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News, 12 June 2001

12 June 2001

12 June 2001 A man who admitted to killing his mentally ill daughter in an "act of love" has walked free from a court in England. Mr James Lawson suffocated his 22-year-old daughter after she had made a number of failed suicide attempts. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Maidstone crown court, and was given a two year suspended sentence. The judge told him: "The fact that you acted out of love takes this case out of the norm..." [The Guardian, 9 June ; see news digest for 15 May ] More than 16,000 unborn children were killed by abortion in New Zealand last year, four percent more than in 1999. Official statistics have also indicated that 33.5 percent of abortions involved women who had had at least one previous abortion, compared to 28 percent five years ago. The majority of women who obtained abortions were in their 20s. [NewsRoom, 11 June ] Dr Rebecca Gomperts' floating abortion facility left the Netherlands yesterday bound for Ireland. The Aurora, a former trawler, is expected to arrive in Dublin on Thursday. Members of the Cry for Life group failed to prevent its departure. The Women on the Waves foundation is thought to be planning future trips to Brazil and the Philippines, where pregnant women will be offered first trimester abortions in international waters. [The Irish Independent, 12 June ; BBC News online, 11 June ] The medical director of an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinic in Melbourne, Australia, has revealed that 95 percent of couples who undergo IVF in the state of Victoria prefer their embryos to be killed after five years in storage rather than give them to other childless couples. Professor Gab Kovacs urged parents to donate their spare embryos rather than "waste" them once the state's legislative storage time-limit of five years had expired. Australian national statistics have indicated that there are currently 65,518 embryos in frozen storage across the country, a threefold increase on 1994. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June ] Canadian Catholics have expressed their concerns about the draft text of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. In submissions to the House of Commons standing committee on health, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family stressed that "no human being, including the embryo, should ever be used as a means to an end; no human being should ever be considered as surplus or spare". The legislation deals with the regulation of embryonic research, among other things. [LifeSite, 11 June ] It has been reported that the US administration of President Bush is "deeply divided" over whether to authorise federal funding of destructive embryonic stem cell research. Mr Tommy Thompson, the health and human services secretary, said that he was confident that a compromise would be reached within the next few weeks and added that the President was "looking to find a way that will be unifying rather than divisive". [Reuters, via Northern Light, 12 June ] A Canadian professor of philosophy has urged conscientious pharmacists to refuse to dispense the abortifacient morning-after pill. Professor Don DeMarco of St Jerome's university, Ontario, told a pro-life conference in Nova Scotia that pharmacists across North America had been reprimanded or even sacked on account of their religious and moral beliefs. He observed: "Our society is very confused. It wants conscientious people, but not people with conscience." [The Daily News, Halifax, 10 June; via Pro-Life E-News]

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