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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 7 August 2000

7 August 2000

7 August 2000 A state in northern Mexico has voted to ban abortions in cases of rape. Legislators in the northern state of Guanajuato passed the ban, which will take effect from 1 October and carry a penalty of ten years in prison for abortion practitioners who ignore it. A statement issued by the legislators explained their reasons: "We have to consider not only the damage and pain of a woman who has been raped but the greater evil that would occur with the death of an innocent minor." Abortion is regulated at state rather than federal level in Mexico. In most of the 31 states, abortion is allowed only in cases of rape or to save the mother's life, and in some it is illegal altogether. [Washington Post online, 4 August; Life Advocacy Briefing, 7 August] Italian military police in Kosovo have closed down five private abortion clinics where abortions were being performed beyond the legal time-limit and in unhygienic conditions. The five doctors involved were also working at the public hospital in Pristina [Kosovo's capital]. Kosovo is currently being administered by the United Nations, although Yugoslav law, under which abortion is permitted up to the fourth month of pregnancy, is still in force. [Reuters, Yugoslavia Today, 6 August] Amid concerns at Europe's falling birthrates, figures published in the UK have indicated that the number of young adults declined by more than 13 per cent during the 1990s. The data published by the Office for National Statistics indicated that the number of people aged between 16 and 29 declined from 12.4 million in 1991 to 10.7 million in 1999. [The Times, 4 August] A man in the American state of Virginia is seeking custody of his unborn baby, now at 8 months' gestation, claiming that the mother is unfit to raise the child on account of her "lifestyle and her economic circumstances". Alphonso Brooks asked a circuit court in Roanoke to give him custody of the child once he or she is born, but Chevette Hunter, the baby's mother, claims that Brooks never wanted the child. She already has two children, not fathered by Brooks. Mr Brooks' attorney is arguing that the case goes to the heart of the abortion debate because it centres upon when an unborn child becomes a person subject to the protection of the courts. He argued that, since an unborn child is viable 8 months into pregnancy, it can be protected by law, although this view is contested by other legal experts. [Washington Post online&CWNews, 4 August]

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