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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 January 2001

4 January 2001

4 January 2001 The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have said that Catholics can support so-called Red Nose Day, despite the fact that Comic Relief, the organisers of the fundraising initiative, have given money to organisations which promote abortion. The bishops received assurances from Comic Relief that it had never [directly] funded either abortion services or promotion of abortion. Despite this denial, Comic Relief also said that donations could be earmarked for specific areas of activity, such as the relief of poverty. However, John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said that his organisation had repeatedly expressed its concerns regarding monies raised for Comic Relief and some of its intended beneficiaries, which had undoubtedly been involved in promoting abortion. [Catholic Herald, 29 December 2000] While denying direct involvement in abortion, Comic Relief has funded organisations such as Marie Stopes International, which engages in both the promotion and the provision of abortion. Researchers in France have suggested that unborn children acquire tastes for certain foods while still in the womb. A team at the European Centre for Taste Science in Dijon, France, tested 24 newborn babies for their reaction to anise odour. The 12 babies whose mothers had eaten anise during pregnancy were attracted to the odour, whereas the other 12 either ignored the smell or turned away from it. [BBC News online, 4 January 2001 ] The Catholic bishops of South Korea have handed a petition to the chairman of the country's national assembly calling for the abolition of laws which permit abortion. The petition, which was signed by 1.2 million Catholics and non-Catholics, stated: "Abortion is murder against God's law and natural law, which are the sources of all laws." [Catholic News Service, 3 January 2001] New national standards in the United States for pain relief in hospitals and other healthcare establishments come into effect this week. All patients will be asked to grade their level of pain on a scale of zero to 10, and will have a right to proper pain assessment and treatment. It has been estimated that 40 percent of cancer patients in the US are given inadequate pain relief. June Dahl, a pain specialist who helped formulate the new standards, said that a common perception was that surgery or cancer necessarily entailed pain, but pain could now be effectively relieved. The new standards have been seen as helpful in reducing desire for assisted suicide. [AP, 25 December 2000 ; ABC News, 2 January 2001; via Yahoo! News, 3 January 2001 ] A pro-life group in Omaha, USA, has challenged three local rabbis over their support for research on tissue from aborted unborn children. Dr Howard Gendelman, who has identified himself as an Orthodox Jew, had insisted that his foetal tissue research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center complied with Jewish law. The three rabbis supported this line on the basis that, even though abortion was a "grave offence" in most cases, foetal research itself would not be unethical unless it encouraged abortion. Cesar Aharon, a Jewish convert to Christianity, claimed at a news conference organised by the Metro Right to Life group that Dr Gendelman could only comply with Jewish law if he used tissue from non-Jewish unborn children only. [Omaha World-Herald, 3 January 2001 ] A law in the American state of Arizona which prohibited the use of tissue from aborted unborn babies in medical research has been ruled unconstitutional. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the state law, which dated back to 1984, was vague because, while banning research, it included an exception for "routine pathological examination" which meant that doctors were uncertain of which types of examination were legal. Similar laws have also been overturned in other American states, and the US Congress lifted a ban on federally funded research using tissue from aborted babies in 1993. [AP, 30 December 2000; from Pro-Life Infonet]

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