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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 June 2000

20 June 2000

20 June 2000 The Northern Ireland legislative assembly is due to debate the abortion issue today. Mr Jim Wells, a Democratic Unionist member for South Down, said that the British government had hinted that it wants to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, even though "most Catholics and Protestants find the idea of abortion morally wrong and abhorrent". Mr Wells, who revealed that 79 out of 108 assembly members had signed a petition backing his motion, said, "A heavy No vote in the assembly will make it very, very difficult for government to even start this process." [BBC News online, 20 June] [Abortion is presently illegal in Northern Ireland, but responsibility for abortion legislation has been reserved to the UK parliament in London.] The British government has announced a campaign to persuade pregnant women to stop smoking in a bid to cut miscarriages and stillbirths. It is claimed that 400 children die in the UK every year before or shortly after childbirth as a result of their mother's cigarette habit. The initiative will cost 1 million British pounds and include a 'kick the habit' telephone hotline. [Daily Mail, 20 June] A baby who was very nearly aborted in Brazil received baptism yesterday in Anapolis Cathedral, and her 15-year-old mother made her first Holy Communion during the same service. Fabiana Silva had been raped and was 5 months pregnant when she requested an abortion. The pro-life movement mobilised, the hospital received 30 telephone calls an hour as well as faxes and e-mails, and eventually the doctor decided against the abortion. Fabiana decided herself to keep the baby, and she and her mother have been receiving much help from pro-life benefactors. The baby boy is called Vitor (meaning victorious one) and Fabiana has not even had to interrupt her studies. [Zenit news agency, Anapolis, 18 June] A researcher into the effects of abortion on women has criticised the American media for not covering the findings of a study funded by the Finnish government [carried in SPUC's news digest on 13 June]. Dr David Reardon said, "Even worse, abortion counsellors continue to lie to American women. They are telling women that abortion is safer than childbirth, when this and other irrefutable studies prove exactly the opposite. The entire body of medical literature clearly shows that abortion contributes to a decline in women's physical and mental health." [Zenit news agency, Springfield, Il., 19 June] [Dr Reardon's study, printed in the Post-Abortion Review, can be seen at ] A member of the team that created Dolly, the first cloned sheep, has admitted that expectations for the technology have been unfulfilled. Professor Keith Campbell of Nottingham University, UK, said: "Cloning is turning out to be very expensive and very inefficient." A report in the current issue of Science magazine claims that even after cloned embryos are implanted in a surrogate mother's womb, only two in 100 are successfully born. [Daily Express, 19 June] Meanwhile, scientists in China have announced that the first goat to be cloned from an adult cell has died only 36 hours after being born. Professor Zhang Yong of Northwest University, Xian, China, said: "The death means that cloning technology leaves much room for improvement." [BBC News online, 19 June] The American Medical Association has agreed on a softened version of the resolution which Catholics had feared would mean their hospitals' being forced to offer various reproductive services. The House of Delegates affirmed the policy that physicians should not be coerced into doing anything which violated their moral principles. The Catholic Health Organisation described this as a victory, while Dr Delmar Tonge, chairman of the California delegation which had proposed the original resolution, said that the AMA and Catholic hospitals would now work together to help steer patients towards facilities which did offer reproductive services. [Associated Press, 15 June; from Pro-Life E-News]

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