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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 September 2001

11 September 2001

11 September 2001 A coalition of British pro-life groups has been given permission by the High Court in London to intervene in the judicial review being brought by Mrs Diane Pretty. Mrs Pretty, who suffers from motor neurone disease, is seeking the legal right to be helped to commit suicide by her husband. However, the coalition is appealing against a decision not to allow it to submit evidence on such topics as palliative care. Mr Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC, said: "The court's decision that we can participate is most welcome because it means that there will be someone in court to speak for the thousands of disabled and elderly people whose right to basic care may be undermined by the outcome of the case." The members of the coalition are SPUC, the Medical Ethics Alliance and ALERT. [SPUC media release, 11 September ] It has been reported that the people of Switzerland will vote in a referendum on whether to legalise abortion next Summer. The change to the Swiss legal code, which was approved by the country's parliament in April, would allow women to obtain abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy after explaining their reasons to one doctor. The Swiss Catholic bishops have condemned the proposal, stressing that one of the first responsibilities of the state is to protect human life in all its phases. [Zenit, 10 September ] Mr Bertie Ahern, the Irish taoiseach, has signalled his determination to hold a referendum on abortion. A spokesman for Mr Ahern revealed on Sunday that the taoiseach [prime minister] was regularly consulting with pro-life campaigners on the issue. Mr Ahern has not said when the referendum would be held, although the cabinet sub-committee on the issue is thought to be finalising its recommendation and a poll could be held either later this year or early next year. Sources close to Mr Ahern have claimed that he is anxious to ensure the support of pro-life groups, the Catholic Church and the medical profession before pressing ahead with a referendum. [The Irish Times, 10 September ] The national director of SPUC, Europe's longest-established pro-life group, has committed his organisation to increasing awareness of the abortifacient nature of morning-after pills, intra-uterine devices, mini-pills and combined contraceptive pills. Addressing SPUC's annual national conference in Newcastle last weekend, Mr John Smeaton said: "The credibility of SPUC's campaigns against cloning, human embryo research, abortion and euthanasia will be undermined unless we give witness to the destruction of countless embryos by birth control drugs and devices." The conference was also addressed by Professor Jack Scarisbrick, chairman of the Life charity, among others. [SPUC media release, 10 September ] The Catholic bishops of Chiapas state in southern Mexico have urged the faithful not to vote for pro-abortion candidates in next month's local elections. [Agencia EFE, via Northern Light, 7 September ] Pope John Paul II has stressed that development cannot be genuine if it denies the dignity of all human persons. In an address to the new Irish ambassador to the Vatican, the Pope observed: "When the Church defends the right to life of every innocent person-from conception to natural death-as one of the pillars on which every civil society stands, she is simply promoting a human state, a community in fundamental agreement with human nature." [Zenit, 7 September ] Fr Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, has been told by his bishop to stand down from his position and resume full-time ministry in the archdiocese of New York. Fr Pavone had been appointed to lead the well-known American pro-life organisation by Cardinal John O'Connor in 1993, but Cardinal Edward Egan, the present archbishop of New York, is facing a shortage of parish priests. [EWTN News, 10 September ]

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