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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 9 April 2001

9 April 2001

9 April 2001 The Roman Catholic bishops of Scotland have condemned the abortifacient morning-after pill, which they describe as the equivalent of a chemically-induced abortion. The pastoral letter, signed by all eight Scottish bishops, follows the decision by the British government to make the morning-after pill available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription to women over the age of 16 throughout the UK. The bishops point out that the drug can kill "a tiny human being, or embryo, which has come into existence at the time of conception" and continue: "In ethical terms, the Church considers the prescription, supply and consumption of potentially abortifacient drugs to be very wrong. We call on doctors, pharmacists, parents and teenagers to reflect on what is being proposed and to exercise their conscientious right of objection." [text of the Scottish bishops' pastoral letter on the morning-after pill; BBC News online and Guardian Unlimited, 7 April ] Pro-lifers in Britain have reacted with concern to reports that Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour party is planning to legalise euthanasia by neglect across the country if it wins the next general election [now expected on 7 June]. It was reported over the weekend that the Labour party was considering whether to include a commitment in its election manifesto to extend the Adults With Incapacity (Scotland) Act to other parts of the UK. Alison Davis, head of SPUC's handicap division, said: "Under the Scottish law, doctors could be expected to kill an incapacitated patient by starvation and dehydration. This could be done both on those who have a terminal illness and on those who are not dying but are incapacitated, at the behest of a proxy who may not be aware of the medical situation. The proxy could even stand to benefit from the patient's death." [Catholic Herald, 6 April; SPUC media release, 9 April ] The Dutch senate will debate the legalisation of euthanasia this week. The country's upper house of parliament is expected to approve the legislation, which was passed by the lower house last year. Religious and pro-life groups in the Netherlands have campaigned against the move, although Jacob Kohnstamm, president of the Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society, predicted that euthanasia would be legal in most countries within 25 years. [Pro-Life Infonet, 4 April; Observer, 8 April ] Provisional results from this year's national census in India have indicated that there are now only 927 girls for every 1,000 boys in the birth to six years age-group. This represents a decline from 945 girls for every 1,000 boys in 1991. A traditional bias for male children and an emerging preference for smaller families, together with the availability of pre-natal sex identification, is thought to have led to a high incidence of sex-selection abortion in India. This is despite a law passed in 1996 which banned the use of ultrasound technology for the purpose of sex determination. [Reuters, via Yahoo! News, 5 April ] It was reported in this digest last week [4 April] that sex-selective abortions in China have contributed to a similarly alarming imbalance between the numbers of boys and girls. A prominent euthanasia campaigner in Australia has announced plans to provide euthanasia on a floating clinic moored in international waters. Dr Philip Nitschke claimed that he could circumvent Australian law by offering euthanasia on a vessel registered in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is likely to be legalised soon. Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch abortionist, claims to be in the process of raising funds for a floating abortion clinic which she hopes will also be moored in international waters to circumvent national laws. [Observer, 8 April ] The United States senate has confirmed the appointment of a known pro-abortionist as ambassador to Canada. Paul Cellucci, currently the governor of Massachusetts, is said to have a close political relationship with Planned Parenthood, the abortion providers. Senator Jesse Helms, chairman of the senate's foreign relations committee, responded to the concerns of pro-lifers by securing a written pledge from Governor Cellucci that he would adhere to President Bush's policies on the sanctity of life. [LifeSite, 6 April ]

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