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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 June 2000

16 June 2000

16 June 2000 The Catholic bishops of Ireland have said that they should be allowed to appear before the [Oireachtas] committee currently looking into the abortion issue so that they can express their views in public. Representatives from many groups and organisations expressed their views at public hearings in April and May, but no churches were asked to appear. Various Christian bodies, including the Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists, have made written submissions to the committee, and in total more than 100,000 submissions have been received so far. [EWTN News, 15 June] A report in the British Medical Journal has claimed that 75 percent of pensioners would like 'living wills' in which their healthcare wishes could be expressed in advance of a terminal illness, and over 90 percent would be prepared to specify a point at which they would no longer wish their lives to be prolonged. The study, undertaken by the Imperial College School of Medicine in London, was based on interviews with 74 hospital patients aged between 66 and 97. Rebekah Schiff, who led the research, said: "Many disabilities were so unacceptable [that] most pensioners, especially the women, said they would prefer 'comfort only' care to active treatment, even if they might die." [Daily Express&Daily Telegraph, 16 June] The new Catholic archbishop of La Platt, Argentina, has said that Argentinian delegations at international meetings should always defend life from conception to natural death, just as President Fernando de la Rua has committed himself to. At the recent UN meeting to assess progress since the 1995 Beijing conference on women, Argentina did not speak out in defence of life as it had done on previous occasions. The archbishop also warned against current legislative proposals in Argentina which make use of euphemisms such as 'reproductive health' and which entail "the open or hidden promotion of abortion" as well as contraception, but have no respect for the family or freedom of conscience. [Zenit news agency, Buenos Aires, 15 June&EWTN News, 15 June] Pro-abortion campaigners have been meeting in Washington DC to draw up plans of action to fight proposed restrictions on the RU-486 mifepristone abortion pill. Possible strategies include advertising campaigns, direct mailings and the lobbying of members of congress. Meanwhile, Republican congressman Tom Coburn plans to introduce a measure which would refuse federal funding for the testing, development and approval of abortion drugs. [Wall Street Journal, 13 June; from Pro-Life E-News] Dr Nitschke, the Australian euthanasia campaigner, has announced plans to set up suicide-advice clinics in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. He said that the centres would give legal advice to relatives and information about lethal dosages and potential dangers. Neither the New Zealand Medical Association nor Hospice New Zealand supports euthanasia. Graham Capill, leader of the Christian Heritage party, said that more attention should be paid to care and pain relief for the terminally ill instead. [The Press, New Zealand, 16 June] A legislator in the American state of Ohio is mounting a campaign to introduce state car licence plates displaying the words "choose life". A proportion of the cost of each special set of plates would help fund crisis pregnancy centres which urge pregnant women to keep their unborn children. Ron Young has already collected 1,100 signatures for his plan and will now introduce the necessary legislation. Florida and Louisiana already have "choose life" licence plates and similar bills are pending in another six states. [The Cincinnati Post, 15 June] Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative opposition spokesperson on home affairs in the UK, has said that she will give the 100 pounds compensation awarded to her by a magistrate after a flan was thrown in her face to an anti-abortion group. [BBC News online, 15 June]

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