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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 13 May 2002

13 May 2002

13 May 2002 Pro-abortion language has been omitted from the document agreed in the early hours of Saturday by the United Nations general assembly's special session on children. Costa Rica, El Salvador, the Holy See, Honduras and the United States added wording which emphasised that no part of A World Fit for Children should be construed as supporting abortion or abortifacient birth control, and Nicaragua asserted the right to life from conception till natural death. Peter Smith, SPUC's chief administrative officer at the UN, and Dominic Baster, SPUC's international secretary, described the result as a sweeping victory for the pro-life and pro-family cause. Mr Smith praised the tens of thousands of people who had prayed for a good outcome, as well as courageous negotiating by the US, the Holy See and other pro-life delegations. [SPUC] Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told the session that recognition of human dignity from the moment of conception needed to be recovered. Overpopulation was a myth and population policies were being imposed which denied families and children their rights. [EWTN, 10 May ] Pro-life advocates at the UN summit on children suffered criticism and false accusations. A document by the Canadian delegation suggested that pro-life groups were naive, had worthless views and held "limited positions". [LifeSite, 12 May ] Pro-life participants were excluded from late-night negotiations at the German mission after accusations that they had assaulted guards, though the German ambassador later conceded that there had been no assault. The New York Times accused the American delegation of delaying negotiations though the US said it was working in good faith for a document which would protect children. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 10 May ] Smear campaigns have previously been mounted against pro-life activists, whom a new BBC drama serial is expected to portray as violent. In March senior judges accused the BBC of censorship after it banned an electoral broadcast which showed aborted infants. SPUC said: "In common with all recognised pro-life organisations, we condemn violence whether against unborn children or others." Mrs Dianne Pretty, who was last month refused assisted suicide by the European court, died in a hospice in southern England on Saturday afternoon. Alert, the anti-euthanasia group, expressed its sadness but noted that, contrary to earlier claims, Mrs Pretty had received palliative care. The Disability Awareness in Action group said that the hospice would have been able to relieve her suffering considerably and that, if Mrs Pretty had been granted her request, it would have been a "slippery slope" which would have affected people who did not want to die. The Medical Ethics Alliance pointed out how availability of euthanasia in the Netherlands had led to doctors' suggesting it to patients who were still some way off dying. [BBC, 12 May ] An initiative in the USA is trying to help the elderly get the pain-relief they need. The American Geriatrics Society has published pamphlets and guidelines which help people describe their own pain and assist others in doing so. Professor Keela Herr of Iowa university, an author of the materials, urged patients to be more assertive in asking for pain-relief and, if they felt their doctor was failing to treat their pain, to ask to be referred to a specialist in palliative care. Dr Bruce Ferrell of California university, a co-author, said that opioids were under-prescribed among the elderly. [CNN, 9 May ] Officials in China are concerned that 117 boys are born there for every 100 girls, probably because of sex-selective abortion. The Population and Development Review has claimed that rural Chinese women use ultrasonic scans to determine their children's gender and a survey found that more than a third of abortions in one village were sex-selective. Rural Chinese traditionally favour male children, who can also earn more in the new economy than females. [Guardian, 13 May ] Children whose mothers take antibiotics during pregnancy have a 43% greater risk of being asthmatic, according to research by Nottingham university, England, to be presented at a conference in Georgia, USA, next week. Antibiotics also increase the risk of hay fever and eczema. [Independent, 12 May ] Mercury in marlin, shark and swordfish could cause neurological damage in unborn children if their mothers eat such fish, according to the UK's Food Standards Agency. The agency is also urgently seeking advice from scientists about a possible similar problem with tuna. [Times, 11 May ] A professional singer has used her voice to alleviate labour pains. Mrs Barbara Fernandez of Cambridge, England, took just a little gas and air during her daughter's birth and otherwise managed the pain by making sounds which she described as primitive. [BBC, 12 May ]

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