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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 15 February 2001

15 February 2001

15 February 2001 A pilot scheme launched yesterday in south Wales could mean that girls as young as nine might obtain the abortifacient morning-after pill without their parents' knowledge. The Iechyd Morgannwg Health Authority is making the morning-after pill available free of charge and with no lower age limit from 10 pharmacies in the Bridgend area of south Wales. It is reported that one of the participating pharmacies is situated only yards from a primary school. Dr Rosemary Fox, a medical adviser to the project, said: "It is quite possible that a child as young as 12 may unfortunately need to use it, but eight or nine would be at the very extreme end ... if a young person needed emergency contraception [sic] and they were nine, then better to have it than not have it." Women over the age of 16 throughout the UK can now buy the morning-after pill from pharmacists without a prescription, but the Bridgend scheme is unconnected because technically the drugs are dispensed under a group prescription, an instrument authorised by the British government last year. [Independent, 14 February ; Daily Mail, 15 February; SPUC] The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has said that, under the so-called Mexico City policy re-introduced by President Bush, American aid will still be available for international groups which provide post-abortion care. Pro-abortion bodies such as the Alan Guttmacher Institute have said that, despite the clarification, family planning providers will still feel inhibited from offering post-abortion care for fear that they could be accused of aiding abortions and thus lose US funding. The Mexico City policy prevents US aid from being given to any international organisation which either provides or promotes abortion. It has been illegal for US aid to be spent on the actual procurement of [surgical] abortions since 1973, although abortion providers could still avail themselves of US funds by operating separate accounts. [Reuters, 14 February; via Yahoo! News ] Ministers have confirmed the British government's commitment to the provision of so-called reproductive healthcare in third world countries. In response to a question about US President Bush's decision to block funding of pro-abortion agencies, Mr Chris Mullin, parliamentary under-secretary of state for international development, said that it would "make no difference to the commitment of this Government to help poor people access good quality family planning and reproductive health services". In a written response to another question, Clare Short, the pro-abortion international development secretary, confirmed that last year the UK government spent 85 million pounds on "major bilateral sexual and reproductive health programmes" in a number of third world countries. [House of Commons Hansard, 12 and 13 February] According to the definition of the World Health Organisation [Cairo conference, 1994], "reproductive health" entails access to "methods of fertility regulation". "Fertility regulation" in turn is defined as: "Delaying childbearing, using contraception, seeking treatment for infertility, interrupting unwanted pregnancies and breastfeeding." The term "interrupting pregnancies" is a euphemism for abortion on demand. Pope John Paul II yesterday described legalised abortion in Europe as "a bleeding wound in my heart". Addressing the new Austrian ambassador to the Vatican, the Pope linked euthanasia to abortion and warned that Europe found itself at a crossroads on the issue of life. He said: "It can build a flowering garden or a quagmire of death." The Pope also stressed that "the promotion of the culture of life should be the highest priority in our societies". [LifeSite and Zenit news agency , 14 February] The vice-president of the Pontifical Council for Life has affirmed the Catholic Church's appreciation for scientific research while insisting that such research must respect human life. In an interview broadcast on Vatican Radio, Bishop Elio Sgreccia said that "experimental science, like all human activity, must be directed to the good of man and the respect of every individual, both in the ends it pursues and in the means it uses". The bishop condemned destructive research on human embryos but encouraged research into the therapeutic potential of stem cells taken from adults or umbilical cords. He also confirmed the Church's acceptance of research on tissue taken from "involuntarily [spontaneously] aborted foetuses". [Vatican Information Service, 14 February ] A federal appeals court in Rhode Island has confirmed the ruling of a lower court that the American state's ban on partial birth abortions is unconstitutional. The law, which was enacted in 1997, had been opposed by Lincoln Almond, the pro-abortion governor. [AP, 13 February; via Pro-Life Infonet] A Catholic priest in the United States has been charged with violating a court order by praying in front of an abortion clinic. The order had imposed a buffer zone of 15 feet around abortion facilities in Buffalo, New York, although this was extended to 60 feet on certain occasions. Fr Norman Weslin, in his 70s and founder of the New York Lambs of Christ pro-life group, has been accused of kneeling and praying 17 feet from a clinic. [EWTN News, 13 February ]

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