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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 June 2000

6 June 2000

6 June 2000 The Italian city of Niscemi in Sicily is offering subsidies to pregnant women in financial difficulties as part of an initiative to reduce the number of abortions. The city's Window for Infancy programme allocates 6000 US dollars to every woman who refuses an abortion, as well as providing assistance to children in need and supporting infant services such as day-care and recreation centres. Franco Cutuneo, a member of the city council, said that the idea came to him after a nurse explained that the majority of women who opt for abortions do so because of socio-economic pressures. [Zenith news agency, Niscemi, 5 June] The state of Arizona's refusal to pay for poor women's abortions, except in cases of incest or danger to the mother's life, has been ruled unconstitutional. The court in Maricopa county ruled that the state would have to fund abortions if doctors agreed that a mother's medical problems would be worsened if she continued with her pregnancy. The state will now decide whether to appeal. The US federal government, which pays for the bulk of Arizona's public health care cost containment scheme, does not fund abortions. [The Arizona Republic, 3 June] The Christian Medical and Dental Society in the United States has urged the Senate to pass the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999. The legislation would encourage doctors to prescribe adequate pain relief at the end of life but ensure that no physician would abuse medicine by deliberately ending a patient's life. David Stevens, the Society's executive director, said that lessons should be learnt from the experience of euthanasia in Holland, where reports have claimed that 76 percent of patients were killed without any explicit consent. [CMDS press release, 5 June; from Pro-Life Infonet] Delegates from 181 countries, together with many other groups, observers and experts, are meeting in New York for a special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to evaluate the implementation of the Sixth World Conference on Women held in Beijing five years ago. The five-day conference will close on Friday. Debate will have covered various controversial topics, including access to "reproductive health" which many people see as entailing access to abortion. The Vatican delegation has urged the conference to address the general development of women rather than focusing on ideological currents. [Zenith news agency, New York, 5 June], an internet site which encourages ethical investments, has revealed that the Ford Foundation has contributed millions of dollars to nominally Catholic pro-abortion groups in Latin America. Catholics for a Free Choice in Latin America and Catholics for the Right to Decide received 875,000 US dollars in 1998 alone. [, seen on 6 June] The decision by the US Food and Drug Administration on whether to authorise general use of the RU-486 abortion pill could come before the end of the year. The pill works by blocking the effects of progesterone, halting foetal development and causing the unborn child to detach from his or her mother's uterine wall. Results of a recent study into its use, and other interesting pieces of information, are contained within an article published in the Rochester News, 5 June. It can be viewed at

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