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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 10 November 2000

10 November 2000

10 November 2000 The Italian cardinal who offered sanctuary to the family of Siamese twins Jodie and Mary in order to save Mary from being killed in an operation to separate the pair has described as "unacceptable" the fact that the parents were prevented from appealing to the House of Lords due to lack of money. Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, archbishop emeritus of Ravenna, noting that the Maltese government had recognised that the costs of a further appeal would be excessive, concluded: "Is it possible that in a civilised country like Great Britain those who have money can appeal and the rest not? In such a critical matter, do we realise that the condition of poverty is what decided everything? This is unacceptable." Meanwhile Jodie, the twin who survived the operation, was said to be making a "dramatic recovery" and is now breathing and feeding normally. [Zenit news agency, 8 November; Metro, 10 November] Bertie Ahern, the Irish taoiseach [prime minister], has insisted that no promises were made to four independent TDs [members of parliament] that a referendum on the issue of abortion would definitely be held next spring, contrary to reports in Irish newspapers. Mr Ahern confirmed that no decision would be made before the all-party committee on the constitution had presented its report and a cabinet sub-committee had considered its findings. He also denied that any decision had been made on the wording of any referendum question, or whether a question on abortion would be put to the people on its own or with a question on another issue. [The Irish Times, 9 November ] Pro-abortion pressure groups in the United States have claimed limited successes in this week's elections to congress. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League spent up to eight million dollars on its campaign in 15 states, while Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, claimed to have spent 12 million dollars nationally. Ms Feldt claimed that pro-abortionists had gained three additional votes in the House of Representatives and at least two in the Senate, but regretted that still "almost all key committee chairs likely will be antichoice". [A.P. via New Jersey online, 9 November ] As Canada prepares for a general election later this month, the Liberal party of prime minister Jean Chrétien has officially confirmed its support for abortion. The announcement came in a response to a questionnaire submitted by the Campaign Life Coalition. Terry Mercer, the Liberal party's executive director, signed a statement which confirmed the party's support for "a woman's right to choose" abortion and added that "a Liberal government will not introduce amendments to the criminal code with respect to abortion". The Liberal party had not previously held an official pro-abortion stance. [LifeSite Daily News, 9 November ; also see news digest for 23 October ] Switzerland's federal social security department announced on Wednesday that private health insurers will have to cover the RU-486 abortion drug from next month. RU-486 was authorised for use in Switzerland in October 1999, since when 2,300 women have used it. There is no Swiss state-run health service and so all citizens must take out private health insurance. [A.P. via Reinsurance News Network, 8 November ] A new law which would create so-called buffer or bubble zones around abortion clinics in the American state of Massachusetts, thus restricting the activities of pro-life demonstrators and counsellors, is due to come into effect tomorrow. Police have been painting boundary lines around abortion facilities, but pro-life campaigners have asked a federal judge to grant an emergency order preventing enforcement of the new law on the basis that it unfairly discriminates against pro-lifers. Dwight G Duncan, an attorney representing the campaigners, pointed out that the law exempted abortion clinic staff who remained free to cajole prospective customers to come inside. [The Boston Globe, 9 November ]

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