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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 January 2001

25 January 2001

25 January 2001 CNN, the American news service, has reported that attitudes towards abortion in Russia are changing. Ten years ago, there were 2.2 abortions for every live birth. The abortion rate in Russia today remains the second highest in Europe, behind Romania, but moral concerns over abortion are contributing to a reduction in the rate. The Russian Orthodox Church has rejected abortion as morally wrong, and federal funding of abortion programmes was withdrawn at the end of 1997. [CNN, 20 January; from Pro-Life Infonet] A European Union commissioner has criticised US President George W Bush's decision to block federal funding of groups involved in abortion. Anna Diamantopoulou, the commissioner for employment and social affairs, described it as a "step backwards" which had undone "what we have earned during the last years". 14 members of the British House of Commons have signed an early day motion also criticising President Bush's order. The official parliamentary website registered their motion thus: "That this House condemns the decision by the United States Administration to withdraw funds from international family planing [sic] groups..." [LifeSite, 24 January ; motion 248, UK parliamentary website, 24 January ] The abortifacient morning-after pill became available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription in South Africa yesterday. The drug, marketed as Norlevo, contains 0.75 mg of levonorgestrel, the same as Levonelle-2 which was recently reclassified in the UK. [News 24, 24 January ; further data from SPUC] A pro-lifer has been confirmed by the US Senate as the new secretary of health and human services. Tommy Thompson, governor of Wisconsin, is on record as saying that abortion should only be permitted when it is necessary to save the mother's life. His responsibilities will include overseeing the US Food and Drug Administration, the body which authorised sales of the RU-486 abortion drug four months ago. He has already said that he will review the safety of the drug. [The Times, 25 January] Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa, Canada, has said that Catholic voters should "raise a stink" about government abortion funding. Archbishop Gervais also said that the insistence of Allan Rock, the federal health minister, that all provinces should fund private abortions "makes my blood boil". The archbishop berated the fact that none of Canada's major political parties clearly espoused anti-abortion policies, despite the fact that nearly half of the Canadian population identified themselves as Catholics. He said: "Catholic politicians should be making their private opinions public. Religion in not a private affair. It is a public issue." [Ottawa Citizen, 19 January; from Pro-Life E-News, 24 January] The Catholic archbishop of Denver, Colorado, has stressed that the defence of human life cannot be practised only on the level of personal piety. Archbishop Charles Chaput told a pro-life rally: "People of religious faith must live their pro-life witness courageously, as a matter of public record and civic responsibility--or we'll lose it even as a matter of private principle." [EWTN News, 24 January ]

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