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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 31 May 2000

31 May 2000

31 May 2000 A computer error has meant that 154 pregnant women in the UK were told that there was a lower risk of their unborn babies having Down's syndrome than was actually the case. The women, whose routine pre-natal checks were analysed at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, are now between 18 and 35 weeks pregnant and will have to decide whether to go ahead with an amniocentesis test which can endanger unborn children. The normal time limit for abortions in Britain is 24 weeks' gestation, but these women could still be offered them because the law allows abortion up to birth in cases of handicap. [Daily Telegraph&Metro, 31 May] Alison Davis, co-ordinator of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children's handicap division, said, "This story is demonstrative of society's attitude of fatal discrimination against disabled people." Doctors in Uganda have voted in a debate against the legalisation of abortion. The Uganda Medical Association held a debate last Thursday on whether abortion should be legalised, and the main proposer of the pro-abortion motion, Dr Dickson Opol, said, "We must preserve life, but specifically human life. We must differentiate between biological and human life." However, the motion was defeated. The debate was the first in a series which will also consider the legalisation of euthanasia. [New Vision, on Africa News Online, 29 May] A pilot study in Scotland aimed at reducing the abortion rate in Lothian by giving women free [abortifacient] morning-after pills to keep at home has run into trouble because only 13 percent of the 30,000 women needed to produce reliable results have volunteered to participate. 30,000 postcards urging women to join the scheme will now be delivered to every home in the region, which has the highest abortion rate in Scotland. Dr Anna Glasier, who is leading the project, said, "Having a pack at home is like having a pack of aspirin in case you have a headache." The Catholic Church has objected to the initiative. [The Herald&Daily Record, 30 May] Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, observed, "Pills like these have been heavily promoted for years yet their use has not brought down the overall rate of surgical abortions." The fact that only one percent of children in Japan are born out of wedlock, once a source of national pride, has now been blamed for the fact that the country has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. The Guardian newspaper in Britain has reported Japan's shrinking population and what it calls "a series of increasingly desperate public and private moves to halt the country's alarming slowdown in the number of births." [The Guardian, 30 May] A survey of 192 women in the United States who became pregnant through rape or incest, and who either had abortions or carried to term, has suggested that abortion only adds to their pain and trauma. The survey, published in a book entitled 'Victims and Victors', also claims that most of the women did not want abortions but felt pressured to have them. None of the women in the sample who carried to term regretted giving birth, and many said that their children had brought peace and healing to their lives. Dr David Reardon, a member of the team which compiled the information, said, "Abortion increases the sense of isolation and shame by allowing others to pretend the problem doesn't exist." Of 32,101 pregnancies resulting from rape in the USA in 1996, about 20,000 ended in abortion. [Elliot Institute, 30 May, and Washington Times, from Pro-Life Infonet, 30 May] Reacting to the news that 154 pregnant women have had faulty tests for Down's syndrome, the wife of Damon Hill, former Formula One world champion, has said that their eleven year-old Down's syndrome child "has brought us such joy". [Daily Mail, 30 May] [Mrs Hill has spoken before of the pressure put on her by doctors to have an abortion when tests showed that her child would be born with the condition.]

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