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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 June 2001

4 June 2001

4 June 2001 The number of abortions in England and Wales last year was the third highest on record. Provisional figures released by the Office for National Statistics indicate that 185,000 unborn children were killed by abortion during 2000. If this figure is confirmed when the definitive statistics are released later in the year, it would constitute an increase of 1,750 from 1999. It would also be the third highest yearly total in history, behind 1998 and 1990. The rise in the number of abortions came despite increasing use of the abortifacient morning-after pill, nearly a million courses of which were issued last year. [The Tablet, 2 June; SPUC, London] A meeting of the Irish Medical Council erupted with dissent last week after the members voted narrowly in favour of abortion. Seven participants walked out in protest and there was said to be uproar and shouting in the council offices after a vote went in favour of abortion in cases when the unborn child was not considered viable or when there was a substantial risk to the life of the mother. A proposal by the chairman to consult the council's membership before the guidelines were changed was rejected, also by a slim majority. [The Sunday Business Post, 3 June ] A senior official of Britain's biggest private abortion provider, which also receives funds from the tax-payer, has strongly criticised pro-life candidates in this week's general parliamentary election. Ann Furedi, director of communications for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, described the Pro-Life Alliance party as "vile scum" and its candidates as "dishonest, manipulative, irrational, ignorant fanatics who patronise women". Ms Furedi later stood by her remarks, which she said were quite "moderate". Madeline Jeremy, a Pro-Life Alliance candidate, observed: "We've obviously rattled them." [BBC News online, 30 May ] Dr Philip Nitschke, the Australian campaigner for euthanasia, has announced plans to transport terminally ill Australians to the Netherlands where they can be killed legally. He said that two people had so far expressed an interest in availing themselves of legal euthanasia in the Netherlands, where the terminally ill can choose between drinking or injecting a lethal dose of the Nembutal drug. [ninemsn, 31 May ] Science ministers from the world's most industrialised nations discussed human cloning at a meeting in Canada over the weekend. Ministers from the G8 group of nations met behind closed doors in Montmagny, Quebec, while anti-cloning demonstrators marched outside. It was reported that Canada hoped to persuade the other participants (Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the USA and Russia) to back a worldwide cloning ban. [Reuters, 1 June; CBC News, 3 June ] Pharmacists in the Canadian province of Alberta have voted in favour of making the abortifacient morning-after pill available without a doctor's prescription. 68 percent of pharmacists voted for the reclassification, although nearly 200 pharmacists are said to be pushing for the right to refuse to dispense the drug. [Broadcast News, 2 June; via Pro-Life E-News] The director of the Human Genome Project has said that human cloning is too unsafe to be attempted. Dr Francis Collins, whose coalition of researchers announced last year that it had completed the first draft map of the human genome, told a meeting in Seattle: "Regardless of how you feel about the morality of it, the safety issues are huge. Animals that have been cloned are not normal-and that's not to mention the stillborns." [Seattle Times, 1 June; via Pro-Life Infonet]

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