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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 9 June 2000

9 June 2000

9 June 2000 The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has reacted strongly to a new booklet about abortion for children as young as 14. Paul Tully, the society's general secretary, described 'Abortion - just so you know' as "an abuse of women". He warned of the Family Planning Association booklet's "serious errors" and bias. He said, "A young woman who reads this booklet will be thoroughly mis-informed about what an abortion will do to her and her baby." Mr Tully also pointed out that no reference was made in the booklet to the physical and psychological dangers of abortion to women, and that there was no mention of organisations which offer women other choices. Anne Weyman, chief executive of the FPA, said the booklet addressed a real concern among teenagers for more information on the subject, which they no longer saw as a taboo. [BBC News Online, 9 June&SPUC media release, 8 June] Cardinal Thomas Winning, archbishop of Glasgow, has defended the right of the Catholic Church to speak out on life issues. He said, "It is because the Church loves that she speaks out. And so when we criticise the loophole in the law which we believe could allow backdoor euthanasia, when we say that handing out abortifacients is wrong, we do so because we care. To follow the politics of the parapet, ducking every time an issue is raised, is unworthy of Christians. For them it is simply not an option." [Daily Telegraph, 9 June] A leading evolutionary biologist has admitted that there are "quite hard moral problems" associated with the imminent sequencing of the human genome. In an interview for the Independent newspaper, John Maynard Smith said the problem is where to draw the line. He continued, "Some people might be willing to abort an embryo that has Down's syndrome; but what about later-stage Huntington's Chorea (which strikes in the late 30s) or Parkinson's disease?" [Independent, 9 June] The number of abortions performed in Nebraska dropped by 11.2 percent down to 4,565 last year, the biggest fall since recording began in 1973. Commentators proposed different reasons for the downward trend, including greater use of contraception and the state-run abstinence programme. Governor Mike Johanns suggested that the reason lay in a climate which encouraged birth and adoption rather than abortion. During the past ten years, both the abortion rate and the birth rate for the United States as a whole have been gradually dropping. [Lincoln Journal Star, 8 June] Lawmakers in the American state of Rhode Island are considering a bill which would restrict the dispensing of drugs used for chemically induced abortions to doctors. A Department of Health ruling last December allowed midwives, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to dispense the drugs. Some members of the House Judiciary Committee described the measure as a necessary step to protect women, and claimed that 44 other states have similar legislation, but opponents saw it as an anti-abortion bill and argued that the health workers in question are now given adequate training and can prescribe other powerful drugs. [The Providence Journal online, 7 June]

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