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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 October 2000

16 October 2000

16 October 2000 The director of the largest chain of abortion clinics in Britain has called for abortion to be accepted as an ordinary method of controlling fertility rather than as a problem or a failure. Ann Furedi, director of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which performs about 50,000 abortions in Britain each year, told a conference on abortion law that policymakers should "stop using the abortion rate as the indicator of a problem" but "accept it as an essential method of family planning". She observed: "Sex is an accepted part of an adult relationship for which we do not expect to suffer unwanted consequences." Her comments have been seen as a contribution to the campaign to abolish the current legal criteria according to which a woman can only procure an abortion if she would otherwise suffer 'injury to physical or mental health'. [Daily Mail, 16 October] An Irish national newspaper has reported that the All-Party Committee on the Constitution has failed to reach a consensus on the abortion issue and that the three main political parties will all propose different approaches in the report which is expected to be finalised next Wednesday. Fianna Fáil is said to favour a referendum question which would outlaw abortion in cases of threatened suicide but provide doctors with legal protection when lives of unborn children are lost in the course of essential medical treatment to protect the life of the mother. Fine Gael members support maintaining the current law unchanged but spending 50 million pounds on a new state agency to reduce crisis pregnancies. The Labour party supports the provision of abortion when there is a substantial threat to the life of the mother, including risk of suicide. [The Irish Times, 14 October ] Heads of government of European Union countries, meeting in Biarritz, France, voted last Saturday to accept the new Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, they did not agree on the extent, if at all, to which the charter should be binding. Article three of the charter prohibits "eugenic practices, in particular, those whose objective is the selection of persons". It also prohibits the reproductive cloning of humans [thus making a distinction between reproductive and so-called therapeutic cloning]. [Zenit news agency, 15 October] A document published by the Vatican in preparation for the Jubilee of Families last weekend stated that legislators should he held partly responsible for the "abominable crime" of abortion. The document, drawn up by the Pontifical Council for the Family, also put responsibility for abortions on the women who procured them, other family members, groups which campaigned for abortion, and fathers who either directly pressurised women to have abortions or who left them "alone to face the problems of pregnancy". The document also singled out international organisations [such as the United Nations] when it stated: "A general and no less serious responsibility lies with international institutions, foundations and associations which systematically campaign for the legalisation and spread of abortion in the world." [LifeSite Daily News, 12 October ] Reports that the drug to be taken in conjunction with RU-486 to induce abortions had never been authorised for use by pregnant women in the United States have been treated cautiously by some commentators. Drug makers Searle had warned that misoprostol, which expels the body of an unborn child killed by RU-486, had been developed as an anti-ulcer drug and had not been approved for obstetric use. Pro-life congressman Tom Coburn questioned the sincerity of Searle's warning, saying: "The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] wrote the letter to give Searle legal protection in future lawsuits from women who will be harmed by the two-drug combination." [Covenant News, 13/16 October ; LifeSite Daily News, 13 October ]

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