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News, 6 November 2002

6 November 2002

6 November 2002 In a significant victory for pro-lifers at the United Nations, a vote on the extent of an international convention against human cloning has been put off until next year. Delegates at the UN in New York have been trying to agree on what guidance should be given to the drafters of an international convention against human cloning to be agreed by the general assembly. France and Germany proposed that the guidance should recommend a treaty which only banned cloning for reproductive purposes, whereas Spain, the Philippines and the US proposed a comprehensive ban on cloning, including so-called therapeutic cloning. Peter Smith, SPUC's representative at the UN, said: "This is a crucial victory. A ban on so-called reproductive cloning would have given a signal to countries such as Germany to change their laws to allow so-called therapeutic human cloning, which always involves the destruction of human embryos... We agree with the United States that it is preferable to have no agreement than an unethical one." [Reuters and SPUC , 6 November] A leading English lawyer has said that proposed legislation on mental incapacity which could open the door to euthanasia is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. At a press conference yesterday in Britain's House of Lords, the anti-euthanasia group ALERT revealed a legal opinion it had obtained from Richard Gordon QC which explains why the Law Commission's draft Mental Incapacity Bill is incompatible with the Convention and with the Human Rights Act 1998 - the legislation which incorporated much of the Convention into UK law. The press conference was chaired by Baroness Masham of Illton and Dr Brian Iddon, a pro-life Labour member of the House of Commons. The Mental Incapacity bill forms the basis of the British government's proposals to allow for proxy decision makers to demand the withdrawal of food and fluids from mentally incapacitated patients. [SPUC, 6 November] The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) in the US has welcomed the Republican victory in yesterday's congressional elections. Results suggest that the Republicans have won control of the Senate from the Democrats and increased their majority in the House of Representatives. Carol Tobias, director of the NRLC's Political Action Committee said: "This is a tremendous night for the children." [Pro-Life Infonet , 5 November] As a whole, the Republicans are generally more pro-life than the Democrats, and a Republican majority in Congress will make it easier for pro-life legislation to succeed. Senator Tom Daschle, the former Democrat majority leader in the Senate, was an avowed pro-abortionist. The leader of the Catholic Church in Austria has said that all Christians are obliged by the Gospel to defend human life. In an address to workers at a pro-life crisis pregnancy charity, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, urged a "complete culture of life" based on a recognition of the wonder of life itself, "received as a gift". [Zenit, 5 November ] Louisiana's supreme court has upheld a state law which allows women to sue abortionists for unlimited damages if either they or their unborn child suffers injury as a result of an abortion [clearly this would only apply to an unborn child if he or she survived the attempted abortion.] Louisiana is the only American state with such a law that singles out abortion as the only procedure exempt from a limit of $500,000 in damages for other botched medical procedures. Abortion providers had challenged the law after some had been hit by very large judgements, although it is reported that abortion victims have collected nothing because the abortionists do not have insurance and simply file for bankruptcy. [LifeSite, 5 November ] The largest hospital to perform abortions in the Canadian province of New Brunswick has announced that it will no longer provide elective abortions from the end of this year. More than half of the 600 hospital abortions performed in New Brunswick each year are carried out at the South East Health Authority's Moncton hospital, but doctors have complained that half the women who book elective abortions later change their minds, wasting valuable time and resources. Peter Ryan, executive director of the province's Right to Life Association, welcomed the news which he viewed as a tacit admission that abortions were not medically necessary, but expressed concern that eugenic abortions on handicapped unborn babies would continue. [LifeSite, 5 November ]

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