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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 14 November 2002

14 November 2002

14 November 2002 In a landmark address to the Italian parliament today, Pope John Paul II condemned abortion and urged Italians to have more children. In his speech, which constituted the first time a pope had addressed Italy's national legislature since a secular Italian state outside papal jurisdiction was established in 1870, the pope urged the government to enact policies to reverse the dramatic decline in Italy's birth rate - which now stands at only 1.23 children per woman. [Reuters and CNN , 14 November] Abortion was legalised in Italy in 1978, but the present government is following pro-life policies in some areas while prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has called for "a more convinced defence of life". The Polish parliament yesterday rejected a bill initiated by pro-lifers which would have affirmed Polish national sovereignty with regard to cultural and moral issues. The bill had been proposed as a defence against any possible moves by the European Union to put pressure on Poland to legalise abortion once it became a full member of the EU. Earlier this year the Slovak parliament passed a declaration with the same aim. [With thanks to Ewa Kowalewska of HLI Europe; see digest for 13 February ] A Scottish maternity hospital is offering grieving parents of miscarried or stillborn babies the chance to have photographs taken of their children dressed in beautiful shawls and lying in tiny cradles before they are buried or cremated. The initiative at the Paisley Maternity Hospital is thanks to the generosity of a couple who lost their own unborn child 13 weeks into pregnancy earlier this year. Tony and Elaine McDonald have raised the money for a digital camera to be used in the hospital's Quiet Room - a place where grieving parents can come for comfort and solace after losing an unborn child. [Paisley Daily Express, 14 November ] Researchers in Norway believe that a bladder infection may help to prevent stillbirths. A team led by Dr Frederik Froen at the University of Oslo were expecting to establish a link between poor health and complications in pregnancy, but discovered instead that pregnant women who developed urinary tract infections or cystitis were 70% less likely to have an unexplained stillbirth. The researchers suggested that this was because the bacteria had a protective effect on the developing unborn child, but could not explain how this could be the case. [BBC News online, 14 November ] The newly elected attorney general of Kansas has announced that he will enforce state restrictions on late-term abortions. Phil Kline said that he disagreed with his predecessor as attorney general and the pro-abortion state governor who claim that US supreme court decisions imply a mental health exception to a 1998 state law restricting late-term abortions of so-called viable foetuses - unborn children able to survive outside the womb. [AP, 13 November; via Pro-Life Infonet] A prominent disabled pro-life campaigner in the UK has described how she went through 10 years of her life wishing that she could opt for euthanasia. In an article for a British national newspaper, Alison Davis, who suffers from spina bifida among other conditions, laments moves towards legalised euthanasia. She describes how her own desire for death had been due to her state of mind which has since changed, even though her physical condition has not. She believes that she would qualify for euthanasia under the law recently introduced in the Netherlands, but that the Dutch "strict legal safeguards" were "simply value judgements by those who think they know what sort of person is, in effect, 'better off dead'". [The Observer, 10 November ]

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