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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 May 2001

16 May 2001

16 May 2001 The UK's largest private abortion provider has claimed that more than half of women who have abortions are in steady relationships. Official statistics indicate that only about one in five women who obtain abortions are married, but the British Pregnancy Advisory Service says that this does not take into account the growing phenomenon of cohabitation among young adults. Observers say that the claims appear to contradict the assumption that abortion is used mainly by single women as a last resort. Robert Whelan of Family and Youth Concern linked the rise in abortions to the rise in cohabitation and said: "There is no data on why women with partners have abortions but I would suspect it is because of the instability of cohabiting relationships." [Daily Mail in Scotland, 15 May] A professor in Australia has claimed that he could supply embryonic stem cells to every research laboratory in the world. Professor Alan Trounson's team at Monash University first managed to extract stem cells from embryos left over from in vitro fertilisation treatment two years ago [a process which entailed the killing of the embryos]. Professor Trounson told a meeting in Melbourne that embryonic stem cells can continue replicating forever, and that "hypothetically, we would never have to go back and use another embryo". [Sydney Morning Herald, 14 May ] Louisiana's state house of representatives has approved a measure to protect babies who survive late abortions. Members voted by 87 to 13 in favour of the Born Alive Infants Protection Bill, which will now pass to the senate. The legislation would stipulate that women who were more than 20 weeks pregnant and who wanted an abortion would have to undergo an ultrasound test to determine foetal viability. If the child were deemed viable, the procedure could only continue in order to save the woman's life or health and a second physician would have to be on hand to care for the child should he or she survive. [AP and Americans United for Life, 15 May; via Pro-Life Infonet] The American Life League (ALL) has condemned a new so-called contraceptive patch which can work by preventing the implantation of a newly conceived human. A Canadian study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that the Ortho Evra transdermal patch, produced by Johnson and Johnson, is as effective and more convenient than the conventional contraceptive pill. However, Judie Brown, president of ALL, noted that even the makers of the patch admitted its abortifacient potential. [The Globe and Mail , 9 May; ALL, 15 May] A controversial study linking legalised abortion with a reduction in crime during the 1990s has been published in a respected American journal. The study by John J Donohue III of Stanford Law School and Steven D Levitt of the University of Chicago has been published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. It claims that "legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime" on account of "the possibility that abortion has a disproportionate effect on the births of those who are most at risk of engaging in criminal behaviour". [Cybercast News Service, 15 May ] The Vatican has criticised a series of assertions made by a prominent Spanish theologian relating to the sanctity of life and human sexuality. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has asked Rev Marciano Vidal, a professor of moral theology at the Pontifical University in Comillas, to revise his writings after he appeared to support the use of in vitro fertilisation treatment and suggested that birth control methods which impeded implantation might not be morally equivalent to abortion. [AP, 15 May; via Alabama Live]

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