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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 February 2001

12 February 2001

12 February 2001 An influential British think-tank has recommended that pregnant women should receive child benefit payments for their unborn children. The Institute for Public Policy Research has suggested that an allowance of 15 pounds per week for expectant mothers from the 12th week of pregnancy would allay the problem of child poverty and improve the health of pregnant women and their babies. At present, women in the UK receive 15 pounds in benefit each week on the birth of their first child, and an additional 10 pounds per week on the birth of each subsequent child. [Ananova, 9 February ] The Catholic bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, has urged all his priests and 32 other bishops to support a legal challenge to Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton. These were the two US Supreme Court rulings in 1973 which declared that the US constitution guaranteed a right to abortion at all stages of pregnancy. The action, which is being taken by three women in New Jersey against the state governor and others, is now on appeal. [Catholic News Service, 9 February ] Researchers have discovered that a protein found in human placentas may naturally protect most unborn children from the HIV virus which causes AIDS. Dr Bruce Patterson of the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, in collaboration with other scientists in the United States and at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, had been trying to ascertain why 66% of babies born to mothers who are HIV-positive escape infection. Dr Patterson believes that a small protein known as leukaemia inhibitory factor prevents HIV from gaining access to DNA within cells, thus rendering the virus unable to duplicate itself. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10 February ] Research which suggests that women fitted with abortifacient intra-uterine devices (IUDs) may not be at risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) as much as had been thought has led a US foreign aid official to urge greater availability of IUDs. Dr James Shelton, of the US Agency for International Development, said that "more women should be offered the IUD as a realistic contraceptive [sic] choice". It is known that women are more at risk of developing PID if they contract a sexually transmitted infection while fitted with an IUD, but data published in the Lancet medical journal has indicated that the risk is less than had been presumed. [BBC News online, 11 February ] The coil, or IUD, does not work by preventing fertilisation, as the BBC source for this item suggests. It is, therefore, not a form of contraception. Dr Germaine Greer described the action of an IUD thus: "A device inserted into the uterus prevents intrauterine pregnancy, and intrauterine pregnancy only, by transforming the welcoming environment for the blastocyst [newly conceived human] into a toxic sink." [Germaine Greer, Sex and Destiny, 1984] A state appeals court in Florida has lifted an injunction on a law which requires doctors, in most cases, to notify the parents of girls under 18 at least 48 hours before their daughters have an abortion. A circuit court judge had said that the 1999 law was unconstitutional because it violated girls' right to privacy, but the three judges of the 1st District Court of Appeal unanimously disagreed and declared that the law served "a compelling state interest". [Naples Daily News, 9 February ] It has been revealed that none of the major financial supporters of the pro-abortion group calling itself Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) is Catholic. Francis J Butler, president of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, reported in Philanthropy magazine that no major donor of CFFC was involved in the area of Catholic philanthropy. Instead, CFFC relies predominantly on secular foundations. [Catholic News Service, 9 February ]

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