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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 19 August 2002

19 August 2002

19 August 2002 Pro-lifers have reacted with alarm at news that the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is opening an emergency mobile hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, to provide so-called maternity health services. Scott Weinberg of the US-based Population Research Institute said: "We're concerned about what the UNFPA defines as 'emergency health services' because UNFPA provides emergency abortion equipment as well as abortion-inducing morning-after pills and IUDs. They also support forced abortion in China. Clearly, the UNFPA is not providing for the basic health needs of women, but is following its own pro-abortion agenda." [UN Wire, 14 August ; PRI and SPUC] The Pope has warned against any interference in the "mystery of life" during an open-air Mass attended by more than two and a half million people in Krakow, Poland. In his homily, Pope John Paul II said that modern man was putting himself in God's place by claiming "for himself the creator's right to interfere in the mystery of human life". The Pope warned of the dangers posed by genetic manipulation, euthanasia and other attacks on life and the family, and stressed that the shepherds of the Church could not fail to proclaim the truth of Christ in the face of "the noisy propaganda of liberalism, of freedom without truth or responsibility". [Guardian, 19 August ; Fox News and VOA News, 18 August ] An influential United Nations committee is pushing Peru to liberalise its abortion laws. Members of the committee which monitors compliance with the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) last week berated a representative of the Peruvian government for the fact that abortion was still unacceptable in Peru and said that access to the morning-after pill should be a priority. Charlotte Abaka, the committee's chairperson, claimed that Peru's recognition of an unborn child's right to life "contributed to the maternal mortality rate" because pregnant underage girls had to continue with their pregnancies despite allegedly high rates of medical complications. [LifeSite, 16 August ] Australian government advisors have rejected claims that the current legislation to regulate destructive stem cell research on human embryos could also ban abortion. Dr David Molloy, chairman of Australia's IVF clinics directors group, warned that a section in the bill which outlawed the removal of a "viable human embryo" from a woman could be "hijacked by the Catholics and the conservatives" and applied to abortion. However, the government's technical advisor on the bill has insisted that this is not true because the section refers to the "collection" of embryos, not their destruction. The bill is due to be debated in parliament this week. [The Mercury, 17 August ; Sydney Morning Herald, 18 August ] Professor Ian Wilmut, creator of Dolly the cloned sheep, has said that the bad results of animal cloning experiments should lead to a ban on human cloning for reproductive purposes. Professor Wilmut admitted that 99% of animal cloning attempts ended in failure, and that the offspring of apparently successfully cloned animals were genetically or physically abnormal. He also drew attention to the suffering endured by the tens of thousands of animals who were created in flawed cloning attempts each year. [Scotland on Sunday, 18 August] The flaws in the cloning process revealed by the failure of animal cloning serve as a warning of the dangers inherent in so-called human therapeutic cloning. This fact further demonstrates the benefits of ethical adult stem cell technology as a safer and more promising alternative. The suicide of a 56-year-old woman in Adelaide, South Australia, is being used to push for the legalisation of euthanasia. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES) in South Australia has claimed that Jo Shearer decided to kill herself because she was suffering unbearable pain but was unable to discuss her plans with family or friends for fear of implicating them in an illegal act. She was not in the last stages of a terminal illness. The VES has released the text of an open letter written by Jo Shearer to legislators in South Australia in which calls for the legalisation of euthanasia and explains that she could not face the prospect of years or decades left to live with her pain. [ABC News, 17 August]

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