moves to grant unborn babies legal protection and to abolish the current provisions which permit abortion when the health or life of the mother is thought to be at risk. These provisions are said to have been exploited by women's centres which provide abortions and are funded from abroad. Nicaragua, which earlier this year instituted an annual national day of the unborn, has been told by the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund that aid to the country will be stopped if family planning programmes continued to contain what it termed "discrepancies". Nicaraguan government ministers have publicly rejected UN reproductive health programmes which entail access to abortion. [LifeSite Daily News, 28 July] Australia's prime minister has announced that his government will attempt to overturn the federal court ruling [reported in yesterday's digest] which threw out bans imposed on single women receiving in-vitro fertilisation treatment. The ruling stated that the bans passed by two Australian states contravened the Sex Discrimination Act, but Prime Minister John Howard proposed an amendment to the Act such that it would allow individual states to express the wishes of their communities on such a matter. The federal government itself has no constitutional power to legislate on IVF. [Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August] Police in Iran have arrested five workers at an illegal abortion centre after receiving complaints from local people. The five employees were accused of "wilful interruption of pregnancy" and their facility, located in the central province of Isfahan, was dismantled. Iran has banned all abortions, except to save the mother's life, since the Islamic revolution in 1979. [Sri Lankan Sunday Observer, 30 July] A judge in Anchorage has given the US state of Alaska 90 days to start funding the abortions of poor women. The state's policy of providing medical care for poor pregnant women who continue with their pregnancies but not for those who seek abortions was ruled discriminatory and unconstitutional in March 1999. Now the state has been told to pay 17 months of outstanding claims. The state legislature had voted to bar all abortion payments except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother's life. [Associated Press, 28 July]

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