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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 7 June 2000

7 June 2000

7 June 2000 Provisional figures indicate that the total number of abortions carried out in England and Wales last year fell for the first time since 1995. There were a reported 173,696 abortions in 1999, compared with 177,871 in 1998. In 1995 there were 154,315 abortions, rising to 167,916 in 1996 and 170,145 in 1997. These figures do not include Scotland, and refer to residents only. The number of non-resident women who have abortions in England and Wales every year is now about 9,500. In 1998, over three quarters of these came from Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic. [Daily Telegraph, 7 June, and Office for National Statistics] The Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth has warned that current medical research is threatening the sanctity of life. In a speech delivered at Windsor Castle in England, Professor Jonathan Sacks asked, "Will we know where to stop, will we be able to draw the essential line between therapeutic and eugenic gene surgery?" He went on to say that the sanctity of life is rooted in the non-substitutability of one life for another, and affirmed "that persons are ends in themselves and not means; that they are sacred and not gratifications of someone's desire". [Daily Telegraph, 7 June; BBC News Online, 6 June] The British Department of Health has advised almost 5000 women with breast implants made of soya bean oil to have them removed due to fears that they could cause cancer and damage unborn children if ruptured. A government advisory committee warned that women with such implants should not plan pregnancies or breast feed. [Daily Telegraph, 7 June] The US Food and Drug Administration has proposed that all doctors who prescribe the RU-486 (or mifepristone) abortion pill should have to be listed on a public registry. The pill, which would be taken in the first three to six weeks of pregnancy, is in the final stages of approval for marketing in the United States. Pro-abortion campaigners have reacted angrily, claiming that such a requirement would greatly diminish the number of doctors willing to prescribe it for fear of retaliation. Dr Michael Burnhill, of the Planned Parenthood Federation, said, "This is an extraordinary measure that is supposed to be restricted to products that truly have an immensely terrible outcome." [Scripps Howard News Service, 6 June; from] Doctors in Alberta, Canada, will be allowed to inject a fatal dose of sodium chloride into the hearts of seriously malformed unborn babies to prevent them from being born alive under new rules being considered this week by the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons. 'Do not resuscitate' orders will also be drawn up if parents or physicians find the procedure, known as feticide, unacceptable. The move comes after a baby with 'lethal defects' was born alive at Foothills Hospital last year and left without food or fluids for 12 hours until it died. A police investigation concluded that the baby had received proper care. Selective feticide has already been used for some time in the case of women wanting to reduce multiple pregnancies. [The Calgary Herald, 6 June; from Pro-Life E-News] Alison Davis, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children's handicap division, commented, "By using the term 'lethal defect', they are implying that the baby is almost dead. In fact they are going to great length to kill the baby. The most important thing to remember is that each human being has infinite value, whether their life lasts one second or 100 years." 51.7 percent of Americans believe that the decision to have a late term abortion should be left to the mother and her doctor, according to a recent Zogby/Reuters poll. On the other hand the same poll indicated that 44.4 percent believed that abortion in most circumstances was legalised murder and should be outlawed except in cases when the mother's life was in danger. [Yahoo! News, 5 June] The American Life League has been prevented from placing advertisements in New York subway trains. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority refused to sanction the photo of an 8 week-old unborn child in the womb with the slogan "Please don't do it. She's your baby", despite accepting large numbers of advertisements from abortion providers and abortion-rights organisations. [Zenith news agency, New York, 6 June]

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