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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 July 2000

6 July 2000

6 July 2000 A British study has concluded that some unexplained miscarriages could be due to a surge of oxygen which hits an unborn child between the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy. Graham Burton of Cambridge University and Eric Jauniaux of University College, London, published their findings in New Scientist magazine. They suggested that taking high levels of antioxidant vitamins during pregnancy may protect unborn babies from the destructive free radical molecules formed by the oxygen, although a further study into the safety of taking the vitamins is now planned. [The Times, 6 July] A junior minister has reaffirmed the British government's policy of promoting so-called reproductive health rights around the world. In the House of Commons, Ms McCafferty (a Labour MP) asked the minister: "Will he do everything possible to ensure that the sexual health and reproductive rights of adolescents and women are regarded as human rights and are part of the government's international development policy?" George Foulkes, the under-secretary of state for International Development, replied: "Yes ... I can reassure her that the gains made in Cairo were successfully defended in Beijing, despite the persistent efforts of hard-line states to undermine them. We would like much more explicit commitments to women's sexual rights, particularly the right to control their own sex lives, but a number of conservative countries are still blocking that." In an answer to a subsequent question, Mr Foulkes specifically mentioned abortion in this regard. [Hansard, col.316, 5 July] [Further information : According to the technical definitions prepared for the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 1994, derived from the World Health Organisation, "reproductive health" entails access to "methods of fertility regulation". "Fertility regulation" in turn is defined as: "Delaying childbearing, using contraception, seeking treatment for infertility, interrupting unwanted pregnancies and breastfeeding." The term "interrupting pregnancies" is simply a euphemism for abortion on demand.] Polly Toynbee, a well-known pro-abortion newspaper columnist in the UK, has said that the teenage pregnancy unit is planning a major advertising campaign in the autumn to let young people know that morning-after pills and abortions are freely and easily available. She wrote that this campaign will help to counter the present situation in which "only half the under 16s opt for abortion : it is not promoted in schools, which are bombarded with pro-life horror videos". [The Guardian, 5 July] The so-called baby bank initiative in Hamburg, Germany, has announced its first success. The first baby, born three weeks prematurely with its umbilical cord apparently having been cut by the mother, was deposited anonymously two months ago has now been adopted. The scheme, called Operation Foundling, was established in April to reduce the growing number of newborn babies being abandoned and left to die by their mothers. [ABC News online, 5 July]

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