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News, 12 October 2000

12 October 2000

12 October 2000 The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has denied claims that it plans to legalise abortion by way of the forthcoming Bill of Rights. The claims are made in a leaflet being distributed by the Precious Life group, but a spokesman for the Commission said: "...we have not even discussed the matter. The Commission does not hold any position on the abortion issue." [The Belfast Telegraph, 11 October ] Reports that the British government will tomorrow allow insurance companies to refuse cover or increase premiums for those shown by genetic tests to be prone to Huntington's disease have caused the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children to express its concern that such a precedent could eventually lead to fatal discrimination against the unborn. Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC, said that the move was discriminatory and would lead to more pre-natal genetic testing and abortion. [Daily Mail, 12 October; SPUC media release, 12 October ] The Catholic bishops of France have criticised proposals to liberalise the country's abortion laws. In a statement issued by the permanent council of the bishops' conference, signed by Archbishop Louis-Marie Billé of Lyons, they insisted that such a move could not be justified. They also stressed the need to acknowledge the pain caused by abortions to the women who procured them, and appealed to politicians to help women who found themselves in crisis pregnancies so that they might "find solutions other than the fatal recourse to abortion". The statement noted that there were 200,000 abortions in France every year, compared to 720,000 births. [Zenit, 11 October] Three politicians in Chile have proposed legislation which, it is claimed, would open the door to legalised abortion. The bill would guarantee, among other things, "the freedom to enjoy sexuality as a source of personal development and happiness; the right to be sexual outside of the context of reproduction ... the right to make unforced decisions about sexuality, autonomy and control over one's own body ... and the right to make free, informed and responsible decisions about whether or not to have children". Catholic leaders in Chile are vigorously opposing the measure, which they say is a response to pressure from the United Nations. [LifeSite Daily News, 11 October ] A couple in Canada have launched a lawsuit which challenges the 1997 Canadian supreme court ruling that an unborn child has no rights. Stephen and Cindy Martin are suing Dr Lynne Marriott for negligence after their daughter was delivered stillborn. Under Canadian law as it presently stands, a foetus is only considered to be a child once the umbilical cord has been cut, and the Supreme Court has held that a foetus has no monetary value. [Calgary Herald, 10 October ] A US newspaper has reported that the RU-486 abortion pill will be manufactured for the American market by a Chinese state-owned company at an installation near Shanghai. The report suggested that this was the reason for the Food and Drug Administration's refusal to disclose the name or location of the drug's manufacturer. The name of the manufacturing company is Hua Lian Pharmaceutical Co., while Danco Laboratories will act as the US distributor. The Chinese factory has the capacity to produce at least half a ton of the drug every year, enough to meet the entire global demand. RU-486 was approved for use in China in 1988, and of the 10 million abortions carried out in China every year, half are now done using the drug. [Washington Post online, 12 October ]

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