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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 June 2001

1 June 2001

1 June 2001 The total number of unborn children killed by abortion in Scotland fell last year. Official figures released yesterday indicated that there were 11,966 abortions recorded in 2000, compared to 12,167 in 1999. However, the number of girls under 16 who had abortions rose by almost 10% to 274 from 251 in 1999. Almost 3,000 abortions were carried out last year on girls under 19. The Scottish executive welcomed the small overall decline in abortions, but Fr Danny McLoughlin, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: "Behind every one of these figures is a personal tragedy." Ian Murray, director of SPUC Scotland, pointed out that the figures proved that initiatives intended to reduce teenage pregnancy rates by "throwing condoms and pills" at young people were not working. [Daily Record and Scottish Daily Mail, 1 June] Belgium is to make the abortifacient morning-after pill available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription. Magda Alvoet, the Belgian health minister, announced that the Norlevo morning-after-pill would become available from pharmacists on 10 June as an "emergency solution" to the growing number of Belgian women under 20 who were having abortions. [Reuters, via ABC News, 31 May ] Researchers in the United States believe that human muscle tissue could be injected into the heart to replace dead cells. A team led by Dr Robb MacLellan at the University of California in Los Angeles injected cells from a heart-attack patient's biceps into the back of his heart last month, in addition to performing a quadruple bypass. The man is now feeling well. Dr MacLellan believes that skeletal muscle cells taken from the arm or leg may function in the same way as heart cells, which do not regenerate of their own accord. This technique could provide an ethical alternative to the use of human embryonic stem cells and so-called therapeutic cloning for the treatment of heart disease. [National Post online, 31 May ] Britain's Medical Research Council has made a grant of two million pounds to facilitate nationwide testing of a computer system which monitors the health of unborn babies during labour. The foetal monitoring project, which analyses an unborn baby's heart beat and compares it to the heart beats of thousands of other babies, has already been tested successfully in Plymouth, south west England. It is hoped that the technology will prevent babies from dying or being brain damaged during labour as a result of human error. [BBC News online, 31 May ] Pope John Paul II has criticised genetic manipulation of human beings and experimentation on human embryos. Marking the 20th anniversary of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome, the Pope warned against those who "arrogate to themselves an arbitrary and limitless power over the human being". He affirmed that "from the mysterious instant of his conception ... [a human being] must be accepted and treated as a person, created in the image and likeness of God himself". [Zenit , 31 May] An alliance of Evangelical protestant groups in Canada has endorsed civil disobedience as a justifiable Christian response to abortion. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada released a discussion paper earlier this week which states that public, non-violent acts contrary to the law, such as the picketing of abortion clinics, may constitute "a part of giving unqualified primary allegiance to God". [LifeSite, 31 May ]

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