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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 February 2002

4 February 2002

4 February 2002 A 23-year-old lady in Hertfordshire, England, is reported to be expecting conjoined twins. The two girls, named Natasha and Courtney, share a heart and a liver. Tina May, the twins' mother, and her fiancé Dennis Smith, were initially offered an abortion when it was discovered that they were expecting Siamese twins, but doctors at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London believe that one of the twins could survive an operation to separate the pair. However, both twins could survive if they were not separated. SPUC has expressed its sympathy and concern for the twins and for their parents. Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "We fully support the use of the best surgical and medical skills to help the twins, but we would urge the doctors to observe the principle that they should not do harm in the hope that good may come of it. They should not end the life of one twin for the sake of the other." [BBC News online and SPUC media release , 4 February] The Irish government has announced that the referendum on abortion will be held on the sixth of next month (a Wednesday). Mr Noel Dempsey, the Irish minister for the environment, signed the order for the referendum to take place yesterday, after the high court had rejected a legal challenge to the poll by two law students in Dublin. Michael McDowell, the Irish attorney general, said that it was necessary to hold the referendum before the forthcoming general election because otherwise "a raft of pro-choice and pro-life candidates would be elected on a single issue". Fine Gael, Ireland's main opposition party, announced that it would campaign vigorously against the proposals to amend the constitution on the basis that they were "so fundamentally flawed and so uncertain as to make it impossible to predict how the Supreme Court might interpret their provisions". [Irish Times and Irish Independent , 4 February] Pope John Paul II has called for the legal recognition of human embryos. Addressing a crowd of several thousand pilgrims yesterday in St Peter's Square, Vatican City, the Pope said: "...with regard to the human embryo, science has now demonstrated that it is a human individual who possesses his own identity from conception. Therefore, it is logical to exact that this identity be legally recognised, above all in its fundamental right to life." The Pope also urged greater legal protection for all vulnerable individuals, including the mentally handicapped and the terminally ill. [Zenit, 3 February ] The leaders of Catholics and Evangelical protestants in Germany have condemned the vote in the German parliament to authorise imports of embryonic stem cells. Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the German episcopal conference, and Manfred Kock, president of the Council of German Evangelical Churches, issued a joint statement pointing out that the imported stem cells would have been extracted from embryos who had been killed as a result, and that there was a great danger to the right to life when the "total protection of man from the moment of fertilisation" was compromised. Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, said that "every means of the state of law should be used to revoke this fatal decision". [Zenit, 1 February ] The 2001 Indian census has revealed that there are now 933 females for every 1,000 males in the population. Many have blamed the alarming inbalance on illegal use of ultrasound to determine the sex of unborn children and sex-selective abortions. The census report observes that there are "20-25 million missing women in India". [The Seattle Times, 2 February ] The Roman Catholic bishops of Mexico have condemned the decision of their country's supreme court to authorise the abortion of unborn children with genetic anomalies. Bishop Abelardo Alvarado, secretary general of the Mexican bishops' conference, said that the legalisation of abortion in any circumstances constituted a "death culture that conflicts with the roots of the Mexican people". The bishop also said that the toleration of abortion would lead to a rise in other forms of violence, such as kidnappings, murders and robberies. [The News Mexico, 2 February ] It is reported that the government of China is unhappy with US President George Bush for his decision to withhold funds from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the basis that it supports China's coercive population control programme. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry rejected claims that the UNFPA supported forced abortions in China and said that the allegations were "unfavourable for international co-operation in population control". The row is threatening to cloud Mr Bush's planned visit to China later this month. [Telegraph online, 3 February ] It has been claimed that some female athletes get pregnant and have abortions to boost their performance, a procedure previously reported to have been imposed on Soviet gymnasts in the 1970s. Celeste McGovern, a columnist for Report magazine, has claimed that athletes are turning to the technique because testing for performance-enhancing drugs is now routine. Professor Poul-Erik Paulev of the university of Copenhagen, Denmark, observes in a textbook obtained by LifeSite: " some countries female athletes have become pregnant for 2-3 months in order to improve their performance just after the abortion." [LifeSite, 1 February ]

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