News, 14 March 2002
14 March 2002
14 March 2002 The Court of Appeal in London ruled this morning that the BBC and other British television broadcasters were wrong to refuse to screen an election broadcast prepared by the Pro-Life Alliance, a British pro-life political party, which featured graphic depictions of abortions. The High Court had ruled in favour of the broadcasters, who refused to screen the film before the 1997 and 2001 UK general elections on the grounds that it was "grossly offensive". However, three Court of Appeal judges said today that this was a clear case of censorship. Lord Justice Brown, one of the judges, observed: "Here the image is the message--I can see no answer to the claim that the appellant is entitled to show--not just tell--what happens. Words alone cannot convey the essential human character of the foetus and the nature of its destruction by abortion." Mr Bruno Quintavalle, leader of the Pro-Life Alliance, said: "This judgement signals the beginning of the end of legal abortion in the UK. Once our country sees the truth, they will know that abortion even in the earliest stages is an act of terrible violence which kills a human being." [BBC, 14 March ] The secretary of state for Northern Ireland has confirmed that the British government has no plans to liberalise abortion law in Northern Ireland. Dr John Reid gave the undertaking in a letter to Mr Nigel Dodds, Northern Ireland's minister for social development and a member of both the Northern Ireland assembly and the UK parliament. Mr Dodds, who belongs to the Democratic Unionist Party, had written to Dr Reid telling him that the overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland were opposed to the extension of Britain's Abortion Act and that any attempt to water down protection for unborn human life in Northern Ireland would be vigorously opposed by both Catholics and Protestants. Mr Dodds, who helped to launch A Way of Life, SPUC's new publication, in Belfast last week, also warned that the Family Planning Association's legal challenge to Northern Ireland's abortion practice, which starts today-week, was an attempt to change Northern Ireland's pro-life law. [Irish Independent and SPUC, 14 March] Tesco, a British supermarket chain, is providing teenagers with abortifacient morning-after pills free of charge. The Tesco stores in Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon, Somerset, are dispensing the drug in their pharmacies as part of a scheme co-ordinated by the North Somerset primary care group. A spokesman for Tesco said that the scheme could be extended to other Tesco stores if it proved successful. [Bristol Evening Post, 12 March ] There is no evidence that easier availability of the morning-after pill cuts either the number of teenage pregnancies or the surgical abortion rate. The Catholic bishops of Ireland have defended their decision to support the government's defeated abortion referendum proposals. A statement issued by the bishops read: "We vigorously refute the analysis of our statement of December 12 [supporting the proposals] implying that the bishops of Ireland have somehow compromised Church teaching on the sacredness of human life in the interests of political expediency." The bishops also insisted that "human life is sacred from the moment of conception". [Irish Independent, 14 March ] The European parliament yesterday approved a controversial report on women and fundamentalism by two votes. The report was passed by 242 votes to 240, with 42 abstentions, after some controversial clauses such as the "right to control one's own body"--which was seen as a justification of abortion--were omitted. [Zenit, 13 March ] Young Scottish Catholics have launched an organisation called Living Scotland to foster understanding of moral and social issues grounded on respect for human dignity and the right to life, in accordance with the teaching of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, his 1995 encyclical. The group's first conference, which was held in Edinburgh at the start of this month, was addressed by prominent Catholic pro-lifers from Scotland and further afield on topics including the basis of human rights and the importance of chastity for a "culture of life". Miss Weronika Hansen, founder of Living Scotland, said that it was more important than ever that Catholics celebrated and promoted the pro-life teaching of their Church because the erosion of respect for human life was one of the fundamental issues of our time. [SPUC, 14 March] Two of the largest Orthodox Jewish groups in the United States have announced their support for destructive research on cloned human embryos. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical Council of America have issued a joint statement which reads: "We must be careful to distinguish between cloning for therapeutic purposes--which ought to be pursued--and cloning for reproductive purposes--which we oppose." [Reuters and Washington Post, 13 March; via Pro-Life Infonet ] All human cloning is reproductive because an individual human person is brought into being in every case.