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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 November 2002

11 November 2002

11 November 2002 A row has erupted among doctors at an English hospital over plans to abort a twin boy in the final weeks of pregnancy. A consultant at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle first proposed aborting the twin a month ago after the child was diagnosed with a heart defect which he considered to be inoperable. However, the child's 19-year-old mother is now into her 35th week of pregnancy and other consultants and specialists at the hospital believe that the abortion would have disastrous psychological effects. Medical opinion is also divided as to the child's prognosis, with several experts believing that he has a good chance of leading a normal life. One doctor has now threatened the hospital's medical director with legal action if the late-term abortion is allowed to proceed, although the latest reports suggest that the mother has now refused the abortion. Late-term abortions up to birth are allowed in Britain when doctors believe that the victim would be born "seriously handicapped". In this case the abortion would be performed by injecting potassium chloride directly into the child's heart, and his dead body would then be delivered at the same time as his living twin sister. [Sunday Times, 10 November; The Journal, 11 November] A South Korean bishop has warned that "the culture of death will dull the conscience of Catholics" if priests fail to speak out against abortion. In a pastoral letter, Bishop Boniface Choi-Ki-san of Inchon wrote: "Abortion is a particularly heinous form of murder because it kills an innocent child who cannot defend himself in his mother's womb, which should be the safest place in the world." South Korea's abortion rate is one of the highest in the world. There are nearly two million abortions each year, and abortions outnumber live births by three to one. [Zenit, 8 November ] The council of the Ontario College of Pharmacists has voted unanimously to propose a change in the law to allow them to provide abortifacient morning-after pills without a doctor's prescription. A 16-month trial scheme in which 40 pharmacies in Toronto have been able to dispense the morning-after pill is due to end within two weeks, and an amendment to the state's Drug and Pharmacy Regulations Act is needed to allow the scheme to continue. However, Ontario's health minister has insisted that no decision will be made on changing the law until after data from the trial project is received in June. 7,000 women have received the morning-after pill from pharmacists over the course of the trial. [The Toronto Star, 8 November; via Pro-Life E-News]

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