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Defending life
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News, 27 April 2001

27 April 2001

27 April 2001 Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the day when Britain's Abortion Act came into effect. An analysis of official government statistics indicates that between 27 April 1968 and 31 December 1999, there were a total of 5,227,158 abortions performed in England, Scotland and Wales under the terms of the Act. An estimate of the total number of abortions since 1 January 2000 until the present day would take that figure to about 5,450,000 abortions. This total does not take into account the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of unborn children in Britain who have been killed by the morning-after pill, intra-uterine devices and destructive experimentation. Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC, pointed out that every single child killed by abortion was "unique and precious" and added that "this appalling statistic also reveals the scale of suffering inflicted on women who have undergone abortions". [SPUC, 27 April; figures from the Office for National Statistics in England and Wales, and the Information and Statistics Division in Scotland] The United States House of Representatives yesterday voted in favour of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act by 252 to 172. An amendment introduced by pro-abortionists which would have increased penalties for assaults on pregnant women but avoided making the killing or injuring of an unborn child a separate crime was defeated by 229 votes to 169. A spokesman for the US Catholic bishops applauded the vote, as did the National Right to Life Committee. Similar legislation passed last year in the House was not taken up by the Senate, although it has been suggested that this was due in part to a threatened veto by President Clinton. President Bush has said that he supports the legislation. [Various sources from Pro-Life Infonet, 27 April; CNN and Washington Post online , 26 April] The government of French Polynesia is opposing the extension of mainland France's abortion law to its territory. Gaston Flosse, president of the French Pacific territory which includes Tahiti and other islands, said that his government would consider taking the issue to the constitutional court in Paris if the French senate did not reverse the measure. The extension has been included in the legislation which also increases the French legal gestational time limit for abortion [see news digest for 23 April ]. French abortion law became applicable in New Caledonia, another French Pacific territory, at the start of this year. [Agence France Presse, 26 April; via Pro-Life E-News] A court in Chile has prevented sales of the morning-after pill [because it can cause an abortion, thus contravening Chile's pro-life laws]. The eighth bench of the Santiago Appeals Court reversed the judgement of a lower court and blocked sales of the drug earlier this month. [Santiago Times, 3 April; see news digest for 21 March ] An Irish Catholic bishop has said that to be personally opposed to abortion while supporting it politically undermines the whole concept of a democratic society. Bishop Thomas Finnegan of Killala told pilgrims at the shrine of Our Lady of Knock that Ireland needed people who could challenge the idea that a person's religious beliefs [on subjects such as abortion] should be relegated to the private sphere". [The Universe, 29 April] Federal legislation to outlaw human cloning has been introduced in both the US Senate and House of Representatives. The bill, which is being called the Human Cloning Prohibition Act 2001, is reported to go further than legislation introduced earlier this month which would prohibit only reproductive cloning. The White House has indicated that President Bush would be prepared to sign a federal ban on cloning. [BBC News online, 27 April ] The partial-birth abortion bans in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin were overturned by US federal judges yesterday. A US district judge issued a summary judgement blocking Michigan's ban, while the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago blocked the bans which had been passed in Wisconsin and Illinois. The decisions followed last year's 5 to 4 judgement of the US Supreme Court that Nebraska's ban on partial-birth abortions was unconstitutional because it imposed an "undue burden" on women. [AP, via FindLaw, 27 April ]

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