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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 July 2000

17 July 2000

17 July 2000 The Oireachtas committee on the constitution has concluded its public hearings on the abortion issue in Ireland with submissions from groups in favour of abortion. Last Wednesday, members of the Cork Women's Right to Choose Group called for abortion on request up to the twelfth week of pregnancy, and a three-member delegation from Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) supported the seventh option listed on the green paper, which would permit abortion for economic or social reasons. The American National Conference of Catholic Bishops had contacted the committee to insist that CFFC did not speak for the Catholic Church and distorted its teachings. [The Irish Times online, 13 July] Earlier in the month an Islamic submission to the Oireachtas committee had insisted that abortion should be forbidden in all cases except when the mother's life was in danger. Mr Arif Fitzsimon, spokesman for the Islamic Cultural Centre in Ireland, said that a threat of suicide by the mother should not be sufficient reason for abortion. The delegation stressed that every innocent life should be protected, and so abortion could not be justified in cases either of rape or foetal abnormality. Sheikh Halawa, another member of the Islamic delegation, was asked for his view in the case of a baby being born without a brain with only 24 hours to live. He replied: "If the doctors say that he will only live 24 hours he still has the right to these 24 hours." [The Irish Times, 6 July] News that a male contraceptive pill could be on sale within five years has met with a warning from the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland that it would lead to more unplanned pregnancies and abortions. A spokesman observed that these had been the result of the "contraceptive morality" which took hold after the introduction of the female contraceptive pill, and added that "the advent of the male pill will be another step in that direction." [BBC News online, 17 July] A writer whose book in the 1980s concluded that severe post-abortion trauma does not exist has acknowledged that abortion is nevertheless a painful and upsetting experience. Angela Neustatter, writing in The Guardian, said that she had faced no moral dilemma in deciding to have an abortion herself, but observed: "... what I had not reckoned with was the immense sadness and sense of profound failure I would feel afterwards, nor the continuing regret that makes me wish the choice could have been otherwise." Angela Neustatter remains a commit ted pro-abortionist and makes her point to warn other so-called pro-choicers against presenting abortion as an easy choice. [The Guardian, 17 July] The co-ordinator of Cardinal Winning's Pro-Life Initiative in Glasgow, Scotland, has described the fact that public bodies refuse to give any financial support to women who wish to keep their babies as a "scandal". Sister Roseann Reddy spoke of the pressure put on women to have abortions when "instantly pregnancy is seen as a problem and the solution is abortion". She wrote: "We work closely with family planning and social services, but although they can give unlimited contraception and abortion provision, they don't have a single resource to help women choosing to keep their babies." [Catholic World News, 14 July] The Catholic bishops of Canada have criticised the government's decision to permit clinical trials of the RU-486 abortion pill. Bishop Gerald Wiesner, president of the country's bishops' conference, wrote to the health minister to stress that the Church has "consistently and strongly opposed" the introduction of the drug. He noted that the trial involving 1,000 women would result in the destruction of 1,000 human beings, and added that the promotion of abortion was an offence against the "profound sensitivities and religious beliefs of people throughout the country". The bishop said that society should support women in need rather than promoting abortion. [Zenit news agency, Toronto, 14 July]

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