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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 13 August 2002

13 August 2002

13 August 2002 An investigation by the BBC has revealed that a Swiss company is helping foreign nationals to commit suicide in Zurich. A report on last night's Newsnight programme on British national television revealed that Dignitas, a company based in Zurich, has so far assisted over 100 terminally, chronically or psychologically ill people from different countries to commit suicide. As well as offering an introduction to a doctor who can provide the lethal drugs, the firm also provides an apartment in Zurich where the suicide can take place. While assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, making a profit from it is not. Instead, Dignitas charges a £10 membership fee. [BBC Newsnight programme, 12 August ; Daily Telegraph, 13 August] The social issues agency of the United Methodist Church has strongly criticised the US government's decision to block federal funding of the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Jim Winkler, leader of the denomination's board of church and society, described the decision as "a frontal assault on women and the United Nations" and criticised President Bush's administration for "caving in to extremist forces". [LifeSite, 12 August ] The official position of the UMC, which is the second largest protestant denomination in the United States, is that abortion may be permitted after "prayerful consideration by the parties involved" because "devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy". [UMC website ] Muslim leaders in The Gambia have denounced attempts to limit population growth by means of indiscriminate distribution of birth control devices. Banding Drammeh, president of the Supreme Islamic Council, told a conference on population issues that the provision of birth control devices to youngsters and unmarried couples was "completely un-Islamic or irreligious". [IPPF News, 9 August] Many birth control methods are abortifacient, such as the morning-after pill and the IUD. The governing body of the American Bar Association (ABA) will decide this week whether to endorse destructive experimentation on cloned human embryos. The proposal before the ABA, the largest lawyers' organisation in the US, would endorse cloning "to advance human health" and condemn moves to criminalise destructive research into so-called therapeutic cloning. If the board recommends the proposal, it could still be amended or defeated by the ABA's full House of Delegates. Legislation to ban all human cloning remains stalled in the US Senate. [AP, via Yahoo! News , and LifeSite, 12 August ] A team at Loughborough university in England has been awarded £145,000 by the UK's Engineering and Physical Science Research Council to design a car seat-belt which is both comfortable and safe for use by pregnant women. It is thought that a significant number of unborn children have died in car crashes, either because their mother was not wearing a seat-belt or because pressure exerted by the seat-belt itself caused internal injuries. [Daily Telegraph, 10 August]

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