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News, 6 June 2002

6 June 2002

6 June 2002 SPUC has added its support to a letter from 19 other pro-life and pro-family organisations which urges US President Bush to cut funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because of its involvement with forced abortion and sterilisation in China. The letter, dated the 21st of last month, expresses concern that, when a US State Department delegation visits China, the authorities will be given enough notice of its intended movements to be able to arrange for it to meet only citizens who will deny that coercion is used in UNFPA-funded programmes. Mr Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, said: "Repeatedly we have seen how parliamentary delegations from one country or another have been manipulated by Chinese authorities so that the forced abortion practices which are so well-documented have been completely hidden from their view." [SPUC, 6 June ] Researchers in Florida claim to have taken adult liver stem cells from rats and successfully converted them into insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Researchers led by Dr Lijun Yang at the University of Florida hope that the advance may make it possible to treat diabetes using a patient's own adult stem cells. Dr Yang held out the prospect of further advances by observing: "We are just in beginning of our learning curve in adult stem cell biology." [Reuters Health, 4 June; via Yahoo! News ] Adult stem cell technology is a promising and ethical alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells and to so-called therapeutic cloning. Legislation to amend abortion law in Canberra has been tabled in the legislature of the Australian Capital Territory. A measure to decriminalise abortion has been tabled by Wayne Berry, the speaker, but his bill is expected to be debated in August at the same time as another bill proposed by Vicki Dunne, a Liberal party member, aimed at reforming abortion law without decriminalising it. Mrs Dunne's legislation would reduce the current 10-year prison term for women who procure their own miscarriage while retaining the 10-year prison term for doctors who procure abortions. It would also oblige all women who request an abortion to receive independent counselling, and introduce a penalty of 10 years' imprisonment for coercing a woman into having an abortion. [The Canberra Times, 6 June ] A terminally ill man in England has given up a hunger strike which he had started as part of a campaign to win the right to die. 37-year-old Phil Such, who has motor neurone disease, went without food for three weeks and had not drunk for four days in order to publicise his belief in the right to euthanasia. At the end of his strike, Mr Such claimed that it was only the minority who were preventing the majority from being able to choose the manner of their death. [London Evening Standard, 5 June] A couple in Maryland are demanding that their health insurance company pay for an abortion which they claim was therapeutically necessary. Andrea and Thomas Klercke were told in February that their unborn child had anencephaly, a rare condition in which the brain fails to develop. Doctors told the couple that the child had no chance of survival and the child was aborted. The couple are now appealing against their insurance company's decision not to pay the $5,000 bill on the basis that the abortion was elective rather than "therapeutic". [Frederick News-Post, 3 June; via Pro-Life Infonet ] Direct abortion--i.e. an act which seeks the death of an unborn child as a specific outcome rather than as a side-effect--is never therapeutically necessary or justified. Babies with anencephaly can live for hours, days or even longer after being born. An Australian expert in post-abortion trauma has criticised the strongly pro-abortion article by Julie Burchill which was published last month in Britain's Guardian newspaper [see news digest for 27 May ]. Melinda T Reist, author of Giving Sorrow Words: Women's stories of grief after abortion, observes that many women are devastated after an abortion, and some attempt suicide, abuse drugs, develop eating disorders, suffer anxiety attacks and depression or cry uncontrollably. She writes: "For women whose lives are overshadowed by lasting emotional shock, the right to choose turned out to be the right not to know. But their grief remains unrelieved--thanks to the contemptuous attitudes of Burchill and others who want to keep such women in their place." [Melinda T Reist, 6 June]

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