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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 October 2002

17 October 2002

17 October 2002 Pro-lifers are urging delegates at the United Nations to back a complete ban on human cloning. The next meeting to discuss a proposed convention against cloning is taking place today and tomorrow (17-18 October), and another meeting is planned for 6 November. The final decision will be agreed by the UN's general assembly, after which individual countries will be asked to ratify the convention. Euro-Fam, a European pro-life information service, is urging pro-lifers to ask their governments to support the proposal of Spain, the Philippines and the USA for a comprehensive ban on cloning. France, Germany and other countries are proposing a ban which would apply only to cloning for reproductive purposes and not to the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos for experimental and so-called therapeutic purposes. [Euro-Fam , 15 October] A Swiss expert on abortion has warned that the recent law legalising abortion [see digest for 7 October ] will lead to many more unborn children losing their lives. Mr François Geinoz of the Limmat Stiftung group observes that the law actually legalises abortion up to birth in certain cases, and estimates that the social respectability or "democratic legitimisation" given to abortion by the passing of the law will result in a 25% increase in the total number of abortions within a few years. This is despite the fact that the Swiss population total is declining. [SPUC and Limmat Stiftung , 16 October] American researchers have suggested that an unborn child whose mother consumes moderate or high amounts of alcohol during pregnancy could be at greater risk of breast cancer in later life. The conclusions, presented to the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting in Boston, are based on a study involving rats, but separate studies have already suggested a link between maternal drinking in pregnancy and the health of offspring into adolescence. The theory is that maternal alcohol consumption increases the levels of oestrogen in an unborn child, which in turn affects the development of breast cells making them more vulnerable to cancer later on. [BBC News online, 15 October ] A court in Michigan has ruled that a woman can use deadly force to defend her unborn child even when her own life is not at risk. The Michigan court of appeals made the ruling in the case of a woman who killed her boyfriend. A retrial was ordered because the original jury had not been instructed to consider the so-called 'defence of others' theory. The court insisted, however, that its ruling did not imply that unborn children should be considered as persons under state law. [Newsday, 16 October] Officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have re-affirmed their country's firm stance against abortion after two doctors were jailed for performing abortions. The doctors were arrested after police acted on a tip-off and sent a pregnant woman into their clinic. Once the doctors started preparing for the abortion, the premises were raided by police. Dr Ibrahim Ali Al Qhadi at the ministry of health in Dubai said: "Abortion is illegal in the UAE. Any doctor who performs abortion, or prescribes medicines to assist it, will be prosecuted." Abortion is only allowed in the UAE after three doctors have agreed that the procedure is necessary to save the woman's life, and only then under tight controls and with the written consent of the woman's husband or guardian. [Gulf News, 17 October ] The government of Taiwan has proposed a system of inducements intended to encourage couples to have more than two children. Proposals issued by the Taiwanese ministry of the interior and the Council for Economic Planning and Development include payments of about $855 to couples with at least two children for every further child they have and extended annual leave for women with children under six. Infertile couples would also be helped to undergo IVF treatment [although this is a retrograde step because IVF entails massive loss of early human life]. Taiwan's fertility rate [the average number of children each woman will bear] has now fallen to 1.16, and the abortion rate is extremely high. [AFP, 15 October, via Pro-Life Infonet ; also see digest for 15 October ] The South African arm of Marie Stopes International, a London-based promoter and provider of abortions around the world, has published a research paper which claims there is high demand for abortion services in the country. The programme director of Marie Stopes South Africa (MSSA) argued that the high demand was surprising, given the fact that knowledge of family planning methods was widespread. The paper complained that abortion provision was still hampered by lack of resources and the unwillingness of medical staff to participate in abortions. MSSA claims to have performed 23% of all legal abortions in South Africa between 1997 and 2000. [, 26 October; via Northern Light ] The president of a new umbrella group for pro-life educational work in Canada has warned that attempts to define abortion as a "medically necessary" procedure could spell the end for Medicare, the Canadian publicly funded health system. Peter Ryan, president of LifeCanada, noted that Anne MacLellan, the federal health minister, and Henry Morgentaler, a prominent abortionist, were both in favour of defining abortion as "medically necessary" in every case, which would mean that all abortions would be funded under Medicare. He said that the obliteration of any distinction between "medically necessary" and "elective" would put unbearable pressure on Medicare and was an example of the government's ideological extremism. [LifeSite, 16 October ]

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