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News, 9 July 2002

9 July 2002

9 July 2002 The Scottish Executive has confirmed that it does not intend to follow the lead of the Department of Health in England and Wales in allowing family planning centres to offer the RU-486 abortion drug. The decision of the Executive, which exercises devolved governmental powers in Scotland, was welcomed by the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the protestant Church of Scotland. However, Scottish women have easier access to free abortions on the National Health Service than women in England, and use of RU-486 is already a common form of abortion in Scotland. Ian Murray, head of SPUC Scotland, pointed out that RU-486 was already being provided at two family planning centres in Scotland, albeit on hospital premises. [The Glasgow Herald, 8 July ; SPUC] The government of Norway has introduced legislation to prohibit research into so-called therapeutic cloning and maintain the country's ban on all destructive embryonic research. The measure would explicitly prohibit research on stem cell lines isolated and cultured from human embryos. In a statement, the Norwegian government expressed its strong support for adult stem cell technology because this "does not raise the same ethical concerns as research on embryonic stem cells". [LifeSite, 8 July ] The Roman Catholic bishops of Malta have expressed "profound distress" over last week's vote in the European parliament to adopt the pro-abortion Van Lancker report. In a statement, Archbishop Joseph Mercieca of Malta and two other prelates condemned abortion as evil and described the European parliament's attempt to influence the policies of states "in an area that is not of its competence" as "deplorable and improper". [Zenit, 8 July ] The Van Lancker report recommends the legalisation of abortion in all European Union member states and candidate countries, including Malta. An Australian pro-euthanasia group has announced plans to provide its members with plastic bags for committing suicide. Dr Philip Nitschke, founder of the pro-euthanasia group Exit, explained that the "Exit bag" had a collar which could be tightened to deprive the wearer of oxygen. He said that the design of the bag was an improvement on a version previously imported from Canada before the Canadian manufacturer was arrested. 500 of the bags will be made in the first run, and Exit members will attend workshops on how to use them properly. [Ananova, 9 July ] A British national newspaper with a consistently pro-abortion editorial policy has described the government's plans to increase access to the RU-486 abortion drug in England and Wales as "probably the best news for abortion reform since the 1967 [Abortion] act was steered through parliament by David Steel". The leader in the Guardian newspaper argues that government ministers are right to ignore the "hysterical tabloids" which have expressed outrage at the plan. The headline describes RU-486 as "humane abortion". [The Guardian, 9 July ]

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