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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 27 August 2002

27 August 2002

27 August 2002 SPUC has condemned a call by Ms Clare Short, Britain's international development secretary, for abortion to be declared a human right at the United Nations Earth Summit now underway in Johannesburg. Peter Smith, SPUC's delegate at the summit, said: "Clare Short still seems stuck in the late 1960s with the myth that population control equals less poverty. As an in-depth study in this week's Economist has shown, America's increasingly higher fertility rate will in all likelihood lead to a younger, more dynamic and prosperous society, whereas decreasing European fertility partly caused by abortion will mean that Europe becomes even more the Old World. Abortion is not a human right but an outdated and unnecessary procedure which is destructive of both children and society as a whole." The Liberal Democrats, Britain's third largest political party, have condemned SPUC for its campaign against the provision of morning-after pills to young teenage girls from supermarkets. Sandra Gidley MP, the Liberal Democrats' health spokesman in parliament, said: "Supporters of this campaign appear to support bringing babies that may not be wanted into the world. We need a sensible and practical approach to the rise in teenage pregnancy rates - not ill-judged campaigns such as this." [Liberal Democrats, 23 August ] John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, commented: "We thought that responsible politicians had got beyond the hackneyed dogma that unborn children should be destroyed in order to make 'every child a wanted child'. The supply of the abortion-inducing morning-after pill by Sainsbury's and other outlets devalues early human life and will fail to reduce teenage pregnancies." Pro-lifers in the UK have condemned the Medical Research Council for planning to launch Britain's first national embryonic stem cell bank on the first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the USA. A spokesman for the ProLife Alliance described the timing as "insensitive and cynical" because parliament will be in summer recess, media attention will be focused elsewhere, and there will be no time to discuss the implications of donor consent, patenting or the various regulatory processes. However, the spokesman stressed that these practical concerns were merely distractions because the most important issue was "the exploitation and loss of early human life" which would result from a commercial enterprise "which will bring shame not fame to our nation". [ProLife Alliance, 25 August ] England's high court will soon be asked to rule on whether UK law allows a woman to use her frozen IVF embryos to become pregnant even if the father refuses his consent. Two women who conceived by IVF before undergoing successful cancer treatment are planning to ask the high court in London to prevent their embryos from being destroyed at the behest of the fathers of the embryos. UK law appears to be quite clear in stipulating that both the father and mother of IVF embryos must consent to the use of their embryos in fertility treatment or experimentation. However, Muiris Lyons, a lawyer acting for Nattalie Evans and Lorraine Hadley will argue that precedents set in other countries should allow the court to rule that, as in natural pregnancies, once a man has agreed to give sperm to create a child, it is then up to the mother to decide whether or not to have the baby. [Reuters, 24 August ] Legislation to authorise destructive embryonic stem cell research will probably not be finalised before the end of the year after it was referred to a senate committee for further scrutiny. Senator Ron Boswell referred the bill to the senate's community affairs legislation committee because be believes that legislators need more time to consider an issue on which scientists are divided. It is reported that the referral will mean that Australia's upper house of parliament will not debate the bill before mid-November. Meanwhile, as the lower House of Representatives continues to debate the merits of embryonic research, the leader of the Australian Anglican church has come out in its favour. Archbishop Peter Carnley of Perth said: "I think it's ethically possible to have stem cell research and I hope that if that research goes ahead that we'll make great advances for medical research." [CNSNews, via Crosswalk, 26 August ; ABC News, 27 August ] California's state senate has passed another pro-abortion bill, this time to protect the confidentiality of staff and patients of abortion clinics. Legislators voted by 23 to 11 in favour of a measure which would allow doctors, nurses, volunteers and patients of abortion facilities to enrol in a state privacy programme originally intended for the victims of domestic violence. The so-called Safe at Home programme allows its members to conceal their addresses and have their mail forwarded anonymously. The measure will now return to the state Assembly, which last week passed another bill to enshrine a right to abortion. [AP, via Conta Costa Times, 23 August ; see digest for 21 August ]

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