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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 April 2001

20 April 2001

20 April 2001 A bill to legalise passive euthanasia in Israel has been expanded by a committee of legislators. The measure to introduce so-called living wills had already received its first reading in the Israeli parliament, but members of the Knesset law committee have now recommended additional provisions such as the validity of body signals to confirm a wish for passive euthanasia and the authority of an attorney to request passive euthanasia on behalf of an [incapacitated] patient. Anat Maor, one of the sponsors of the legislation in the Knesset, insisted that she did not support active euthanasia as has been approved in the Netherlands. [The Jerusalem Post, 19 April ] Pro-life campaigners in the UK have launched a scathing attack on government plans to introduce new legislation on human cloning [see news digests for yesterday and 17 April ]. Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC, said that the statement by Mr Alan Milburn, the health secretary, was "a blatant attempt to obscure the government's promotion of human cloning". He described Mr Milburn's announcement as "a desperate attempt to talk about everything else but the ethics of creating cloned human beings in the laboratory". Mr Tully also expressed his concern that the new legislation would reinforce the prejudice against clones by obliging researchers to kill them after they had been "plundered for spare parts". [SPUC media release, 19 April ] An opinion poll carried out for a pro-abortion group in the Republic of Ireland has indicated that 62 percent of voters believe that abortion should be allowed in certain cases. The poll, carried out by Lansdowne Market Research on behalf of Abortion Reform, also indicates that fewer than one in five favour a referendum on the issue. According to the poll, 37 percent believe that abortion should be legal when the mother threatens suicide and 47 percent believe that it should be made available in cases of rape or incest. Only 17 percent of respondents supported the prohibition of abortion in all cases except when the mother's life was at risk. [Irish Independent, 20 April ; Unison breaking news, 19 April] It has been reported that almost every Catholic and Lutheran bishop in Germany condemned euthanasia in their Easter sermons following the decision by the parliament of the Netherlands to legalise the practice. Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of the German Catholic bishops' conference, said that the Dutch vote had represented a break with European cultural tradition and indicated that "we are already in the midst of a culture of death". Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne said that only a "sick and psychologically degenerate" society could pass such a law. [CNS, 19 April ] The number of babies born out of wedlock in the United States constituted a third of all births for the first time in 1999. The figures were released this week by the US federal government. US abortion statistics released last December for 1997 indicated that women who conceived out of wedlock were more likely to abort their babies. The majority of abortions in that year were obtained by unmarried women under the age of 25. [Washington Times, 18 April ; SPUC news digest, 13 December 2000 ] A boycott of American Express credit cards by pro-lifers in the United States has expanded. American Express has reportedly been providing financial support for Planned Parenthood, the United States' largest abortion provider, for many years and organisations such as the American Life League and Human Life International refuse to accept donations through American Express. Women and Children First has become the latest group to refuse donations via American Express credit cards following a call to boycott the company by Douglas R Scott, president of Life Decisions International. [LifeSite, 19 April ] The US health and human services secretary has expressed his support for the availability of the RU-486 abortion drug. Tommy Thompson, who had been viewed by some as having pro-life credentials when he was appointed by President Bush, insisted that his department would not review the decision to authorise sales of the drug because there was no evidence that it was unsafe for women. His comments appear to contradict his earlier assertions that the health risks of RU-486 would be fully investigated. [LifeSite, 19 April ]

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