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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 3 May 2001

3 May 2001

3 May 2001 Pro-life groups in the UK have warmly welcomed SPUC's victory in the High Court yesterday. Bruno Quintavalle, a spokesman for the ProLife Alliance, congratulated SPUC on its success and observed that it was astounding that the Department of Health had not bothered either to address the matter or to be represented in court. Student LifeNet issued a statement to say that it was "delighted" to hear of the result, and noted that the description of the morning-after pill as a contraceptive deceived women by "obscuring the devastating effects both to their unborn child and to their own health". On the other hand, Ann Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, called the result "disappointing and extraordinary" while Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK's largest private abortion provider, condemned the decision and called it "bizarre". The Department of Health said that the British government would strongly contest the action. [Times , Daily Telegraph and Metro, 3 May; BBC News online , CNSNews and London Evening Standard , 2 May] The international relations committee of the US House of Representatives yesterday adopted a measure which would have the effect of overturning President Bush's Mexico City policy. This policy blocks US federal funding of any group which either promotes or provides abortions abroad. The committee voted by 26 to 22 in favour of the measure, which took the form of an amendment to the state department's spending bill. A White House spokesman indicated that the administration would seek to remove the amendment when the bill was discussed on the floor of the House. [Washington Post, 3 May] A feminist lobby group in Australia has been granted permission to fight the Australian Catholic bishops' conference in court over the provision of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment to single women and lesbians. The Catholic bishops are asking the country's High Court to overturn an earlier ruling which granted IVF treatment to single women in the state of Victoria [see news digests for 31 July and 1 August 2000] but the Women's Electoral Lobby will now intervene to resist the move. The full hearing is expected to take place in August or September. [The Australian, 1 May ] Most new human beings generated by IVF treatment die in the process. One expert has suggested that only 1.7 percent of IVF conceptions result in a live birth. [Dr E L Billings, India, August 1999] A prominent pro-life gynaecologist has lamented the fact that those with pro-life views are being driven out of obstetrics and gynaecology as a result of discrimination. Dr Robert L Walley, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Memorial University in St John's, Newfoundland, Canada, will be among those attending an international conference on the issue in Rome next month. Dr Walley said that pro-life doctors in many countries were coming under great pressure to compromise on their views, and that such a state of affairs would not be tolerated in any other branch of medicine. [Zenit, 1 May ] A federal appeals court in the United States has struck down a court order which had prevented pro-life campaigners in Washington DC from protesting within 20 feet of abortion clinics. The DC circuit of the US Court of Appeals agreed that members of the Christian Defense Coalition had illegally blocked an abortion facility in January 1998, but decided that the language used by the lower court when it barred the protesters from all abortion facilities was too broad and violated the constitutional right of free speech. [Washington Post, 2 May ] American scientists have extracted stem cells from the bodies of people who have died. A team led by Fred Gage at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, has reportedly managed to obtain stem cells from "post mortem samples and surgical specimens". The technique was reported in the journal Nature which suggested that it overcame the ethical objections to the destructive use of human embryos as a source of stem cells. [BBC News online, 2 May ; Metro, 3 May]

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