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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 19 June 2001

19 June 2001

19 June 2001 An Australian pro-euthanasia campaigner has announced plans to moor a floating euthanasia clinic off the British coast. Dr Philip Nitschke said that he would travel to the Netherlands to buy a Dutch-registered boat, and would also meet the activists behind the Women on the Waves floating abortion clinic. He hopes then to administer lethal doses of drugs to British patients on the boat in an attempt to raise the political profile of euthanasia in the UK. A spokesman for the Dutch health ministry dismissed the plans, saying that they would not be covered by his country's recent law which legalised euthanasia. [Guardian, 19 June ] Pope John Paul II has urged Catholic doctors to remain faithful to their conscience by refusing to participate in unethical procedures. Addressing a meeting of Catholic gynaecologists and obstetricians, the Pope warned that medical ethics were clashing increasingly with Catholic morality. Making particular mention of abortifacient drugs, in vitro fertilisation, the use of embryonic stem cells and human cloning, the Pope called on legislators to respect doctors' right of conscientious objection. [AP, via Northern Light, 18 June ] The chairman of New Zealand's medical association has defended sex selective abortions of babies with sex-specific diseases. Dr John Adams said that chorionic villus sampling at 11 weeks' gestation, which identifies chromosomal anomalies and a baby's sex, could continue because there were many inherited diseases and genetic syndromes which affected one sex or the other. However, the medical association has recently affirmed that sex-selective abortions for any other reason are unethical. The Family Planning Association in New Zealand has revealed that some parents from ethnic minorities have been seeking sex-determination tests with a view to aborting girls. [New Zealand Herald, 19 June ] Staff on the un-licensed floating abortion clinic in Dublin harbour are providing women with the abortifacient morning-after pill. Ms Muldowney, a spokeswoman for the Women on the Waves foundation, said: "At last Irish women will be given this service without any cost or judgement." The foundation also claimed that up to 300 women have so far contacted the boat. Rebecca Gomperts, the Dutch abortionist behind the project, said that the boat would sail to Cork and then return to the Netherlands in order to obtain the necessary abortion licence. [Irish Independent, 19 June ; Observer, 17 June ] The US Catholic bishops have moved to ensure that no Catholic hospital provides surgical abortions or any type of abortifacient drug. New directives pertaining to healthcare which have been issued by the national conference of Catholic bishops explicitly ban the provision of abortion, abortifacients and in vitro fertilisation, as well as contraceptives and sterilisation. It has been reported that non-Catholic hospitals which are affiliated to the Church have been able to get around the ban on abortion in the past, but Bishop Joseph A Galante of Texas said that the new rules left "no wiggle room". [LifeSite, 18 June ] Feminist groups are reportedly pressing for pro-abortion language to be included in the final document of the forthcoming United Nations conference on AIDS. The conference will be held from 25 to 27 June and will attempt to set goals for each nation's fight against the virus. However, certain Islamic countries have objected to language which encourages the provision of "reproductive health services" because this is widely understood to entail access to abortion. The US administration wants the phrase changed to "reproductive care". [Reuters, via Excite news , and LifeSite , 18 June]

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