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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 10 June 2002

10 June 2002

10 June 2002 Pro-lifers in Northern Ireland have expressed concern that a conference centre run by a Catholic religious order hosted a pro-abortion meeting over the weekend. Mrs Betty Gibson, chairman of SPUC Northern Ireland, has written to Fr Patrick Ryall OSM, prior provincial of the Servite order in Britain and Ireland, to stress her disappointment with the decision of Benburb Priory to host the Women's Information Group conference. A workshop at the conference was led by Georgie McCormack of the pro-abortion Family Planning Association (FPA), and Audrey Simpson, director of FPA Northern Ireland, was also present at the conference. Mrs Gibson wrote: "The fact that a representative of a notoriously pro-abortion, anti-Catholic organisation was allowed to lead a workshop on Catholic premises, even as her organisation fought the Catholic Church in the courts, is intolerable." [SPUC, 10 June ; also see news digest for 5 June ] Dana Rosemary Scallon, an Irish pro-life member of the European parliament, has claimed that the European Union is putting pressure on the Irish government to support funding for embryo research. Dana said that people at the highest level in the government of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had been pushed to accept EU funding for such research, despite the fact that it is prohibited by the Irish constitution. Dana observed that it was against EU law to fund research which was illegal in any member state, and she urged the Irish government to take any opportunity in the coming weeks to block EU funding of embryonic research. [online.ie, 6 June ] A US federal judge has ruled that military health insurance must cover abortion in cases of anencephaly (when a baby develops without a brain). At present, military health insurance schemes are prevented by law from covering abortion except when there is a direct threat to the mother's life. District Judge Nancy Gertnet, sitting in Boston, criticised the application of this rule in the case of Maureen Britell who had an abortion in 1994 after discovering that her child had no brain or cranium but was denied insurance coverage. Judge Gertnet said that forcing Mrs Britell to keep her child would have caused "unimaginable emotional pain" and described the decision to deny her funding as "irrational" and "cruel". It is expected that the Bush administration will appeal the judgement. [Women's E-News, 6 June ] The Roman Catholic bishops of Switzerland have condemned euthanasia as "murder on demand". A document on care for terminally ill patients published by the Swiss episcopal conference last Thursday distinguished between "direct active euthanasia", which is never licit, and acceptable practices such as the "interruption of disproportionate medical procedures" and the provision of painkillers to alleviate suffering which may shorten life "as something inevitable" rather than as an intention. [Zenit, 7 June ]

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