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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 21 September 2000

21 September 2000

21 September 2000 Research carried out in England has suggested that what a mother eats between the time of her unborn child's conception and his or her implantation in the womb may have a long-term impact on the child's health. Professor Tom Fleming from Southampton University, whose findings have been published in New Scientist magazine, found that the offspring of female rats who had been starved of protein for just a few days after mating were more prone to abnormalities and developed less quickly in the womb. This might also apply to humans. Implantation in the case of human unborn babies usually occurs between five and six days after conception. [BBC News online, 21 September ] Pro-life groups have criticised the annual report on 'The State of World Population' published by the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The report focuses on "gender inequality" and is reported to include lack of access to 'control over reproductive activity' among examples of such inequality. The report also claims that a third of pregnancies worldwide are unwanted or 'mistimed', and that 20 million out of 50 million abortions carried out each year are unsafe. Mark DeYoung, of the World Life League, said: "For the UNFPA, gender equality can be achieved only through a reduction in fertility. Yet, it is ultimately so-called family planning programmes that widen the gap of gender inequality and create the occasion for countless human rights abuses." [Catholic News Service&A.P., from Yahoo! News, 20 September] Staff at a home for the mentally disabled in Japan have been accused of forcing a woman in her early 20s to have an abortion in 1991. The woman, who visited the home daily, was allegedly given drugs to induce labour six months into her pregnancy, with the result that she gave birth to a baby boy who later died. Human rights officials claim that the director of the home told doctors to administer the drugs despite their reluctance to do so. This would have breached the Eugenic Protection Law, renamed the Maternity Protection Law in 1996, which bans abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy. [Mainichi Daily News, 19 September] The US senate has voted in favour of approving permanent normal trade relations with China. The measure passed by 83 votes to 15 on Tuesday (19 September). Earlier, on 13 September, senators had rejected by 53 votes to 43 an amendment urging the president to call on China to end forced abortions and sterilisations. [LifeSite Daily News, 20 September; Washington Post, 14 September] A former Nicaraguan minister of family affairs has spoken about "secretive, manipulative" international pressure on his country to abandon pro-life policies. Max Padilla said: "Anti-life forces are moving and pulling strings in the same secretive, manipulative way as they do in the international arena. I hope we can raise public awareness before we suffer the consequences." National Catholic Register, an American publication, claimed that the United Nations Population Fund withheld 11 million US dollars in aid to Nicaragua because the country refused to accept definitions of gender and reproductive health rights which are taken by various international organisations to entail access to abortion. The report asserted that threats by donor countries to make aid contingent upon changes in the pro-life policy of the government following the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch led earlier this year to the forced resignation of Mr Padilla, after he created a commission, composed mainly of pro-life experts, to draw up Nicaraguan definitions of gender and health rights. When a letter signed by various European diplomatic representatives expressed alarm at this move, despite the fact that no UN conference had agreed upon any such definitions, Mr Padilla was replaced by the president's wife. [Zenit news agency, 19 September]

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