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News, 6 November 2001

6 November 2001

6 November 2001 The House of Lords, England's highest court, has granted permission to a coalition of pro-life groups, including SPUC, to intervene in Mrs Dianne Pretty's appeal. Mrs Pretty's request for a right to die was turned down by the High Court, but last week the law lords agreed to hear her appeal. The pro-life coalition's submission to the court will be made in writing on or before Friday (9 November) and the appeal will be heard on Wednesday and Thursday of next week. [SPUC, 6 November ] A university in Japan has approved the country's first programme of destructive embryonic stem cell research. An ethics committee at Kyoto university gave the go-ahead for the research due to start in March, although final approval is still needed from the Japanese government. [Ananova, 5 November ] Legislators in the Canadian province of Alberta are considering whether to withdraw public funding for abortions in a bid to save money. The province currently spends $5 million a year on the provision of abortion, but half of doctors and a majority of the population are said to favour using the money to fund other health needs instead. [LifeSite, 5 November ] The pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is ready to offer so-called reproductive health care services to Afghan refugees. The agency has revealed its intention "to provide displaced Afghan women with lifesaving reproductive health care services" and Thoraya Obaid, executive director of the UNFPA, said that "protecting against ... unwanted pregnancy" was one of the agency's highest priorities. Last month, Pamela DeLargy, senior co-ordinator of the UNFPA's response to the Afghan crisis, said: "We often forget about the special needs that women and girls have, particularly reproductive health care." So-called reproductive health services include abortion and abortifacient methods of birth control according to an official UN definition. The UNFPA has provided abortifacients to women in other crisis-hit areas, including Bosnia and El Salvador. [UNFPA press release, 28 September and news conference, 22 October ; also see SPUC digests for 26 July 2000 and 19 March 2001 ] A Republican candidate for the US senate who espouses Catholicism has compared pro-life politicians to the Taleban. Mr James Oberweis, who announced his candidacy in Illinois on Sunday, explained why he was not a pro-life candidate by saying: "I think the Taleban is the best example that we've ever had about what is wrong about my trying to impose my religious views on you." Mr Oberweis has since rejected a demand for an apology made by the Catholic League. [LifeSite, 5 November ]

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