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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 23 May 2002

23 May 2002

23 May 2002 The abortifacient morning-after pill will probably be available from pharmacists throughout New Zealand from the end of July. The country's ministry of health decided last year to allow pharmacists to dispense the drug once they had undergone special training, and the Pharmaceutical Society has said that more than 600 pharmacies have now enrolled for training programmes that will begin over the next six weeks. 90 pharmacists in Auckland have already received accreditation to dispense the drug, which can cause an early abortion by preventing the implantation of a newly conceived embryo. [New Zealand Herald, 23 May ] A 70-year-old cancer sufferer whose stated intention to kill herself has kindled a debate on euthanasia in Australia [see news for 26 March and 4 April ] has taken her own life. Nancy Crick, who was suffering from bowel cancer, took a lethal cocktail yesterday night in the presence of 21 "friends, family and supporters" and was dead half an hour later. Those who were present at the suicide could be liable for prosecution under Queensland state law on the basis that they were assisting. A spokesman for the police said that normal procedures were being followed. [CNSNews, 23 May ] It is reported that a European Union document advocating access to abortion will be voted on by the European parliament next month. The commission of women's rights and equality of opportunities of the European parliament has prepared a document which recommends that "the voluntary interruption of pregnancy should be legal, safe and universally accessible" in EU member states and in those countries which are seeking membership. [Pravda, 22 May ] Abortion is illegal in almost all cases in Ireland, a full member of the EU, and in Poland and Malta, which are seeking membership. An opinion poll in Denmark has suggested that a large majority support the legalisation of euthanasia. A survey conducted by PLS Ramboell and published in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper indicates that 68% support the legalisation of euthanasia generally, while 93% support it to end the suffering of terminally ill patients and 82% support it for those with incurable illnesses. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Danish health minister, said that he was shocked by the findings, "especially by the numbers of people who would like to end the lives of the aged, mentally ill and handicapped people". [AFP, 21 May; via Pro-Life Infonet ] In a debate on euthanasia yesterday, members of the UK parliament warned that a pro-euthanasia agenda was being advanced in the medico-legal world without proper parliamentary scrutiny. Mr David Amess, a pro-life Conservative MP, condemned the General Medical Council's guidance in Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Prolonging Treatment: Good Practice in Decision Making because it endorsed euthanasia by omission. Dr Brian Iddon, a Labour MP, warned that so-called advanced directives put patients in a more vulnerable position, and Tim Loughton, the opposition spokesman for health, said that the problem of patients "being made to feel that they are too much of a burden on their increasing with the ageing of the population." [House of Commons Hansard, 22 May ] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political spokesman, commented: "We hope that such perceptive criticisms by parliamentarians make the government realise that it will have a real fight on its hands if it tries to pass pro-euthanasia legislation." The Catholic Church in the US has criticised a new bill on cloning which has been presented by some as a compromise measure but which would allow the creation and destruction of human clones for research purposes. Gail Quinn, executive director of the US bishops' secretariat for pro-life activities, has written to members of the US senate urging them to reject the new bill because it "defines a subclass of humanity as nothing more than research material, to be produced solely in order to be destroyed". [Catholic News Service, 21 May ] The US senate is expected to vote on human cloning legislation next month. The House of Representatives has already voted in favour of a comprehensive ban on all human cloning. A 22-year-old man in the US has been sentenced to five years in prison for an attempted forced abortion. Michael T Bullock of Missouri poured poison into his pregnant girlfriend's drink in the hope that it would cause a miscarriage, but the 19-year-old woman later gave birth to a healthy baby. [St Louis Post Dispatch, 22 May; via Pro-Life Infonet ]

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