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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 19 March 2001

19 March 2001

19 March 2001 A 24-year-old British man has gone to the High Court in an attempt to prevent his ex-girlfriend from aborting their unborn child. Mr Stephen Hone from Coventry was deeply distressed when his 31-year-old girlfriend told him of her decision to obtain an abortion. Mr Hone, who is not religious, explained: "I am fighting for my child, but I am also fighting for a father's rights ... I am not asking too much; she is three months pregnant now. I am asking for six months out of her life to save the life of a child." Mr Hone added that, if he lost the case, he would fight to avoid his child's tissue being donated for medical research. He said: "If the worst comes to the worst I want to give my unborn baby a decent burial." Under a legal precedent set in 1978, a father has "no rights whatsoever" under the 1967 Abortion Act to prevent his child from being aborted. In 1987, Robert Carver, a student at Oxford University, failed to gain an injunction against his girlfriend's having an abortion, although she subsequently relented. In Mr Hone's case, lawyers are arguing that the requirements of the Abortion Act have not properly been met and that consequently the abortion cannot legally be carried out. [BBC News online, 19 March ; Daily Mail, 17 March] The Portuguese parliament has approved the free distribution of abortifacient morning-after pills. The drug will now be available free of charge from pharmacies, hospitals and health centres. The socialist, communist-green and left bloc parliamentary groupings supported the measure, while the social democrats opposed it on the basis that the morning-after pill was a "concealed method of abortion". Portugal's Catholic bishops also opposed the move. [Zenit news agency, 16 March ] A 10% rise in the use of abortifacient morning-after pills of various types has been reported in the UK since Levonelle-2 became available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription at the start of the year. Schering, the makers of the Levonelle-2 morning-after pill, have announced that 261,000 packs of various types of morning-after pill have been used since January. The total for the year 2001 is now expected to pass the one million mark for the first time, with 1,045,000 packs being used. About a third of the morning-after pills taken so far this year have been in the form of Levonelle-2 obtained from pharmacists, while two thirds have been on prescription from doctors. [Mail on Sunday, 18 March] Legislators in South Australia are to consider a bill which would authorise euthanasia. The state parliament rejected a bill to allow euthanasia two years ago, but another measure said to have tighter safeguards has now been proposed. Bob Such, a member of the legislature, claimed that 75% to 80% of the population supported the bill and that impending state elections made the bill's success more likely. Australia's Northern Territory legalised euthanasia in 1996, but the Australian federal parliament reversed the move eight months later. [AFP, 15 March; via Pro-Life E-News] It has been reported that 5 million women and 4 million men in Russia are now infertile, a fact which is contributing to the continuing decline in the country's birth-rate. There are more than two million abortions performed in Russia every year, 10% of which are said to leave the woman unable to bear children. Infertility, abortions and miscarriages mean that there are 750,000 fewer babies born in Russia each year than are needed to maintain a stable population rate. [Zenit news agency , 18 March] It has been reported that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been distributing abortifacient drugs and devices in El Salvador, violating the country's pro-life constitution. Abortion is outlawed in El Salvador and the constitution was amended in 1999 to recognise that life began at the moment of conception, but the response of the UNFPA to the earthquakes which hit the country in January and last month was to fly in so-called reproductive health kits containing morning-after pills and intra-uterine devices (IUDs). Steven W Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, said: "...before the dust settled from the first earthquake, the UNFPA had already begun shipping their now infamous reproductive health kits. Leave it to the UNFPA to offer a traumatised woman an IUD rather than water, food [or] clothing for herself and her displaced family." [PRI, 16 March ] The Catholic bishops of Peru have announced that they will celebrate a day of the unborn on Sunday (25 March), the solemnity of the Annunciation. Argentina was the first South American country to mark the day, at a civil level as well as on the part of religious leaders. [Zenit news agency , 18 March]

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