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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 May 2000

16 May 2000

16 May 2000 The Daily Mail newspaper in Britain today published claims that nurses are routinely demanding that elderly patients be classified as not for resuscitation. The story, which originally formed the main front-page headline but which was moved to page two in later editions, draws on a leaked letter written by Ronan McGivney, an orthopaedic surgeon at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, Lancashire, to the hospital's medical director. He said that doctors faced a "strong push" from nursing staff to subject elderly patients to 'do not resuscitate' orders, despite the fact that a rigorous consultation process should be undertaken first. Earlier this year the doctor in charge of intensive care at the same hospital made similar complaints about the treatment of elderly patients. [Daily Mail, 16 May] The number of abortions each year in Poland has dropped from around 160,000 before the fall of communism to just 250 last year. In 1993 the Polish parliament severely restricted abortion and during the one year when abortion on demand was re-introduced (1997) only 1,200 women chose to end their pregnancies. Lech Kowalewski, a Polish member of the International Right to Life committee, concluded that abortion restrictions had helped to educate women and that the law could influence opinions. Furthermore, fears that abortion restrictions would lead to unsafe back-street abortions have proved groundless. In fact, Dr Jack Willke of the Life Issues Institute said, "There are fewer [gynaecological] admissions to Polish hospitals today than there were when abortion was legal. There are fewer women dying of [gynaecological] problems." [Family News in Focus, 10 May] Further to the news summary above, Mr Kowalewski has told us that in four years there has not been one single reported case of a mother dying as a result of an abortion in Poland, either legal or illegal. Clearly, then, the legal restriction on abortion has not led to more women being injured in back-street abortions as some had feared. He also clarified the current situation with regard to abortion in Poland. It is illegal with three exceptions : the life or health of the mother is in danger; the pregnancy is a result of a crime such as rape or incest; the unborn child is severely handicapped. [SPUC, London] As expected, the general conference of the pro-abortion United Methodist Church in the United States has followed the recommendation of an advisory panel in voting to oppose partial birth abortions. The motion last Friday was carried by 622 votes to 275, although exceptions were made if the mother's life were in danger or if "severe fetal abnormalities incompatible with life" were observed. [Associated Press, from Life Advocacy Briefing, 15 May] A mother in Arizona who was suing doctors for 180,000 US dollars after they failed to detect her pregnancy in time for an abortion has lost her case. Ruth Ann Burns argued that her son, Nicholas, now aged two, had become a financial burden on her and her boyfriend. She claimed that by the time the pregnancy was confirmed it was too late for an abortion, but defence attorneys argued that she knew how to obtain a second trimester abortion herself because she had done so before in 1995. Her first abortion was in 1993. [The Arizona Republic, 15 May] Canadian Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, archbishop of Toronto, has scaled down financial support given by the Catholic Church to an organisation connected with a pro-abortion women's group. The Catholic Organisation for Development and Peace had supported the March of Women 2000 coalition, which is organising rallies and educational forums in 154 countries. The Canadian Women's March Committee, part of the coalition, includes pro-abortion groups such as the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, and lists access to abortion as one of its 59 demands. Mary Corkery, spokesperson for Development and Peace, regretted the decision because most of the aims of the campaign are about peace, human rights, the alleviation of poverty and other such causes. Terry Thompson, director of Toronto diocese's fund-raising arm, nonetheless insisted that abortion, as well the legitimisation of same-sex relationships, another of the demands, were "incompatible with our participation." [National Post Online, 15 May] [Subscribers to our news digest in the U.K. might like to know that the Science Museum in London will be debating euthanasia on 31 May. The organiser is Harriet Wood, who can be contacted on 020 7942 4357]

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