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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 13 September 2000

13 September 2000

13 September 2000 New figures released by the office for national statistics in England and Wales have indicated that the number of girls becoming pregnant before their sixteenth birthday [the legal age of consent in the UK] rose significantly in the second quarter of 1999 to 8·6 per 1,000. The figure had peaked at 9·1 per 1,000 in early 1998 but had then started to fall. Just over half of all pregnancies in this age group end in abortion. [Daily Mail, 13 September] The case of Siamese twins Jodie and Mary will resume today in the English Court of Appeal. The BBC reports that the hearing could last several more days, after which judgement may still be reserved to a later date. [BBC News Online, 12 September] A scientific study has concluded that a technique sometimes used as part of in vitro fertilisation treatment increases the risks of congenital anomalies. The study, carried out by the US Center of Disease Control and Prevention, found that the technique of 'assisted hatching', whereby the membrane surrounding embryos produced in a test-tube is pierced or thinned so as to facilitate their implantation in the womb, is more likely to lead to monozygotic twinning where a single embryo splits into two at an early stage. This can lead to congenital anomalies more often than is the case with the usual form of twinning. Only two centres in the UK are licensed to offer assisted hatching. It is usually offered to women after attempts at embryo transfer [from the test-tube into the wall of the womb] have repeatedly failed. [BBC News Online, 12 September] The US House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act within the next two weeks. The legislation stipulates that any human baby must be considered "born alive" [and therefore entitled to full legal recognition and protection] if he or she "breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion". Richard Lessner, vice-president of American Renewal, attacked a statement issued by the pro-abortion lobby which, he said, strongly suggested "that it should be left to the abortionist to decide whether the life of a fully born baby is worth saving". [EWTN News, 12 September] The Catholic bishops of Argentina have included the "crime of abortion" among the sins for which they have asked forgiveness on behalf of Catholics in the country. The bishops' statement referred to a number of failings, particularly during the military dictatorship of 1976 to 1983, and confessed that "many Christians, in the name of human rights, may have invited the crime of abortion, euthanasia and cruelty..." [EWTN News, 12 September] It is now expected that the US Food and Drug Administration will release its decision regarding the RU-486 abortion pill, otherwise known as mifepristone, before the end of this month. It may either approve the drug for sale, reject it, or request further information. A spokesperson for Danco Laboratories LLC, the company which hopes to market RU-486 in the US, said that the drug could be on sale weeks after authorisation was given. The company has developed a marketing strategy for the drug and decided upon Early Option as a tentative brand-name. Manufacture of the drug has been contracted out to a Chinese company until approval for it to be produced in the US is given. [Omaha World Herald, 8 September; LifeSite Daily News, 5 September]

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