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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 June 2002

25 June 2002

25 June 2002 The Roman Catholic Church in Uruguay has condemned draft legislation on artificial insemination currently before the country's parliament. Archbishop Nicolás Cotugno of Montevideo said that the legislation was morally unacceptable, while Fr Oma Franca-Tarrago, director of the Institute of Ethics and Bioethics of the Catholic University of Uruguay, warned that the measure would have "enormous ethical consequences". The law would give IVF clinics the right of ownership over human embryos and allow them to charge for donating embryos to couples. Embryo experimentation would be prohibited but not considered a crime. Fr Franca-Tarrango criticised the use of the term "pre-embryo" in the legislation, which he said was intended to "conceal the fact that it is a question of an already conceived and ... unrepeatable human embryo, whose development is exactly like that of any other human being". [Zenit, 24 June ] A provincial health department in South Africa failed in a legal bid on Sunday to prevent the broadcast of a documentary detailing alleged abuses at an abortion facility. The high court in Pretoria dismissed the application by the Mpumalanga health department, saying that the programme was in the public interest. The film claimed that women admitted to the Philadelphia hospital for abortions outside Groblersdal had to pull foetuses out of their own bodies, place them into plastic bags and throw them away themselves because staff refused to help them. The South African health department has launched an investigation into the claims. [News24, 24 June ] A spokesman for the US Catholic bishops has described last week's vote in the US Senate to allow privately funded abortions in overseas military facilities [see yesterday's digest ] as an "outrage". Cathleen A Cleaver, director of planning and information for the bishops' secretariat for pro-life activities, said: "Abortion is not health care. It destroys the life of a child and represents an utter failure to address the real needs of women. We urge House-Senate conferees to reverse this policy before final passage." [PR Newswire, 21 June ] The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted to affirm an "unrestricted right" to abortion until an unborn child could survive outside the womb [about 24 weeks into pregnancy]. Delegates at the meeting also supported the right of women to choose late-term abortions, but suggested that these would only be advisable when there was a threat to the life or health of the mother, when the pregnancy had resulted from rape or incest, or in cases of "foetal suffering". The denomination will continue to fund late-term abortions under its medical benefits plan. [LifeSite, 24 June ]

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