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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 July 2000

25 July 2000

25 July 2000 A member of the British parliament has announced plans to introduce legislation to allow embryo stem cell research. Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat member for Oxford West and Abingdon, will introduce his ten minute rule bill on 31 October. There will be insufficient parliamentary time for the bill to proceed because no more private members' time is available until after the new session of parliament begins with the Queen's speech, probably in November. The move comes at a sensitive time, however, as the report of the Donaldson Committee on the issue of human cloning is expected to be published soon. [SPUC, London] A convent in Germany has revived a practice from the fifteenth century by providing a hatch through which mothers can place their unwanted babies. On the outside there is a fingerprint pad so that mothers can leave proof of their identity in case they want to reclaim their child. After eight weeks without the mother returning, her child would then be put up for adoption. On the inside there is a warm bed and a bell to alert the sisters. This particular scheme, run by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Love of the Good Shepherd in Munich, is similar to schemes already running in Hamburg, Hungary and South Africa. [Daily Telegraph, 25 July] It is reported that George W Bush, the Republican US presidential candidate-elect, will name Dick Cheney, a firm opponent of abortion, as his vice-presidential running mate. Mr Cheney, who was chief of staff under President Ford and defence secretary under President Bush Snr, had a 100 percent pro-life voting record during his time in Congress from 1979 to 1988. He has also signalled his support for a constitutional amendment to guarantee all human beings the right to life regardless of their stage of development, and has expressed his opposition to any legislation which would permit or facilitate assisted suicide. Meanwhile, every vice-presidential candidate considered by Al Gore, the Democratic party's hope for the presidency, supports abortion. [BBC News online, 25 July; Associated Press, NRL, Pro-Life Infonet, 24 July] Marie Stopes International (MSI), a worldwide provider of abortions, is expanding its operation in Uganda. The charity announced that it had raised 4 million US dollars for its clinical programmes in the country, and will expand family planning and so-called reproductive health facilities to 11 new districts as well as adding three more clinics to its present total of six. Tim Black, chief executive, also said that MSI hopes this year to sell over 15 million condoms in the country. [The Ugandan Monitor, 24 July] MSI operates in many countries around the world, but claims to provide abortions only in Britain, Albania, India, Romania, South Africa and Vietnam. Abortion is officially illegal in Uganda except to save the mother's life, so MSI concentrates upon "family planning and reproductive healthcare". [MSI&CRLP websites] A report in a Thai newspaper has observed how politicians are avoiding the "explosive" issue of abortion at all costs after an attempt to amend the abortion law 20 years ago ended in failure for the pro-abortion lobby. Abortion is presently illegal except in cases of rape or danger to the mother's [physical] health. The article, which is pro-abortion in its tone, reported on a recent conference of pro-abortionists which discussed how to change minds in an environment where legal change was unlikely. It read: "Many advocacy groups believe that pushing for legal change will lead nowhere when public understanding is still governed by gender prejudice and high-minded morality." [Bangkok Post, 25 July]

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