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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 15 August 2000

15 August 2000

15 August 2000 The mayor of Mexico City has approved a proposal to liberalise the city's abortion laws. Under the new provisions, abortion would remain illegal in most cases but the range of exceptions would be expanded to include a threat to the health of the mother and the detection of serious foetal abnormalities, as well as the current exception for rape. Mayor Rosario Robles signed the proposal yesterday, although it still has to be approved by the city's legislature. The move comes only days after the legislature of Guanajuato, another Mexican state, voted to eliminate its only exception to a complete ban on abortion. Following much criticism, Ramon Martin Huerta, the successor of newly-elected Mexican president Vincente Fox as governor of Guanajuato, has refused to endorse the measure in its original form and has called for further consultations. [BBC News online, 15 August; Washington Post, 14 August; LA Times, Hispanic Vista, 11 August] A Catholic hospital in the USA has been criticised by the local archbishop after its ethical committee recommended the withdrawal of hydration and nutrition from a patient considered to be in a so-called persistent vegetative state. Steve Becker, aged 29, had not regained consciousness following an operation last February. Mr Becker's wife agreed to the withdrawal of the tube supplying food and water, despite the fact that Mr Becker himself had refused to sign any document consenting to this beforehand. His mother and aunts then secured a court order to continue the tube feeding, but the hospital is not now providing him with antibiotics despite an infection and he is unlikely to survive until the next court hearing in September. Archbishop Justin Rigali of St Louis issued a statement in July insisting that all patients had a right to food and water, and last Friday an editorial in the archdiocesan newspaper rejected "any course of action that leaves a patient susceptible to death through lack of care..." [Zenit news agency, 14 August] Australian scientists have claimed to have successfully completed all the major steps involved in so-called therapeutic cloning using a mouse. Professor Alan Trounson, of the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development in Melbourne, said that his research demonstrated that the same technique could realistically be applied to human beings. A committee of the Australian House of Representatives is currently considering the issue of so-called therapeutic cloning. Meanwhile the Donaldson Committee is expected to recommend permitting research into the cloning of human beings in Britain tomorrow. [BBC News online, 14 August] The New York Post has reported that a leading abortionist in the US, Dr Martin Haskell, has donated 250 dollars to Hillary Clinton's election campaign. Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, observed: "Martin Haskell, the king of partial-birth abortion, whose surgical scissors have punctured more babies' skulls than any other doctor in the United States, knows who will defend his interests in the US Senate." [New York Post, 14 August; from Pro-Life E-News] Pro-life television advertisements which urge women to have second thoughts before having an abortion are to be shown in Los Angeles, California, this week. The advertisements, which were launched in Philadelphia last month, show how things might have been for one woman who had an abortion if she had instead chosen to keep her child. Feelings of emptiness would have been replaced by the wonderful joys of motherhood. [Concerned Women for America, from Pro-Life E-News, 11 August] The advertisement can be viewed in full at http://cwfa.org/secondthoughts

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