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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 November 2000

6 November 2000

6 November 2000 The operation to separate Siamese twins Jodie and Mary is underway as this digest is being written. The operation at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, England, will take up to 18 hours and involve the death of Mary when the fused spinal cords are separated and Mary's blood supply is cut off. A last-ditch attempt by the Pro-Life Alliance last Friday to halt the operation failed in both the High Court and then in the Court of Appeal. [BBC News online, 6 November ] Members of the student union of Cambridge University, England, have voted by almost two to one against affiliation to the National Abortion Campaign [NAC]. College representatives had originally voted in favour of affiliation, but a referendum was called after complaints that this vote had taken place without consultation. A total of 5,640 students voted, four times as many as had been expected. 3,341 were against affiliation, with 1,827 voting in favour and 472 abstaining. Elsewhere in England, the universities of East Anglia, York and Warwick have also recently voted against affiliation to the NAC, despite the official pro-abortion policy of the National Union of Students. [Cambridge University Pro-Life Society press release, 3 November; also see news digest for 26 October ] The government of New Zealand has revealed that it now has no plans to fulfil its promise to liberalise abortion laws before the next general election. The government had planned to introduce legislation in line with the recommendations of the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) which were to remove abortion from the Crimes Act and redefine it as a health matter between a woman and her doctor. The present law stipulates that two physicians must agree to an abortion, which can only be performed to avert serious danger to the physical or mental health of the mother. However, there are currently 15,500 abortions in New Zealand every year and Dr Christine Forster, chairman of the ASC, admitted that abortion was already essentially available on demand. Ken Orr, spokesman for New Zealand Right to Life, pointed out that the ASC was appointed by parliament to uphold the right to life of unborn children and was thus failing in its statutory duty. [New Zealand Herald, 6 November ] A former United States ambassador to the Vatican, who was appointed to the post by President Clinton and has been a life-long Democratic voter, has said that he will vote for the Republican candidate George W Bush in tomorrow's presidential election on the issue of abortion. Describing the Democratic party's support for partial-birth abortions as "unconscionable", Ray Flynn said: "I'm an American. I'm a Catholic. If that means being disloyal to the Democratic Party, so be it." [Zenit news agency, 5 November] Following the Vatican's insistence that doctors and pharmacists should refuse to prescribe or dispense the abortifacient morning-after pill, the governors of northern Lombardy (around Milan) and Latium (around Rome) have issued a joint statement in which they affirm that their areas would "protect the right to life". Despite the government's position that pharmacists would be breaking the law if they refused to supply the drug, the two governors said that the rights of pharmacists to conscientious objection would be respected. The morning-after pill went on sale in Italy last Monday, each pack costing about nine US dollars. [AFP, 3 November; from Pro-Life E-News] It has been reported that Jane Fonda, the film actress, donated 11.7 million US dollars in September towards a new group called Pro Choice Vote which aimed to promote the pro-abortion message in the run-up to tomorrow's US elections. Whoopi Goldberg and Sarah Jessica Parker, also actresses, appeared in advertisements placed by the organisation. [AP, 3 November; from Pro-Life Infonet] The Catholic archbishop of Ottawa, Canada, has criticised comments made in favour of abortion by prime minister Jean Chrétien during an appearance at a Catholic school. Mr Chrétien had described himself as a Catholic but then went on to say that he believed it was a woman's choice whether to have an abortion, not the choice of her husband. Bishop Marcel Gervais responded: "I was very disappointed in the prime minister's statement ... we are called to respect life ... we are called to a greater dignity and a greater responsibility and this must be addressed by our politicians if our nation is to be truly great." [LifeSite daily news, 3 November ]

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