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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 July 2002

5 July 2002

5 July 2002 The British Medical Association yesterday rejected calls to reconsider its policy against assisted suicide. Participants at the BMA's annual conference rejected any change in the law on assisted suicide following the case of Dianne Pretty, whose request for a right to assisted suicide was turned down by the English courts and the European Court of Human Rights. Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of the BMA's board of science, said: "We expressed sympathy for people with motor-neurone disease who want to end their life, but we are concerned about the implications... we hope the courts will continue to treat people who help their loved ones sympathetically." [The Western Mail, 5 July ] Politicians in Poland have reacted angrily to the vote in the European parliament to adopt the pro-abortion Van Lancker report. The report recommends the legalisation of abortion in countries such as Poland and Malta which have pro-life laws and are applying to join the European Union. The Polish parliament's European affairs committee rejected the report's pro-abortion pressure on EU candidate countries. [BBC News online, 4 July ] The British government has published its response to the pro-cloning conclusions of the House of Lords select committee on stem cell research. The select committee was set up after the House of Lords voted to authorise the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos for research last year. The government accepts almost everything the committee said, except that it declines to compile a list of what constitutes "serious disease" under the 2001 regulations. Mr Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, observed: "The government's response is merely the latest of several window-dressing exercises designed to give the appearance of proper parliamentary scrutiny, when in fact the whole parliamentary debate on cloning has been manipulated by the government from the start." German pro-lifers have criticised the conservative candidate for chancellor in this year's general election for appointing a strong supporter of embryo research as his head of policy for the family, youth and women. Mr Edmund Stoiber, who will lead a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union into the general election in September, has appointed 28-year-old Miss Katherina Reiche to the position, despite her anti-life views. [BBC News online, 4 July ] New York City's public hospital system this week officially launched its new policy of requiring all obstetrics and gynaecology doctors who have completed their education in public hospitals to undergo training in how to perform abortions. The controversial initiative is in response to a decline in the number of abortion practitioners in the US. The pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that the number of abortionists fell by a third between 1982 and 1996, and that nearly half of those remaining are due to retire within the next 10 years. [Chicago Tribune, 4 July ] Doctors at a maternity hospital in Southampton, England, have "warned" that plans to introduce a national pre-natal screening programme to detect unborn children with Down's syndrome will "fail mothers" because serum tests are not as reliable as had previously been thought. A spokesman for the department of health said that the warning, published in the British Medical Journal, would be considered before a decision on the national programme was made in 2004, and added that any studies leading to improved ways of detecting Down's syndrome in unborn children would be welcomed. [BBC News online, 4 July ] The vast majority of unborn children found to have Down's syndrome are aborted. A spokesman for SPUC condemned the eugenic mentality behind this 'warning' and the government's reaction to it. He added: "A classic demonstration of this appalling eugenic mentality is provided by the BBC online report, which features a photograph of a smiling and happy Down's syndrome child, who has just as much inherent value and humanity as anyone else. Underneath the photograph, the caption notes that 'screening for Down's syndrome is not infallible', clearly making the point that the very life of the child in the photograph is a mistake and proof of the fallibility of screening."

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