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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 November 2001

5 November 2001

5 November 2001 An audit of publicly funded abortion facilities in Britain has found that many of them are failing to achieve targets for access set in 1999. An audit of 230 National Health Service abortion facilities in England and Wales carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) found that 34% of facilities failed to provide women with abortions within one week of their first visit to a doctor, while 33% failed to offer both surgical and chemical abortions to women in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. One in four units did not provide adequate screening for abortion complications such as infection. However, the RCOG said that it was "encouraged" that 66% of facilities were meeting their targets. [BBC News online, 4 November ] Dominic Baster of SPUC commented: "By setting targets for access to abortion, the RCOG is ignoring the moral issues involved and is trying to present the procedure merely as a consumer-orientated public service. In fact, abortion means death to unborn children and blights the whole of our society." The British government has ordered an investigation into sex selection at in vitro fertilisation clinics. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates fertility treatment in the UK, only allows licensed clinics to offer sex selection for medical reasons [such as when a certain inherited genetic anomaly is sex-specific] but a legal loophole means that private, unlicensed clinics can offer it for social reasons as long as they use a technique other than pre-implantation genetic diagnosis [which involves the destruction of embryos of the undesired sex]. Reports suggest that three private fertility clinics in the UK offer sex selection for social reasons. [BBC News online, 5 November ] The Kenyan chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers has added its voice to calls for the legalisation of abortion. A government-appointed committee has already recommended the legalisation of abortion in Kenya, which inherited Britain's pre-1967 pro-life laws. [Africa News Service, 2 November; via Northern Light ] Professor Severino Antinori, the Italian fertility expert who intends to offer women the chance of giving birth to cloned babies, is to seek permission to conduct his research in the UK. Professor Antinori said that he wanted to work in Britain because it possessed the most advanced facilities, and would be applying to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a licence to conduct research into reproductive cloning. A spokesman for the HFEA said that the application would be very unlikely to succeed. [The Independent, 5 November ] All forms of human cloning would be reproductive since as an individual human being would be brought into being in every case. Breast cancer has overtaken lung cancer as the commonest form of cancer in the UK, according to new statistics. Experts have admitted that they do not understand why there has been a steady rise in the incidence of breast cancer over the last three decades. [BBC News online, 5 November ] Many studies have suggested a causal link between abortion and breast cancer (see news digests for 26 February and 22 June ). Today about a third of British women have an abortion before the age of 45. Oriental rite Catholics in southern India are praying four million rosaries in an act of penance to counteract abortion and other aspects of the culture of death. Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Trichur has urged the 450,000 Catholics in his Syro-Malabar rite diocese to join the prayer campaign, which was launched last year by E C George, a layman. [EWTN News, 1 November , etc.]

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