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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 27 December 2001

27 December 2001

27 December 2001 The Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales have declared next Sunday, the feast of the Holy Family, a day of witness to the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life. Parish priests are being urged to incorporate the theme of respect for human life in their homily and prayers during Mass, and pro-life prayer cards have been sent to all 2,800 parishes. Congregations have been urged to pray for expectant mothers, those in chronic pain or nearing death, scientists involved in medical research, and other causes. A statement by the bishops' conference reads: "We recall our own failures and the failures of our society to protect human life, to uphold human dignity, and to act with mercy and compassion to all. We turn to God in gratitude for his treasured gift of life, and pray especially for those in situations of stress, fear and difficulty." [Catholic Times, 23 December] The government of the Australian state of Tasmania has indicated that it could be several weeks until the first unborn babies are aborted under the terms of the liberalised abortion law passed by legislators last week. The bill has to be presented to the state's governor for royal assent, after which doctors and nurses will have to be fully apprised of the new protocols under the law. Judy Jackson, the Tasmanian health minister, said that this process would take some time. [Radio Australia News, 21 December ] Asia could emerge as the most important player in embryonic stem cell research. Dr Ariff Bongso, the top researcher for a Singaporean biotechnology company, has said that he hopes to establish a stem cell production facility to supply scientists all over the world and to enable Asian scientists to compete with those in Europe and the United States. The issue of destructive research on embryos is not as controversial in many Asian countries as it is in Europe and North America and the Straits Times of Singapore recently described reaction in the west to reports that an American company had cloned the first human embryo as "hysterical and irrational". [AP, via Cosmiverse, 24 December ] The terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September may have led to a surge in the number of new human lives being conceived. One women's health institute in South Carolina reported a 10% increase in registrations of newly pregnant patients last month. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has asked its members to watch out for any upward or downward trend in birth rates which might relate to 11 September. [The Sun News, South Carolina, 26 December ] A former prison inmate in California has filed a lawsuit claiming that she was denied her constitutional right to abortion while behind bars. Cynthia Torres is suing Ventura county, the county sheriff and the private company which provided the county's inmates with medical care because she claims that she was unable to pay the county's inmate transportation fee to get to an abortion facility. She is alleging that, when she left prison, she was six months pregnant and it was therefore too late to procure a safe abortion. Her child was born in May. [Los Angeles Times, 22 December ]

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