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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 October 2001

17 October 2001

17 October 2001 The high court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, this morning gave permission to SPUC and other pro-life groups to submit evidence in the judicial review being brought by the pro-abortion Family Planning Association (FPA). Mr Justice Kerr asked SPUC, Life, Care and Precious Life to file written submissions within five weeks. On 5 December he will decide which of the groups will be allowed to make spoken submissions. The FPA is claiming that the government should issue guidance as to when abortions can be carried out legally, but pro-life groups contend that this is just a ploy to liberalise the clear pro-life laws in Northern Ireland. [SPUC media release, 17 October ] The chairperson of the new Crisis Pregnancy Agency in the Republic of Ireland has said that her organisation will not attempt to dissuade women from aborting their unborn children in Britain. Ms Olive Braidon, former director of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said that the agency would serve all women regardless of their views. She added that the state already funded other agencies involved in non-directive pregnancy counselling in which all the options, including abortion in Britain, were presented. Abortion referral remains illegal in Ireland. [The Irish Examiner, 15 October ] Pro-lifers in the UK have reacted with concern to the news that a British woman will soon give birth to a baby specifically selected to provide his or her four-year-old brother, who has been fighting leukaemia, with compatible bone marrow. The unnamed woman and her partner travelled to the USA for the procedure, which involved in vitro fertilisation and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. The four-year-old's test-tube siblings who were found not to be compatible were killed. Nick Harris, senior researcher for the LIFE charity, insisted: "Human embryos should be treated with the utmost respect. They are not commodities to be created and then destroyed if they fail to contain the required genetic code." [BBC News online and LIFE media release, 15 October] The Hashmi family are seeking permission to select a so-called designer baby through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis in the UK, although they may also undergo the procedure in the USA if permission is denied in Britain [see news digest for 1 October 2001 ]. Eminent medical scholars speaking at a conference in London have rejected the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia. Dr Raanan Gillon, emeritus professor of medical ethics at Imperial College, London, told the meeting: "I have changed my mind over the years about the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia. It would do more harm than good." A spokesman for SPUC commented that, while it was encouraging to hear eminent doctors warning of the dangers of legalising euthanasia, legally sanctioned starvation and dehydration of PVS sufferers and lethal neglect of very elderly patients were already happening in British hospitals. [SPUC media release, 15 October ] Members of opposition parties in Spain's national parliament are pushing for a liberalisation of the country's abortion laws, although reports suggest that the issue is unlikely to be debated. The PSOE, currently the second largest party in both houses of the Spanish national legislature, favours an extension of the legal grounds for abortion to include "serious personal, family or social conflict" and the abolition of custodial sentences for illegal abortions. In 1996, there were about 51,000 abortions performed legally in Spain, a figure which corresponded to 12.6% of known pregnancies. 98% of abortions are said to be carried out on the grounds of a perceived threat to the mental health of the mother. [El Mundo, via Northern Light, 16 October ; additional information from SPUC] A former Canadian abortionist who was struck off the medical register in the UK for botching operations on 12 women, some of whom later died, will not face criminal charges. The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that there is no realistic prospect of bringing a conviction against Richard Neale who now lives in North Yorkshire, England. Dr Neale had previously been struck off the medical register in Canada after three women died in his care, at least one after a botched abortion. [BBC News online, 15 October ; LifeSite, 16 October ] It is not clear from the reports whether any of the operations botched by Dr Neale in the UK were abortions. Cardinal Bernard Law, the archbishop of Boston, has observed that the terrorist atrocities last month would not have happened if the perpetrators had respected the sanctity of human life. The cardinal was addressing participants in a pro-life march organised by Massachusetts Citizens for Life. [The Boston Globe, 15 October ]

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