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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 June 2000

1 June 2000

1 June 2000 An appeal court in Germany has allowed pro-life campaigners to liken abortion to the Nazi holocaust. The authorities at a hospital in Nuremberg where abortions are performed had originally won a court ruling preventing protesters from distributing leaflets which described abortion as murder and used the phrase "Holocaust then, Babycaust now". The federal court in Karlsruhe, in overturning the ban, acknowledged the fundamental nature of the issue and the importance of freedom of speech. It stated that the leaflets "expressed the opinions of the authors that today's practice of abortion is a mass extermination of life". Abortion is technically illegal in Germany but tolerated under certain conditions. [Daily Telegraph, 1 June] A draft of a new European Charter of Fundamental Rights outlaws human cloning, as well as eugenic practices and financial gain from the human body. The document, obtained by The Times newspaper, lists 50 rights in a wide variety of areas. The newspaper observed that pro-life groups might be able to claim that the charter prohibits abortions on the grounds of genetic abnormalities in unborn children. If the final version were incorporated into European law, it would override the national laws of European Union member states, although the British government is reported to be hostile to both the idea and content of the charter and could use its veto. [The Times, 1 June] A study released by UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, has claimed that selective abortions, as well as infanticide and inferior access to food and medicines, have led to there being 60 million fewer women globally than demographic trends suggest there should be. The report said: "They are victims of their own families, killed deliberately or through neglect, simply because they are female." [The Independent, 1 June&ABC News online, 31 May] A prominent Canadian abortionist has called on the federal government to force all provinces to cover the cost of abortions. Dr Henry Morgentaler said that the government declared abortion medically necessary in 1995 but that a two-tier system existed because some provincial health plans covered abortions and others did not. [Calgary Herald News, 1 June] A parliamentary committee in South Africa is to hold public hearings next week on the implementation of the country's abortion legislation. The hearings will not revisit the moral debate surrounding the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, passed in 1996, but will consider issues such as the victimisation by hospital management of staff involved in abortions and the need for more trained staff. [SAPA, 30 May, from ANC daily news briefing] The director of the Sri Lankan Family Planning Association has called for abortion to be legalised in the country, as it was in India five years ago. Claiming that illegal abortion clinics operated all over the country, Dr Bassnayake urged that, as a first step, abortion should be allowed in cases of foetal abnormalities, rape and failure of contraceptives. She criticised religious organisations which have objected to the calls. [Daily News, Sri Lanka, 31 May]

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