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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 May 2001

11 May 2001

11 May 2001 The pro-abortion Family Planning Association (FPA) has announced its intention to seek a judicial review of Northern Ireland's exemption from Britain's Abortion Act. The legislation, passed by the UK parliament in 1967, applied only to England, Wales and Scotland. Audrey Simpson, director of the FPA in Northern Ireland, claimed that the current legal situation regarding abortion in the six counties needed to be "clarified" and added: "It is a gross injustice to the women of Northern Ireland that they are forced to travel for a basic healthcare service which should be theirs by right." Pro-lifers criticised the move. Mr Liam Gibson, a spokesman for SPUC in Northern Ireland, described it as "an outrageous interference in the political and moral affairs of our part of the world". Mr Gibson observed that the overwhelming majority in Northern Ireland, both unionists and nationalists, opposed the liberalisation of abortion law. [SPUC media release, 8 May ; The Scotsman and BBC News online , 9 May] The White House has announced that President Bush will veto the bill which provides funding for the US State Department unless Congress removes an amendment overturning the Mexico City Policy [see news digest for 3 May]. President Bush reinstated the policy which blocks US federal funding of any international organisation which either provides or promotes abortion on his first full working day in office. [Pro-Life Infonet, 10 May; etc.] British Muslims have condemned the use of the abortifacient morning-after pill. Dr A Majid Katme, the spokesman on medical and ethical issues for Islamic Concern, said: "The womb is a highly sacred organ in Islam and the process of implantation [ALAQ in the Qur'an] is sacred too... the morning-after pill can result in early abortion, which is a killing of an existent life, an act strictly prohibited in Islam." Dr Katme said that his organisation supported SPUC's legal action against the British government's decision to make the drug available from pharmacists without prescription. [The Pakistan Post, 10 May] A study into assisted suicide in Oregon has concluded that many of the state's doctors are uncertain about the practice. The Death with Dignity Act, which was passed in 1994 and took effect in 1997, allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who are considered mentally competent. However, a survey of 2,641 doctors published in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that a large majority had practical concerns about assisting suicide under the terms of the Act. 27 percent of the 73 physicians who had made out a lethal prescription admitted that they were not confident in their ability to determine whether a patient had less than six months to live. [Scientific American, 9 May ] The fertility rate in England and Wales has sunk to the lowest level ever recorded. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics have indicated that there were 2.8 percent fewer births last year than in 1999. The average fertility [birth] rate for 2000 is expected to be 1.66 children per woman, down from 1.7 in 1999 and 1.72 in 1998. [Daily Telegraph, 11 May] There are about 500 surgical abortions every day in England and Wales alone. Many more newly conceived humans die in chemical abortions. Legislators in Massachusetts are considering a measure which would require doctors to tell women who request an abortion about the possible link between the procedure and breast cancer. Mississippi is the only American state to have enacted such legislation, although at least 16 other states are reported to be considering similar laws. Studies have shown higher rates of breast cancer after induced abortion, although the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have both argued that a direct causative link between abortion and cancer remains unproven. [AP, via Yahoo! News, 6 May ]

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