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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 7 September 2000

7 September 2000

7 September 2000 The second team of medical experts whose advice was sought in the case of the Siamese twins Jodie and Mary has given its "broad support" for an operation to separate them, against the wishes of the parents. David Harris QC, acting for the official solicitor, insisted that an operation which would kill Mary to save Jodie would "undoubtedly be fundamentally inconsistent with the underpinning philosophy and ethics of the legal structure as it stands". Lord Justice Ward, one of the three judges hearing the appeal, admitted to having sleepless nights as he pondered the dilemma and said: "It is difficult to see why it is not murder at the moment." However, he suggested that it was not God's will that Mary should live and said that she should not be treated "as a single independent life when everyone knows that if she had been born a single person she would have been left to die". The case has now been adjourned until next Wednesday. [BBC News online, 6 September; Guardian Unlimited&Daily Express, 7 September] In answer to a question about abortion rates, Northern Ireland's minister for health, social services and public safety has claimed that there were 1,602 "spontaneous, medical and other/unspecified" abortions carried out in hospitals there during the financial year 1998-99. Ms de Brun, of the pro-abortion Sinn Fein party, was responding to a question put by Mrs Joan Carson, a pro-abortion Ulster Unionist, in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Ms de Brun did not offer a breakdown of the statistics, but figures obtained by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children indicate that of 1,593 abortions recorded in 1998-9 (nine fewer than the figure cited by Ms de Brun), only 78 were "medical" and 1,507 (or 94.6 percent) were spontaneous. The Abortion Act 1967 does not apply to Northern Ireland. [Northern Ireland Assembly Hansard, 31 August; SPUC Northern Ireland] The number of abortions recorded in South Carolina dropped by about 38 percent between 1988 and 1998. In 1988, when figures for the state were first issued, there were 15,569 abortions, but by 1998 this figure had fallen to 9,671. A variety of factors have been suggested to explain the decline, including the work of crisis pregnancy centres, abstinence-based sex education programmes and the parental notification law passed recently. Lib Reynolds, of South Carolina Citizens for Life, said: "I believe people are becoming more educated about the nature of the child in the womb. They are realising this isn't just a blob of tissue. It's a little boy or a little girl." [AP, 6 September; from Pro-Life Infonet] A second attempt to ban partial-birth abortions in the American state of Ohio is being challenged in a federal court. The new law, which was signed by Governor Bob Taft in May, includes a clause allowing the procedure to preserve a mother's life but no exception when her physical or emotional health is considered under threat. Lawyers for Dr Martin Haskell, the doctor who is trying to block the law, are claiming that the ban places an unconstitutional burden on a woman's right to obtain an abortion. Governor Taft and Betty Montgomery, Ohio' s attorney general, contend that the ban is very specific and so avoids the failings cited by Supreme Court when it struck down Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban. [Pro-Life Infonet, 5 September; Cleveland Live, 6 September] The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority has decided to allow the American Life League to place advertisements on the subway system. The Authority had originally refused to allow the advertisements, despite accepting advertisements by abortionists, but has now claimed that the advertisements were rejected simply because they failed to list a sponsor. [EWTN News, 6 September]

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