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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 18 August 2000

18 August 2000

18 August 2000 An editorial in today's British Medical Journal has called for the increased promotion of abortifacient forms of birth control. Professor Basil Donovan was responding to a survey published in the same journal which suggested that half of teenage girls who become pregnant in the UK were being prescribed the contraceptive pill. The professor said that doctors should encourage more permanent methods of birth control, such as the IUD [which is widely regarded as an early abortifacient]. The research carried out by the University of Nottingham also revealed that teenagers who have an abortion were more likely also to have been prescribed the morning-after pill. [Daily Telegraph&Metro, 18 August] The Vatican's official newspaper has strongly criticised the British government's support for human cloning. Fr Gino Concetti wrote in L'Osservatore Romano that "the decision can only provoke indignation among those who respect the value and the fundamental right to life of a human being." He also condemned the recommended time-limit for experimentation of 14 days after the creation of an embryo and wrote: "A human is an individual before 14 days and after 14 days." Dr Evan Harris, health spokesman for the UK's Liberal Democrat party, said that he hoped Catholics would ignore Church teaching on this issue. Cardinal Winning, archbishop of Glasgow, said: "The Vatican is simply expressing the views of all right-minded people. Therapeutic cloning involves the killing of a very small human being and as such the Church condemns it." [Daily Mail, 18 August] A tiny premature baby who was left to die in an English hospital has survived and her parents are now preparing to take her home. Abigail was born 15 weeks prematurely in May at a hospital in Cambridge before being moved to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk. A few days later she suffered a brain haemorrhage, leaving her with cerebral palsy, and after nine weeks doctors recommended that she be left to die and disconnected her life support machine. Her face turned blue, but then she took one huge breath and has been described as fighting fit ever since. [Metro, 18 August] The governor of the Mexican state of Guanajuato has announced that he will ask a polling firm to survey the views of the state's citizens before deciding whether to approve or veto the legislature's recent vote to ban abortion in cases of rape. Governor Ramon Martin Huerta has refused to reveal his own views on the matter. Meanwhile, Mexican President Vincente Fox has said that he would not support a ban on abortion in rape cases at the federal level. [AP, Washington Post, 17 August] The partial-birth abortion bans in Louisiana and Ohio have been struck down by federal judges. Louisiana will not appeal, but Bob Taft, governor of Ohio, intends to fight to see his state's law upheld. In a separate development, a federal judge has struck down Colorado's law which required minors to obtain the consent of their parents or guardians before having an abortion. The law had originally been passed by the state's voters in a 1998 ballot. [AP, New OrleansNet, 17 August; Reuters, Yahoo! News, 17 August; AP, Washington Post, 17 August]

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