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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 January 2002

17 January 2002

17 January 2002 Two students in the Republic of Ireland are seeking to challenge the proposed constitutional amendment on abortion in the Irish High Court. Ms Johanna Morris, a law student, and Ms Sian Ní Mhaoldomhaigh, a postgraduate politics student, both at Trinity College Dublin, are seeking a judicial review of the referendum proposal. The students contend that, before the proposed amendment on abortion could be passed, article 46 of the constitution would also have to be changed. The article states that any variation or addition to the constitution should be included in the text of the constitution itself, but the proposed amendment on abortion refers to a separate Act of the Irish parliament which purports to possess constitutionally entrenched status. Mr Justice Finnegan, president of the Irish High Court, has adjourned proceedings until next Monday to give time for the state to be represented. [The Irish Times, 17 January ] The French government is sponsoring a bill to authorise destructive medical research on human embryos. Lawmakers began debating legislation on Tuesday which would allow scientists to extract stem cells from frozen embryos left over after in vitro fertilisation treatment, while maintaining the ban on all human cloning, both for so-called therapeutic and reproductive purposes. A final vote on the legislation is not expected for several months. [AP, 16 January; via Northern Light ] US President George Bush yesterday appointed several active pro-lifers to his bioethics advisory panel which will consider issues such as cloning, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia and in vitro fertilisation. A White House spokesman explained: "With their assistance and guidance, the president will continue to forge a policy on bioethical issues that reflects his strong support of science and technology, as well as his deep respect for human life and human dignity." [AP and Reuters, 16 January; via Pro-Life Infonet ] Pro-lifers have rejected suggestions that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment provides a better way of becoming pregnant than the natural method of procreation. The BBC has reported that "couples at the best performing IVF clinics across the world have a higher chance of becoming pregnant during one cycle than those leaving it up to nature". [BBC News online, 16 January ] However, Dominic Baster of SPUC commented: "Human beings created by IVF are exposed to a disproportionate risk of death, and this is one of the reasons why the technique is wholly unacceptable. Most IVF babies who are placed inside a woman die before implantation or birth, but an even greater proportion are not even given this small chance of life. The majority of IVF babies die either in the petrie dish, or during the freezing and thawing procedures if they are stored, or in the course of destructive experimentation. Such wanton disregard for the dignity of human life is scandalous." A pregnant British celebrity has revealed that she pulled out of an abortion minutes before the procedure was due to go ahead. Jordan, a 23-year-old model, revealed that she was in the car park of the abortion facility when she thought: "I can't. It's not the baby's fault." [The Sun, 17 January ] The legalisation of abortion in South Africa [in February 1997] has led to a shortage of babies for adoption. Young unmarried women who become pregnant are now opting for abortion rather than offering their babies for adoption, according to Bev Edwards and her husband, whose newly-founded Surro-Moms-SA organisation aims to match surrogate mothers with couples who cannot conceive children naturally or by conventional IVF. Mrs Edwards said: "Adoption has become virtually out of the question since abortion was legalised. Desperate couples call me up to twice weekly in the hopes of being introduced to surrogate mothers, however, I already have eight people on my waiting list." [News24, 16 January ] The family of a woman who bled to death during the abortion of her unborn child has been awarded more than $2.2 million in damages by a court in the USA. Gracealynn T Harris, aged 19, died during the abortion at the Delaware Women's Health Organization clinic in September 1997. A jury found that the abortionist was 40% responsible for her death and that the clinic was 60% responsible. [The News Journal, Delaware, 16 January ]

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