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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 28 December 2001

28 December 2001

28 December 2001 It is reported that the Irish abortion referendum will probably take place on 28 February. Today's Irish Times cites "reliable sources" which indicate that Mr Bertie Ahern, the taoiseach, is determined to go ahead with the referendum before the general election and has already nominated 28 February as his preferred date. A formal decision on the timing of the referendum is expected to be made by the Irish cabinet on the 15th of next month. Fine Gael, the main opposition party, is expected to campaign against the proposed constitutional amendment. [Irish Times, 28 December ] The Adelaide Hospital Society (AHS), a protestant medical charity in the Republic of Ireland, has recommended the authorisation of destructive research on embryos and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. In its submission to the Commission on Assisted Reproduction, the AHS also rejected use of the term "unborn" as having no scientific meaning and described the "development of the human person as a process". The Commission on Assisted Reproduction was set up in the Irish Republic almost two years ago to consider the status of pre-implantation embryos. [Irish Times, 28 December ] SPUC and other pro-life groups worldwide have warned that the proposed Irish constitutional amendment would have the effect of removing legal protection of pre-implantation embryos and of sanctioning destructive experimentation and early abortion. Five couples have applied to select designer babies to serve as tissue donors for terminally ill siblings in the Australian state of Victoria. Three couples from Victoria, one from Tasmania and one from New Zealand have applied to Victoria's Infertility Treatment Authority for permission to conceive babies using in vitro fertilisation and then to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to select only those healthy babies whose tissue provides a perfect match for their older sibling. Margaret Tighe, chairman of Right to Life Australia, condemned the plan as unacceptable "selective breeding" and pointed out that the selected embryos would be unable to give their consent to being used as tissue donors. The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority gave permission for PGD to be used for this purpose earlier this month. [The Canberra Times, 27 December] A spokesperson for the Catholic Church in the Philippines has dismissed claims that one woman in four has had a secret abortion as "impossible". The Population Commission, an agency of the Philippines government, made the claim earlier this month [see news digest for 14 December ], but Manny Arejola, a spokesman for the Church's commission on family and life, accused the agency of inventing the figures to "panic" Filipinos into agreeing to the legalisation of abortion. He said that the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the United Nations and others had been promoting abortion as a "back-up method of contraception" and that the Philippines government had been a "willing collaborator" in this. Mr Arejola continued: "They hide behind the terms reproductive rights or reproductive health. But everyone knows ... when they use these terms, they mean abortion. It's a small group but it speaks very loudly. Most people don't know enough to question it." [CNSNews, 26 December ]

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