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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 September 2001

12 September 2001

12 September 2001 Pro-life organisations have been among the many groups to express shock and horror at yesterday's terrorist attacks in the United States. Jacki Ragan, an official at the National Right to Life Committee based in Washington DC, said: "All I can think of are the countless lives lost this morning because of senseless acts of terrorism." SPUC in London joins with others in condemning these outrages against the sanctity of human life and expresses its deepest sympathy for all those who have been injured or bereaved. The judge considering whether the Northern Ireland health department should issue guidance on the availability of abortion services is to consider evidence from the Irish Catholic bishops. He will decide in four weeks' time whether also to look at evidence from SPUC. The judicial review is taking place at the request of the Family Planning Association (FPA). If the review goes the FPA's way, it could lead to availability of abortion effectively on demand in Northern Ireland. Mrs Betty Gibson, chairman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "We are pleased that the judge will look at the bishops' evidence and shall be happy to supply our own if so requested." [SPUC media release, 12 September ] Britain's largest private provider of abortions has called for an overhaul of abortion services to meet demand. Ann Furedi, director of communications at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said that the government's target of ensuring access to abortion for all women within three weeks of a legal request by 2005 was unattainable without breaking "the mould of the way abortions are carried out here". Ms Furedi continued: "Women want abortions that are convenient to slot into their lives. They want to be able to come into the clinic and to be able to be treated and to be able to leave within a couple of hours." Professor Jack Scarisbrick, chairman of the Life charity, disagreed and said that women needed time to reflect on what they were doing. [BBC News online, 12 September ] Doctors in Cambridge, England, are transplanting foetal brain cells from aborted unborn children into patients with Huntington's disease. The Medical Research Council's brain repair unit has been working on the technique for 15 years, but the new trials are said to be the first involving adult humans. Six million foetal brain cells were injected into the brain of the first patient at Addenbrooke's hospital in an operation lasting several hours. A BBC documentary team is following the trials. [BBC News online, 11 September ] A Canadian woman has died after taking the RU-486 abortion drug, also known as mifepristone or Mifeprex. The woman, who was involved in a Canadian trial of the drug, is said to have died from septic shock resulting from a rare clostridium infection, although it is unclear whether the infection was directly related to the chemical abortion. The Population Council has suspended the trial and reported the death to the US Food and Drug Administration. [AP and Washington Post, 11 September; via Pro-Life E-News] A Swiss male nurse has confessed to the killings of 27 elderly patients. Roger Andermatt, aged 32, had originally admitted responsibility for nine deaths [see news digest for 6 July 2001 ] but has now confessed to 18 further killings. He claims to have drugged and suffocated the elderly patients out of sympathy and compassion for their plights. However, the magistrate involved in the case revealed that Mr Andermatt had also admitted to feeling relieved and "somehow liberated" after each patient had died. Euthanasia is already tolerated in a number of Swiss cantons. [BBC News online, 11 September ] Two British fertility and cloning experts have pulled out of a conference on cloning because it was to be presided over by Professor Severino Antinori. Dr Anne McLaren, a member of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and Professor Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute, which cloned Dolly the sheep, made their decisions to pull out of the symposium in Monte Carlo next month because Professor Antinori plans to implant cloned humans inside women for reproductive purposes. Professor Wilmut supports the use of human embryos created through reproductive cloning technology only in destructive experimentation. [Daily Telegraph, 12 September ; also see news digest for 13 April 2000 ]

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