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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 June 2002

5 June 2002

5 June 2002 SPUC in Northern Ireland has discovered that a conference centre run by the Servites, a Catholic religious order, plans to host a pro-abortion meeting next weekend. The Benburb Conference Centre, which is in the grounds of Benburb Servite priory, is the venue for the annual residential conference of the Women's Information Group. One of workshops will be led by Georgie McCormack of the Family Planning Association. In response to enquiries from SPUC, Fr Raymond O'Connell OSM, manager of the conference centre, defended his decision to host the meeting by claiming that the centre was a "neutral venue". Betty Gibson, chairman of SPUC Northern Ireland, commented: "The fact that this conference is being held at Benburb Priory gives a veneer of Church approval which could be very detrimental to the pro-life cause, especially as it comes at a critical time when the Catholic bishops are opposing the FPA in Northern Ireland's courts. I would be astounded if the Church authorities allowed this conference to go ahead." [SPUC, 5 June ] The people of Switzerland have voted in favour of legalising abortion by a margin of nearly three to one. In the two questions put to the Swiss electorate last Sunday, 72% of voters backed the legalisation of abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, while 82% rejected a pro-life proposal to toughen the abortion law. The new law will come into effect at the beginning of October. The Swiss Catholic bishops condemned the result and declared that abortion was morally unacceptable and fundamentally contrary to God's commandments. They committed the Church to continue its campaign to promote and protect the value of human life. [BBC News online, 2 June ; Zenit, 3 June ] India's cabinet voted last Friday to ban all ultrasound tests on women under the age of 35 in an attempt to prevent the widespread sex-selective abortion of unborn girls. In order for the ban to take effect, it must be signed by the president and then ratified by both houses of the Indian parliament. Dr SCL Gupta, president of the Delhi Medical Association, criticised the vote on the basis that the use of ultrasound tests had become a common procedure to diagnose a wide variety of ailments in pregnant women. [BBC News online, 4 June ] Pro-lifers in the United States have criticised the Department of Defense for allowing the abortifacient morning-after pill to be made available at some military clinics. A spokesman for the Pentagon said that, while the Plan B morning-after pill was not on the list of mandated drugs which all military medical facilities had to stock, it could be made available if an individual pharmacy so decided. However, US military establishments are banned from providing abortions and pro-lifers insist that the ban should include early chemical abortions. Robert Maginnis, vice president of the Family Research Council and a retired army colonel, said of the morning-after pill: "As far as we're concerned it causes an abortion to take place. It kills a human embryo." [CNSNews, 3 June; via NewsMax ] A report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry has suggested that unborn children whose mothers suffer from high anxiety during pregnancy may develop behavioural and emotional problems in later life as a result. A study of 7,450 pregnant women conducted by researchers from the UK's Institute of Psychiatry and the universities of London, Bristol and Plymouth found that those who felt most anxious 18 or 32 weeks into pregnancy were two or three times more likely to have children with problems including hyperactivity and inattentiveness. [The Guardian, 1 June ]

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