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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 30 June 2000

30 June 2000

30 June 2000 Government figures released on 29 June indicated that the number of teenagers having abortions in Scotland fell between 1990 and 1998, though not by as much as the number of teenage pregnancies. In 1998, just over 10,000 babies were born to girls aged 13 to 19 in Scotland, nearly 1,500 fewer than in 1990. The number of abortions in this age range during the same period fell by only 100 to 4,100. Teenage pregnancy rates in Scotland are higher than in the rest of the UK. [BBC News online, 29 June] Following Wednesday's decision by the US Supreme Court to strike down Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban, legislators in several states have already signalled their intention to draw up new laws which will withstand further legal challenges. The chief deputy attorney general of Nebraska has confirmed that one state senator has already asked his office for assistance in drafting new legislation. Commentators say that, according to the Supreme Court ruling, a partial-birth abortion ban would be acceptable if it described the procedure it banned more specifically and included an exception to preserve the health of the mother. [St.Louis Post-Dispatch,, 29 June] A senior Catholic bishop in Rome has spoken of his hopes and fears following the decoding of the human genome. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life and director of the Bioethics Institute of the University of the Sacred Heart, said: "Now we must hope that the first objective in the use of these discoveries is to prevent the causes that determine hereditary diseases and, later, guarantee better knowledge of the mechanisms that determine the formation of tumors. Of course there is the risk, which calls for an imperative appeal to responsibility, that the conquests made will be used to promote eugenics, that is, to determine the selection between healthy and sick individuals, or to give a kind of value to human existence in virtue of genetic characteristics." [Zenit news agency, Rome, 28 June] In another decision announced on Wednesday, the US Supreme Court approved by six votes to three Colorado's so-called bubble law designed to restrict anti-abortion protesters. The law, passed in 1993, established a zone of 100 feet around health clinics in which the distribution of leaflets, the displaying of signs and counselling were prohibited within eight feet of another individual without their consent. Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented from the decision, described the ruling as "one of many aggressively pro-abortion novelties announced by the court in recent years." [A.P., 28 June; from Pro-Life E-News] An American magazine has claimed that the FBI, under the auspices of the Justice Department's criminal division, has been compiling a database on pro-life groups and individuals, including the Catholic Bishops' Conference and the late Cardinal John O'Connor. Insight magazine claimed that the database, initiated after the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrance Act of 1994, included personal information such as telephone and credit card records. [EWTN News, 27 June] A report in a Hindu newspaper has claimed that the selective abortion of unborn girls in India remains rife, despite the introduction of a ban on prenatal sex determination in 1996. V G Julie Rajan argued that the only solution to the problem was to change attitudes and enhance the status of women in society. The report, published in Hinduism Today, can be seen at

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