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News, 30 May 2001

30 May 2001

30 May 2001 The pro-abortion Family Planning Association (FPA) will present its case against Northern Ireland's abortion restrictions at the high court in Belfast on 13 June. The FPA will argue that Bairbre de Brun, Northern Ireland's health minister, acted unlawfully by failing to issue guidance on what abortion services were available in the six counties and when abortions could legally be carried out. Britain's 1967 Abortion Act does not apply in Northern Ireland. [The Guardian, 30 May ] It has been claimed that the British Liberal Democrats are backing away from endorsing euthanasia and abortion on demand. Martin Turner, a spokesman for the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, said that voluntary euthanasia had been dropped from the manifesto and that the party had stepped back from the promotion of the availability of abortion. Lord Alton, a former Liberal Democrat MP, noted that official Liberal Democrat policy was set by the party's annual conference, which had voted in favour of both euthanasia and abortion. He observed: "The irrefutable fact, however, is that the Liberal Democrats have an official party policy in favour of a Royal Commission to examine the legalisation of euthanasia." [Catholic Herald, 25 May] A Canadian researcher has compiled a list of 27 studies which indicate a link between abortion and premature birth. The studies, published in journals such as the British Medical Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest a significantly higher chance of premature births in women who have previously had induced abortions. Babies who are born prematurely are at increased risk of respiratory disease, cerebral palsy and infant death. Brent Rooney, who compiled the list, has written to the Canadian federal health minister to say that women should be made aware of these risks before obtaining an abortion. [LifeSite, 29 May ] An American national newspaper has reported on the phenomenon of "bachelor villages" in China, where the one-child family policy and sex-selective abortions are leading to an increasingly unbalanced male to female ratio. Crime is said to have grown among the millions of single men of marrying age, and in some areas there are 140 boys for every 100 girls. Wu Cangping, a demographer, claimed that every county and even individual townships now had ultrasound machines which were used illegally to determine the sex of unborn children. [Zenit, 29 May ] Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman in four films, has joined seven scientists in filing a federal lawsuit which accuses President Bush's administration of illegally withholding funds for destructive embryonic stem cell research. The administration halted all funding of such research pending a review by the department of health and human sciences, although the review board has not yet met. The lawsuit alleges that federal statutes had already made the funding legal and that administration officials failed to adhere to the proper procedures to halt the funding. Mr Reeve, who is paralysed following a spinal injury, is a prominent campaigner for destructive embryonic stem cell research despite the potential of ethical alternatives. [AP, 29 May ; San Francisco Chronicle, 29 May, via Pro-Life Infonet] A US federal judge has confirmed that Wisconsin's ban on partial birth abortions cannot be enforced following an appeal court ruling last month that the ban was unconstitutional. Wisconsin's law, which contained an exception only when the woman's life was in danger, was considered too restrictive according to the precedent set by the US Supreme Court last year when it threw out Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban. [AP, 29 May; via Pro-Life Infonet]

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