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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 21 March 2002

21 March 2002

21 March 2002 The Family Planning Association's legal challenge to Northern Ireland's abortion practice begins today at the High Court in Belfast. The FPA is arguing that ministers have acted illegally by failing to issue guidance on when abortions can be carried out in Northern Ireland under existing legal precedents. SPUC and other pro-life groups are intervening in the case to make the point that no such ministerial guidance is necessary because the law is quite clear. Britain's Abortion Act 1967 does not apply to Northern Ireland, and the present judicial review proceedings are seen by pro-lifers as a way of undermining legal protection for the unborn. The FPA in Northern Ireland is an affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Association (IPPF), which urges it members to use all possible means to bring about abortion on demand. The IPPF stated in 1984: "Family Planning Associations... should not use the absence of law or the existence of an unfavourable law as an excuse for inaction; action outside the law, and even in violation of it, is part of the process of stimulating change." [SPUC, 21 March] A man is suing his wife in Beijing, China, for infringing his right to father a child after she had an abortion. The case is the first to be brought under a law passed by the National People's Congress codifying China's one-child family population control policy and stipulating that women have no overriding priority over their spouses in deciding whether to have a child. [BBC, 20 March ] Figures released by China's state family planning commission have indicated that 46% of Chinese couples are using intra-uterine devices (IUDs) to avoid becoming pregnant in order to comply with the country's coercive population control policy. [BBC, 20 March ] IUDs work by preventing the successful implantation of a newly conceived child in his or her mother's womb, and thereby cause early abortions. British government figures indicate that 5% of all British women aged between 16 and 49 were fitted with an IUD in 1999. [SPUC and Office for National Statistics ] Legislators in Oklahoma have passed a bill which would facilitate legal actions by women against abortion practitioners who failed to provide them with adequate information on the physical and emotional risks of the procedure. The measure was passed by 95 votes to one in the state House. [LifeSite, 20 March ] An opinion poll commissioned by the UK's largest private abortion provider has indicated that 43% of British voters consider the issue of abortion to be "fairly important" or "very important" when deciding on which candidate to support. The poll was commissioned by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and conducted by MORI. [CNSNews, 20 March ] John Howard, the Australian prime minister, will meet the premiers of the country's six states and two territories on 5 April to decide on a national policy regarding stem cell research. It is reported that the federal government is leaning in the direction of a ban on destructive research involving embryos left over from in vitro fertilisation treatment. The campaign to prohibit such research is being spearheaded within the federal government by Kevin Andrews, the federal minister for ageing, who has strong pro-life views. [CNSNews, 20 March ]

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