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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 23 January 2002

23 January 2002

23 January 2002 Tens of thousands of pro-lifers marched through the centre of Washington DC yesterday to mark the 29th anniversary of the Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions which established a constitutional right to abortion up to birth. In an address to the rally via telephone from West Virginia, President Bush congratulated the participants for their commitment and compassion and observed: "You're working and marching on behalf of a noble cause and affirming a culture of life." 1.3 million children are killed by abortion in the USA every year, and the toll since 1973 is now more than 40 million. [Zenit and CNS , 22 January] It is reported that the Irish cabinet has been forced to delay its decision on when to hold the proposed referendum on abortion. Ministers had been due to make the decision today, but a legal challenge to the referendum by two students in Dublin has complicated matters. The Irish Independent newspaper conjectures that the referendum will now be held in March. [Irish Independent, 23 January ] Official abortion statistics for Canada, excluding Ontario, have indicated that 3.2% fewer unborn children were killed by abortion in 1999 than in the previous year. 65,627 abortions were carried out in all Canadian provinces and territories except Ontario in 1999, a total which corresponded to a rate of 31.8 abortions per 100 live births. In 1998, the rate was 32.3 abortions per 100 live births. 52% of women who obtained abortions were in their 20s. Changes in reporting requirements in Ontario meant that complete statistics for this province were not available, but the number of abortions in Ontario usually accounts for about 40% of the Canadian total. [The Daily, Statistics Canada, 18 January ] A government sponsored bill to legalise destructive research on human embryos has passed its first reading in the French national assembly after little debate. The legislation would legalise the extraction of stem cells from embryos who are surplus to requirements following in vitro fertilisation procedures, while maintaining the French prohibition on all human cloning, both for reproductive and so-called therapeutic purposes. [Ananova, 22 January ] The extraction of stem cells from an embryo always entails his or her death. Legislators in Nebraska are considering a bill which would establish an offence of foetal homicide applying at all stages of pregnancy. During a debate on the proposed law, an amendment which would have limited the offence to the second and third trimesters was voted down. Foetal homicide laws in a number of other American states apply only after "quickening" (when a mother can feel her unborn child move) or "viability" (when the child could survive outside the womb). [Omaha World-Herald, 18 January ] Foetal homicide laws allow the killer of a pregnant woman to be charged with causing two deaths, but do not prohibit abortion which has been a constitutional right since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. A nurse who claims that she was sacked by a hospital in Illinois for revealing that babies who survived abortions were being left to die without any medical attention is hoping to be elected to the district legislative council. Mrs Jill Stanek's campaign against live-birth abortions led to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2001 which has passed both houses of the US congress but is currently tied up in a committee. [Washington Times, 17 January ]

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