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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 19 March 2002

19 March 2002

19 March 2002 The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, will hear Mrs Dianne Pretty's request for assisted suicide today. Mrs Pretty's lawyers are arguing that the refusal of the English director of public prosecutions to grant her husband immunity from criminal prosecution if he helps her to die infringes five articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court's decision is not expected for at least two weeks. [BBC, 19 March ] A British charity has warned that recreational drug use and exposure to chemicals which mimic the effects of oestrogen could be leading to higher levels of certain so-called birth defects. The Birth Defects Foundation cited British government figures indicating that incidence of cleft lip or palate rose from 5.9 cases per 1,000 births in 1995 to 9.2 in 1999. Cleft lips and palates have been cited as grounds for abortion up to birth in Britain. 1,833 children were killed by abortion in Britain in 2000 on the grounds that they had "physical or mental abnormalities". [Daily Telegraph, 19 March; Office for National Statistics; SPUC] Britain reportedly has the second highest abortion rate in the European Union. A Council of Europe report suggests that Britain had 15.7 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age per year. Sweden had the highest annual rate of 18.3 and Denmark the third highest (15.5). [Irish Times, 19 March ] The report suggests that Ireland's rate of 7.8 (all performed in Britain) was higher than the Netherlands', but Dutch abortion statistics ignore the widespread abortive practice known as menstrual extraction. [SPUC] It is reported that the new government of Portugal opposes the introduction of permissive abortion legislation. The centre-right Social Democrats emerged as the largest party, displacing the ruling Socialists, following last Sunday's Portuguese elections. They will now attempt to form a coalition with another right-wing party. Britain's Guardian newspaper [betraying a pro-abortion bias] reports: "Any hope of reform of the draconian [pro-life] abortion laws was dashed by the result." [The Guardian, 19 March ] Last year's Indian supreme court order that state governments should "seal and seize" all unregistered ultrasound machines may be failing to stop widespread sex-selective abortion of girls. In Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, it is reported that the number of ultrasound machines rose from five to 45 over the past 10 years, and that there was a corresponding fall in the cost of an abortion from 1,200 rupees ($25) to 200 rupees ($4). Only about 10 machines are now licensed in the district, but several clinics are thought to be continuing to function illegally. [NDTV News, 17 March ] The Roman Catholic archbishop of New Orleans, Louisiana, has criticised a decision by the Loyola Catholic university in the city to let the president of the pro-abortion National Organization for Women (NOW) speak on its premises. Archbishop Alfred Hughes said that NOW was an organisation "that advocates an extremist pro-abortion agenda" and that Ms Kim Gandy's pro-abortion views were "contrary to the clear and unambiguous teachings of the Catholic Church". [AP, 15 March; via Northern Light ]

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