News, 11 July 2002
11 July 2002
11 July 2002 A UK parliamentary committee was told yesterday that the "huge abortion need" in Britain should be addressed by relaxing the legal restrictions on abortion. The House of Commons health select committee was taking evidence on the effectiveness of the government's sexual health strategy, which includes easier access to the RU-486 abortion drug. Liz Davies, head of abortion provider Marie Stopes International, said that the requirement for two doctors to sign an abortion certificate should be abolished and that less-qualified health providers, such as nurses, should be allowed to perform abortions. This call was supported by Ann Weyman, chief executive of the pro-abortion Family Planning Association, who also argued that sex education should start in primary school. [SPUC, 11 July] A motion on abortion that was due for debate at this week's session of the Church of England's general synod in York has been timed out. The motion expressed "grave concern" at the fact that 500 abortions are performed under the terms of the Abortion Act in England every day, and called on the government "to bring in urgent legislation to restrict the abuses of the Abortion Act". The motion was second in the ballot of private member's motions but could not be debated due to lack of time. It may now be debated at the general synod's next session in November. The Church of England's official policy on abortion is equivocal: it opposes abortion generally but recognises a limited number of circumstances in which abortion "may be morally preferable to any available alternative". [SPUC, 11 July; Church of England website ] Spanish pro-lifers have marched through the streets of Madrid to mark the 17th anniversary of the legalisation of abortion. The March for Life last Saturday had the motto: "Protect every life for life". Spain's 1985 law legalised abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape, foetal abnormality and risk to the mother's life or health. In September 1998, after a strong pro-life stand was taken by the country's Catholic bishops, the Spanish parliament rejected by just one vote a proposal to relax the law to permit abortions for personal and economic reasons. [VHI, 10 July; via Pro-Life Infonet ; SPUC and other sources] A Catholic women's organisation in India has criticised suggestions that the government should establish a two-child family policy to counteract the prevalence of sex-selective abortion. The selective abortion of girls remains common in India, despite the fact that it is prohibited by law. In some parts of the country, there are now only 800 girls born alive for every 1,000 boys. The Women's Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India stated that a two-child family policy would be "absolutely contradictory, for it is precisely the two-children norm, coupled with the preference for the male child, that is responsible for the killing of the female foetus or child". [EWTN News, 9 July ] The Catholic Church has praised members of the US House of Representatives for conducting a hearing on new legislation to ban partial-birth abortions. Cathleen A Cleaver, spokesman for the US bishops' secretariat for pro-life activities, said that the hearing confirmed "the truth about partial-birth abortion: there is never any medical reason to turn to this barbarous procedure". [PR Newswire, 10 July ] Doctors in Australia believe that cells from inside the nose could be used to treat paralysis. Olfactory ensheathing cells connect the nose to the brain and regenerate throughout a person's life. A team led by Dr Alan Mackay-Sim of Griffith University in Brisbane hopes that, when these cells are injected into a paralysed patient's spine, they will provide a bridge enabling spinal nerves to grow. [BBC News online, 10 July ] This development represents another potential alternative to the use of embryonic stem cell technology and so-called therapeutic cloning for repairing damaged nerve tissue.