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News, 8 June 2001

8 June 2001

8 June 2001 British pro-lifers have reacted cautiously to the results of the UK general parliamentary election. Mr John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said: "In some key marginal constituencies where SPUC mounted 'value your vote' campaigns, the pro-life candidate from either the Labour party, the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats won their seat. Sadly there were a few losses too. The overall makeup of the new parliament carries tremendous dangers for vulnerable human life, especially with respect to abortion and euthanasia." [SPUC, 8 June] There were more abortions than births in Greenland last year. Figures due to be published in the Summer are reported to indicate that there were 944 abortions compared to 887 births in the Danish territory. In 1999, there were 842 abortions and 946 births. [M2 Communications Ltd., via Northern Light, 8 June ] Pro-life members of the Irish Medical Council who walked out of a council meeting last week [see news digest for 4 June ] are considering a legal challenge to the vote in favour of amending the council's guidelines on abortion. The guidelines were amended so as to condone abortion when there is "a real and substantive risk to the life of the mother" or when "the foetus is nonviable". Both amendments were passed by 12 votes to seven. Professor John Bonnar, chairman of the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, warned that the second amendment could effectively allow any abortion prior to 24 weeks' gestation, and observed: "I find that such a statement would be at variance with the position of the overwhelming majority of the medical profession in Ireland." The council will meet again next Wednesday to discuss the legal implications. [The Irish Times, 7 June ] A nurse is standing trial in England accused of murdering a bedridden 84-year-old patient in a nursing home. Alison Firth is accused at Newcastle crown court of administering a lethal drug overdose to Mrs Alice Grant "to alleviate her suffering". Mrs Grant had suffered strokes, could no longer talk and required constant care. Alison Firth, who was said to be disgruntled after hearing of staff changes, was reported to have told a fellow employee: "I wish Alice would hurry up and die. It would give me something to do." [Daily Telegraph, 8 June] The number of unborn children being killed by abortion in Hong Kong has increased by 36 percent in the past five years, according to media reports. Pro-abortion groups have responded by urging more effective sex education for young people. [Hong Kong iMail Newspapers, 8 June ] A new opinion poll has indicated that a clear majority of Americans oppose federal funding of destructive embryonic stem cell research. A poll commissioned by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and carried out by International Communications Research indicated that 70 percent of the population opposed such research, while 24 percent were in favour. A national opinion poll commissioned last month by groups which supported embryonic stem cell research suggested that 70 percent were in favour [see news digest for 24 May ]. A spokesman for the Catholic bishops' secretariat for pro-life activities claimed that this apparent contradiction could be explained by the fact that pollsters commissioned by anti-life groups pushed false and misleading claims intended to elicit favourable answers. [Pro-Life Infonet, 8 June]

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