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News, 19 December 2000

19 December 2000

19 December 2000 The British House of Commons will vote on the government's statutory instrument which would authorise research on cloned embryos this evening at 7pm. From a pro-life perspective, this is the most significant vote in the British parliament for years. The technology spokesman for the Church of Scotland has joined the many voices which have been raised against the proposals. Dr Donald Bruce said that the new regulations would mean that human embryos would be treated with less respect than animals. [The Herald, 18 December] The leader of the official parliamentary opposition in Great Britain has tabled a motion calling on the government to withdraw its statutory instrument which would make the abortifacient morning-after pill available from pharmacists without prescription from the first of next month. Mr William Hague's motion, known in parliamentary language as a prayer, has also been signed by the Conservative opposition's chief whip and health spokesmen. Mr John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said: "We are greatly encouraged by the strong stand taken by the opposition against the government's promotion of prescription-free morning-after pills, which represents a particular danger to young girls. We call upon MPs of all parties to sign today's motion." [SPUC media release, 19 December ] Two Church of England bishops have spoken out this week in favour of both the morning-after pill and destructive research on cloned human embryos. Rt Rev Tom Butler, Anglican bishop of Southwark, used the Thought for the Day programme on the BBC's national Radio Four to say that the morning-after pill could be seen as something good. He observed: "Ends don't justify means but they are a consideration. Unwanted teenage pregnancies are a great evil which blight lives." Rt Rev Richard Harries, Anglican bishop of Oxford, wrote an article entitled "Why we need to clone" in The Tablet journal, explaining why he supports destructive research on human embryos. He insists that pre-implantation embryos should not be accorded the same rights or status as human persons and that, therefore, it is acceptable to treat them as means to an end. Even though they should be accorded a "special status", the cleric argues that this could "be overridden by other weighty considerations", specifically the "real therapeutic possibilities" of cloning research. [The Tablet, 16 December] Official figures released by the Canadian federal statistics agency have indicated that there were 110,331 abortions performed on women resident in Canada during 1998. This total represents a decline of 1.2 percent from the year before. The Statistics Canada data indicates that more than half of Canadian women who obtained abortions in 1998 were in their 20s, and that, on average, 27 women out of every 1,000 in their 20s had abortions. The province with the highest number of abortions was Ontario (46,918) followed by Quebec (28,852) and then British Columbia (15,689). Quebec had the highest abortion rate (19.38 per 1,000) while Prince Edward Island had the lowest rate (4.95 per 1,000). [LifeSite Daily News and Statistics Canada , 18 December] The pro-abortion United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has announced that only two representatives of each non-governmental organisation (NGO) will be allowed to participate at any one time during the 10-year review of the Convention on the Rights of the Child next year. Pro-life lobbyists have claimed that the move has been designed specifically to restrict their activities. They have pointed out that the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organised a conference in 1998 at which only six pro-life non-governmental organisations were allowed to participate, out of a total of more than 800, after a quota was placed on pro-life lobbyists. [CWNews and C-fam, via EWTN News, 18 December] A Catholic bishop in the United States has condemned his country's government for the way it promotes abortion overseas and treats unborn human life at home. Bishop Paul S Loverde of Arlington likened the US to ancient civilisations which practised human sacrifice, pointing out that "Mexico in 1531 was ... one of the most technologically advanced nations in the western hemisphere ... [where] it is estimated that 50,000 people a year, and one out of every five children born, were sacrificed." [LifeSite Daily News, 18 December ] The Californian nurse who was told to leave Nicaragua amid accusations that she had committed illegal abortions [see news digest for 15 December ] has been allowed to stay by a Nicaraguan judge because she had not received proper notification. It is reported that this decision may be appealed. [LifeSite Daily News, 18 December ]

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