News, 18 February 2002
18 February 2002
18 February 2002 Dana Rosemary Scallon, an Irish member of the European parliament and a widely respected pro-lifer, has explained why she cannot in conscience support the abortion referendum proposals. Citing the various ways in which the proposed constitutional amendment would worsen the situation of unborn children in Ireland, both before and after implantation, Mrs Scallon said: "My conclusion has been reached after serious deliberation which has taken into account and been respectful of the many opinions out forward on the subject. As a matter of conscience and of my own integrity, my position must remain the same as it has always been-that I uphold the dignity of every human being from conception to natural death." [Media release, Dana Rosemary Scallon MEP, 18 February] Dana's stance is being supported by a number of pro-life groups in Ireland and elsewhere, including Ireland for Life and SPUC. The second baby in the world, and the first in Britain, to have been selected in the laboratory to provide matching tissue for a sick older sibling has been born in a London hospital. The child was created by in vitro fertilisation and then selected from among her siblings by pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to provide a match for her four-year-old brother who is fighting leukaemia. Doctors hope that stem cells extracted from the baby's umbilical cord could be used to treat her brother if he suffers a relapse. [Ananova, 16 February ] The president of Portugal supports a referendum on liberalising his country's law on abortion. President Jorge Sampaio, who is known to be in favour of abortion, claimed in an interview with the BBC that there were many illegal abortions taking place in Portugal and said: "We have to see what is actually happening. We can't disguise this issue, it's being disguised... We'll probably have to have a new referendum on this." The last referendum on abortion in Portugal was held in 1998, when voters rejected a proposal to legalise abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy by 51% to 49%. [BBC News online, 14 February ] It has been reported that 30 Irish hospitals will be licensed to provide direct abortions if there is an affirmative result in the abortion referendum on the sixth of next month. [Irish Independent, 18 February ] Mr Bertie Ahern, the taoiseach, has turned down a challenge by Mr Michael Noonan, the leader of the Fine Gael opposition party, for a televised debate on the referendum. Mr Ahern said that the referendum proposals were not a party political issue and that the people had to decide. [ibid. ] The papal nuncio to Germany has reportedly spent the past few days in talks at the Vatican on the fate of the only German bishop to defy a papal request to end participation in a state-sponsored counselling scheme through which pregnant women can get the certificate they need for an abortion. It is thought that, while the Vatican will not tolerate further disobedience by Bishop Franz Kamphaus of Limburg, it will not depose him but rather divest him of responsibility for Catholic pregnancy counselling services in his diocese. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18 February ] Dr Bernard Nathanson, one of the founders of the pro-abortion movement in the United States and a former abortion practitioner, who is now a pro-life campaigner, has urged the people of the Philippines not to go down the road of legalising abortion. Speaking in Manila, Dr Nathanson warned that one of the tactics of pro-abortionists was to distort, fabricate and magnify data, and he said that he doubted claims of extremely high rates of illegal abortion in the Philippines. [The Philippine Star, 17 February; via Pro-Life Infonet ] Canadian pro-abortionists have launched a television advertising campaign for the abortifacient morning-after pill. Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada (PPFC) have distributed five advertisements for the drug to five national broadcasters and 16 regional broadcasters, although CTV, one of the national broadcasters, is reported to have refused to show the advertisements because they are wrongly being presented as "public-service announcements". The PPFC campaign will also feature 5,000 posters in health centres, colleges and universities across Canada. [LifeSite, 15 February ] The pro-cloning authors of an editorial in last Friday's Science journal have argued for the abandonment of the term "therapeutic cloning" in favour of one that does not mention cloning at all. The researchers argue that the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos for the purposes of medical research should not be referred to as cloning because they have no intention of producing cloned babies. The authors prefer the term "nuclear transplantation" which they claim is more accurate. [Reuters Health, 14 February ] A spokesman for SPUC observed: "Pro-cloning researchers and others are attempting to use linguistic sleight of hand to erode the moral significance of human cloning. All human cloning is reproductive, inasfar as a new and distinct human individual is created in every case."