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News, 3 December 2002

3 December 2002

3 December 2002 The English high court in London has begun hearing a legal challenge to the power of the UK's fertility regulator to issue licences for so-called designer babies. Josephine Quintavalle, acting on behalf of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), was given permission in July to mount a judicial review of the decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to allow the selection of IVF babies using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for the purpose of producing a baby to serve as a tissue donor for a sick older sibling. CORE argues that the HFEA has assumed decision-making responsibilities which are the exclusive domain of parliament. The case is expected to conclude tomorrow. [BBC News online, 3 December ] The pro-abortion Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has launched an attack on the pro-life policies of Dana Rosemary Scallon, a prominent Irish member of the European parliament. Catherine Heany, a spokesman for IFPA, said that Dana's campaign against EU funding of reproductive health programmes [which include the provision of abortion] in developing countries was putting the lives of women and children at risk and must not succeed. Ms Heany said that the US decision to withhold $34 million in aid for such programmes had been "disastrous", and claimed that the money could have prevented about 5,000 maternal deaths, 77,000 infant and child deaths, and two million unwanted pregnancies. [Irish Examiner, 3 December] A spokesman for SPUC said: "Ms Heany's wild, exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims appear to have spiralled out of control. They are not only absurd but also completely out of place because other countries have made up for the US funding." IFPA is an affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the world's largest abortion promoter. A senator in the Philippines has received the backing of the Catholic Church after he warned that legislation to increase access to birth control was unconstitutional because it would legalise abortifacients. Senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. told parliament that House Bill 4110 and Senate Bill 2335 were contrary to the country's pro-life constitution because they "would make all sorts of contraceptives available to women regardless of whether or not those contraceptives may be suspect as abortifacients". The senator continued: "Women would have the power to end unwanted pregnancies. In blunt talk, that means aborting the foetus; safely, perhaps, for the mother, but most certainly unsafely for the baby whose life would be terminated with extreme prejudice." A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines agreed with the senator's comments, describing his insights as "invaluable". [LifeSite, 2 December ] Dr Philip Nitschke, the Australian pro-euthanasia campaigner, has designed a new machine to facilitate suicide. The device will enable the users to commit suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide, but will be marketed as an oxygen machine for legal reasons. Dr Nitschke plans to unveil the machine, which is expected to cost about £40, at a conference in the US next month. Earlier this year in Australia, Dr Nitschke launched so-called exit bags which can be used to facilitate suicide by suffocation. [Orange Today, 3 December ] The US supreme court has refused to consider an appeal against pro-life vehicle number plates in Louisiana, a decision which may bring to a close a long-running legal battle over "Choose Life" plates in a number of states. In Louisiana, as elsewhere, a proportion of the proceeds from the sale of the plates is given to organisations which promote adoption as an alternative to abortion, but opponents of the plates have argued that they violate the constitutional separation of church and state. The supreme court justices rejected the case without comment. [AP, via Pro-Life Infonet, 2 December]

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