News, 5 March 2002
5 March 2002
5 March 2002 A Vatican meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Life has asserted that the right to life is not negotiable. The meeting's closing statement lamented how modern culture failed to acknowledge "a universal human nature [from] which the natural moral law stems". [Zenit, 4 March ] On the eve of Ireland's abortion-referendum, pro-life activists campaigning for a "no" vote have been reported as pointing out how Catholics celebrate the immaculate conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, rather than her immaculate implantation. The proposed constitutional change would define abortion as only taking place after implantation. [BBC, 4 March ] A study has found that the provision of family planning does not reduce rates of conception or abortion among under-16s. Research by Dr David Paton of Nottingham university, England, instead concluded that: "Socio-economic variables such as children in care rates and participation rates in post-compulsory education are found to be significant predictors of underage pregnancies." [Journal of Health Economics, 1 March , and Times, 5 March ] A US paper submitted to the United Nations has described human cloning as unethical and criticises the process because it uses women's bodies as commodities. The European Union appears disunited on the matter, with Spain explicitly supporting America, Germany banning cloning and Britain legalising it. Costa Rica and Colombia have proclaimed their opposition to cloning but other Latin American countries and Muslim states have been silent so far. A member of the UN's panel has called for cloning for both research and live births. The UN talks close on Friday to resume in September. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 1 March ] A Canadian government body has authorised immediate funding for destructive human embryo research during a recess of parliament, which was considering the matter. Canadian Institutes of Health Research guidelines permit the use of embryos created during fertility-treatment. Criticism has come from pro-life activists and the Alliance party. [LifeSite, 4 March ] Women asserting that contraceptive pills gave them life-threatening blood-clots are seeking £10 million from manufacturers in an English high court action which began yesterday and should last till August. The lawyer for the group of more than 100 women asserted that the pills, which contained artificial progestogens, should have carried a health-warning. [Guardian, 5 March ] Birth control pills can cause abortion by preventing implantation. Suggestions that women in Tibet are forced into abortion and sterilisation have been contradicted by a research team of Americans and Tibetans who say they had unrestricted access to citizens. There are, however, fines for having large families, though the group's report in the Australian National University's China Journal says that these can be reduced or waived. [Guardian, 25 February ] Commenting on this report, Mr Steve Mosher of the Population Research Institute told SPUC: "Claims that forced abortion in Tibet does not occur is the result of yet another international whitewash, this time conducted by a joint US/Tibetan team with the foreknowledge of Chinese officials. The UNFPA also claims that during its Oct. 22-27 junket to China, UN officials were allowed to 'wander freely' in villages, and found no evidence of coercion. But at a [recent] Senate hearing ... two US Senators and a State Department official stated that it's virtually impossible to obtain valid testimonies from the victims of forced abortion in China in anything less than a covert operation. Hence, 'unannounced visits' to villages or 'investigations without escorts' are meaningless, if not deceptive, expressions. If a victim of forced abortion is caught telling the truth, either before or after her statement, strict punishments are enforced. Investigations by international teams or delegations with the knowledge or support of Chinese officials results in nothing less than a bilateral whitewash of crimes against humanity."