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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 June 2002

12 June 2002

12 June 2002 A British woman who had an abortion four years ago is suing the National Health Service (NHS) for failing to warn her of the distress she would later experience. The woman, who is from the north of England but wishes to remain anonymous, suffered a serious breakdown when she gave birth to a son three years later and realised what she had lost by having the abortion. The woman, who used to work for the NHS, said that she was never made aware of the possibility of an adverse psychological reaction, even though patients are routinely warned of the possible side-effects of other surgical procedures so that they can give their informed consent. The legal action, which is still at the very early stages, would be the first such case to come before a British court. Nuala Scarisbrick of the Life charity praised the woman's courage and claimed that women were deliberately not being told the whole truth about abortion, including the possible link between the procedure and breast cancer. [BBC News online, 12 June ] Five member states of the European Union have issued a declaration asking for the inclusion of ethical guidelines in the sixth framework programme setting out the EU's research budget for the next four years. The statement by Germany, Ireland, Italy, Austria and Portugal asks that the guidelines should cover in particular "the protection of human dignity and human life in genomics and biotechnology research". Luxembourg issued a separate statement to the same effect. At present the sixth framework programme allows EU money to be spent on research involving the destruction of human embryos, but the EU council of ministers will meet on 18 June to discuss the matter further. France and Spain are two countries which have yet to declare their position, although the UK is known to be pushing for destructive research to be included in the programme. [Euro-Fam and SPUC, 12 June] A total of 16,400 unborn children were killed in registered abortions in New Zealand last year, 300 or 1.9% more than in 2000. The figures, released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand, also indicate that a growing proportion of abortions are performed on women who have had a previous abortion. One in three Asian women who became pregnant had an abortion, compared to a national average of one in five. The overall abortion rate for New Zealand in 2001 was 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, compared to 17 per 1,000 in Britain. [New Zealand Herald, 12 June ; digest for 24 May ] US President George W Bush has reaffirmed his pro-life views in an address to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Speaking via satellite to the annual meeting of the SBC in St Louis yesterday, President Bush said: "We believe in fostering a culture of life... We believe that a life is a creation, not a commodity, and that our children are gifts to be loved and protected, not products to be designed and manufactured by human cloning." The US Senate is expected to begin debating whether to ban human cloning on Friday. [SBC, 11 June ; Pro-Life Infonet , 12 June] Doctors in Texas have removed a benign tumour from the neck of a child who was only partially born. A team of 24 doctors and nurses at the Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth removed the tumour once the child's head and neck were exposed but while she was still connected to the umbilical cord. After nearly four weeks in intensive care, the girl, named Guadalupe, is now ready to go home. [CBS, 10 June ] This operation contrasts starkly with the practice of partial-birth abortions in the US. President Bill Clinton twice vetoed federal laws to ban partial birth abortions, and a ban on the procedure passed in Nebraska was struck down by the US Supreme Court in June 2000 as unconstitutional.

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