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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 7 May 2002

7 May 2002

7 May 2002 The United Nations general assembly's three-day special session on children begins in New York tomorrow and observers expect that participants will fail to agree about the provision of abortion to minors. Preparatory meetings have over-run, with Canada, Europe and Latin American countries pressing for so-called reproductive rights (including abortion) for children. The US wants no such phraseology in the session's declaration and supports education in sexual abstinence. Peter Smith of International Right to Life has welcomed the American delegation's promotion of the Bush administration's pro-life stance. [LifeSite, 6 May , Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 3 May , and see SPUC, 29 April ] US officials are to visit China to see if the UN is involved with coerced abortion there, though pro-life campaigners warn that they may not find the truth. Representative Chris Smith, who last year displayed photographs showing that UN population fund activities broke American law on forced abortion and sterilisation, urged the three State Department investigators to talk to ordinary citizens. He was concerned that the Chinese government would put up a "sanitised front" and that an imperfect investigation could do more harm than good. [NewsMax, 2 May , and LSN on EWTN, 4 May ] The Pope has asserted that human dignity and life are threatened by the culture of death and "egotistical and Promethean options" in medicine and research. John Paul II told the pontifical council for health care workers that the church had to show the risen Christ's face to the sick through loving service to them. [Zenit, 3 May ] Campaigners have challenged the UK government's teenage pregnancy strategy, saying that it encourages early sexual activity. In a letter to MPs, the Family Education Trust cited a study at a college in Gloucestershire in which 45% of boys said sex education had encouraged them to experiment with intercourse. The government reportedly denies that abstinence-education works. [Telegraph, 3 May ] The government's strategy includes provision of abortifacient morning-after pills. Pregnant teenagers also come under pressure to abort their babies in other ways. Stroke damage could be alleviated by encouraging patients' natural mechanisms to repair and create cells. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have observed how, in mice, bone marrow cells spontaneously migrate to the brain to repair the harm caused by strokes. They hope to find ways of enhancing this process, which has none of the ethical drawbacks of embryo-based therapies nor the potential problem of the rejection of donated cells. [The Stroke journal reported on Science Daily, 3 May ] The Hawaiian senate has unexpectedly refused to legalise physician-assisted suicide. The measure would have allowed doctors to prescribe doses of lethal substances to be taken by mouth. Three senators switched sides and the vote was 14 to 11 against the proposal. [Catholic News Service, 6 May ] Sri Lanka's Catholic bishops are opposing possible plans to allow abortion in certain unspecified cases. The bishops' conference has issued a statement after media reported that the government wanted to amend the penal code. [UCA News reported on Catholic News Service, 2 May ] The Israeli army is planning to subsidise the cost of supplying abortion-inducing morning-after pills to women soldiers. Servicewomen presently have to pay the full price for such drugs at civilian pharmacies, where prescription-free supply has been allowed since March. The army intends that military medical staff should start to provide the pills. [Jerusalem Post, 2 May ]

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