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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 May 2002

20 May 2002

20 May 2002 The decision by Belgium's parliament to legalise euthanasia has been criticised by both the country's doctors and Catholic bishops. A survey carried out last year found that 75% of doctors opposed the law, and Marc Moens, vice-chairman of the Belgian medical chamber, said: "Doctors know that this law is simply flawed and find it totally unacceptable that individuals who are not terminally ill will also be eligible for euthanasia." In a statement issued on Friday, the bishops condemned the vote because euthanasia was "directly opposed to the fundamental respect for human life that lies at the heart of a society based on human dignity." [Reuters, 16 May ; Pro-Life Infonet , 20 May] The newly elected government of the Netherlands favours a revision of the country's law which permits euthanasia. The Christian Democrats (CDA), who had opposed the legislation for euthanasia debated in parliament last year, won the largest number of seats in the Dutch general election last week. Albert Jan Maat, a CDA member of the European parliament, said: "The reality is that people are not so keen on euthanasia as on greater possibilities of care and palliative treatment, and this is a request that gained ground when euthanasia was legalised in the country." [Zenit, 17 May ] Doctors in China are reported to have transplanted the ovaries of an aborted baby girl into a 28-year-old woman to treat her for the premature onset of the menopause. The Xinhua news agency reported that the woman was experiencing a number of symptoms associated with the menopause, such as coarse skin and insomnia, but that these symptoms disappeared after the surgery at Zhengzhou university hospital in central Henan province. [News24, 19 May ] It has been estimated that Life Assistance Centres in Italy have saved the lives of 55,000 children since they began operating 25 years ago. The centres, which are an initiative of Italy's Pro-Life Movement, are thought to have prevented 6,000 abortions last year alone. A spokesman said that 16% of pregnant women who sought help at the centres already had an abortion certificate, and that 83% of these then decided to continue with their pregnancy. [Zenit, 19 May ] The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) has alleged that "reproductive rights" campaigners who lobbied and disrupted meetings at the recent UN child summit were representatives of abortion equipment dealers. Lobbyists for Ipas wore bright green T-shirts bearing the slogan: "Supporting sexual and reproductive rights for all." Ipas has produced and sold manual vacuum aspirators, a portable device which can be used for procuring abortions, since 1973. Such devices have been used in refugee camps. [EWTN News and SPUC, 17 May] A prominent pro-life US senator is planning to introduce legislation which would prohibit the patenting of human beings, including cloned human embryos. Senator Sam Brownback's initiative came after it was reported that the US Patent and Trademark Office had granted a patent to the University of Missouri last year which might cover cloned human embryos. It is thought that the prohibition of slavery in the US constitution would prevent the patenting of cloned embryos, but Senator Brownback said that his measure would clarify the matter. Some legal experts believe that even a patent on a particular cloning process could give the holder of such a patent some rights over the people produced by means of the process. [Wall Street Journal, etc., via Pro-Life Infonet , 20 May]

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