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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 27 September 2000

27 September 2000

27 September 2000 Researchers at two hospitals in London are developing a new test for genetic anomalies in unborn children which they say could provide a safer alternative to amniocentesis. The project at Hammersmith and Queen Charlotte's hospitals is costing 98,000 pounds. Amniocentesis involves the insertion of a needle inside the mother's womb and carries a one to two percent risk of causing a miscarriage. The new technique would involve taking a blood sample from the mother and analysing foetal cells in a mother's blood during pregnancy. [Metro, 27 September] The US House of Representatives passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act yesterday by 380 votes to 15. The measure, which would ensure full legal recognition of babies who are born or extracted alive from their mothers, even in cases of botched abortions, was intended by Representative Charles Canady, its sponsor, as a response to recent Supreme Court rulings. He said: "As members of this House, we should do everything we can to protect the most innocent and helpless members of the human family." The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure in the few remaining days of the current session, which means that the bill will probably die. [Washington Post online, 26 September] China is reportedly strengthening its commitment to the one-child family policy [which entails forced abortions and widespread use of abortifacient devices, as well as severe financial penalties and sterilisations]. An editorial in The People's Daily, the Communist party's newspaper, affirmed: "We cannot just be content with the current success, we must make population control a permanent policy." The Chinese government claims that the policy has prevented 250 million births since 1980. It has been estimated that the policy has led to there being 60 million more men in China than women. [BBC News online, 25 September] A national opinion poll commissioned by the Pro-Life Campaign in Ireland has indicated that more than three quarters of the population favour a referendum on the issue of abortion. The poll, carried out by Irish Marketing Surveys, suggested that almost half supported a constitutional amendment to prohibit all abortions except to save the life of the mother, and three in five believed that the government should launch an initiative offering alternatives to abortion for women with unplanned pregnancies. Professor William Binchy, a pro-life legal advisor, observed: "There is more support for protection of the life of the unborn in the broad sense now, in my judgement, than there ever has been. We are constantly encouraged by the enthusiasm of young people on this issue." He added that, contrary to what might be expected, women are more opposed to abortion than men. [Irish Independent, 27 September] It has been reported that, during his visit to Nigeria at the end of last month, President Clinton promised 35 million dollars in US aid for so-called reproductive health. This constitutes more than half of the total aid package announced for Nigeria. Only a few days later the David and Lucille Packard Foundation announced its intention to give 35 million dollars over three years to non-governmental organisations which provide family planning and so-called reproductive health services in Nigeria. [LifeSite Daily News, 26 September] The World Health Organisation, a United Nations body, includes access to abortion in its official definition of reproductive health. Al Gore, US vice-president and Democratic candidate for the presidential election in November, has confirmed his support for making the RU-486 abortion pill available in the States. Mr Gore told 150 students on a television programme, as well as an expected one million viewers: "Other countries have had this. I think that it ought to be available, provided, of course, that it is safe. I think that what's wrong is to hold it off the market for some kind of political reason. I'm totally against that." [Washington Times, 27 September]

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