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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 March 2002

4 March 2002

4 March 2002 SPUC has urged Irish bishops and other pro-life people to re-consider their support for the government's proposed constitutional change, after a Dublin maternity hospital said it would destroy frozen human embryos if there was a 'yes' vote in Wednesday's referendum. Yesterday's Sunday Tribune reported that the Rotunda hospital, Dublin, would dispose of embryos created through in vitro fertilisation next year. The constitutional amendment would define abortion as taking place only after an embryo had implanted in the womb. Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "If proof were still needed that this proposed constitutional change would deny the right to life, then here it is. Those who have hitherto felt that the amendment would somehow help the unborn must now reconsider their position. Human life at its most vulnerable will lose its legal protection if this change is made. The pro-life way to vote on Wednesday is to vote 'no'." The Ireland for Life organisation has said that it is appalled at the Rotunda's statement and has drawn attention to a declaration by the heads of three maternity hospitals that abortion should be allowed in some circumstances. Pro-life lawyers in Britain have also sounded a warning note. In its current newsletter, the Association of Lawyers for the Defence of the Unborn says that voters should beware of "siren voices" offering to clarify or strengthen abortion-law. The newsletter describes the proposed definition of abortion as "bogus and false" and hardly a sound foundation on which to protect the unborn. SPUC has highlighted how Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told a November meeting in Rome that, while the situation in Ireland was delicate, he expected the bishops to come out against the proposed constitutional change. SPUC has since received a letter from Cardinal López's secretary indicating that the cardinal had nothing to add, from which SPUC infers that the cardinal still opposes the change despite pressure on him from the 'yes' campaign. SPUC is not aware of a personal statement by the Pope on this matter. Dr Patrick McCrystal, executive director of Human Life International for Ireland, has said that he cannot vote 'yes' and that a 'yes' vote would be for direct intentional abortion. [SPUC media-releases, 2 and 4 March, News and Comment, ALDU, winter 2001-2, and HLI Ireland press release, 1 March] A British pro-life group has challenged the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to confirm that research which it recently licensed cannot alternatively be performed on animal embryos or adult human stem cells. A ProLife Alliance press release points put that dozens of laboratories are already conducting clinical trials of treatments based on adult cells for diseases such as Parkinson's. [ProLife Alliance, 4 March , and SPUC, 26 February ]

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