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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 22 October 2002

22 October 2002

22 October 2002 European pro-lifers are being urged to contact their members of the European parliament ahead of a vote in the parliament on Thursday which will decide the EU's budget for the year ahead. The amount allotted in the budget for "population and reproductive health" aid overseas is 14 million euro, up from 8 million euro for this year. However, an amendment tabled by Göran Färm would increase this allotment to 24 million euro. This amount is in addition to the funds allotted to reproductive health aid in specific countries. [Euro-Fam , 22 October; SPUC] Lord Winston, the British IVF pioneer, has warned that clinics are freezing IVF embryos because it is commercially advantageous for both the parents and the clinic, despite possible long-term health effects. Lord Winston made his comments after it was announced that Britain is to launch a study into the potential health problems faced by the 68,000 children born as a result of IVF treatment in the UK since 1978. A joint working party set up by the Medical Research Council and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will decide how to conduct the study. Some experts warned that the practice of freezing and thawing embryos and injecting sperm directly into the cytoplasm of eggs may be unsafe in the long-term for those who are born. [The Independent, 22 October ] It has been estimated that while 68,000 IVF babies have been born alive in the UK, at least 1.2 million more have died or have been frozen or destroyed in the process. The European Union's commissioner for enlargement has reassured the leader of the Catholic Church in Malta that the EU will never assume jurisdiction in the area of abortion. Mr Gunther Verheugen met with Archbishop Joseph Mercieca in Malta and told him that the EU's position against seeking any role in national abortion legislation was "definite, absolute and forever". [Times of Malta, 19 October ] Abortion is outlawed in Malta, but pro-lifers in Ireland have warned that further European integration may mean that European law could be interpreted and enforced in such a way that statutory and constitutional protection of unborn life could be eroded or even set aside completely. An SPUC spokesman commented: "Sadly Mr Verheugen's assurance would seem utterly worthless in the absence of a binding treaty." A US cardinal has said that Catholics have a responsibility to be active defenders of the sanctity of life. Speaking at a pro-life symposium, Cardinal Anthony J Bevilacqua of Philadelphia said: "As Catholics, we cannot sit on the sidelines and simply allow others to dictate the future of our society. As Catholics, we are called to be conscientious and faithful citizens who work together to build a 'culture of life' in our country." [CNS News, 21 October ] Medical experts in India have drafted new guidelines to regulate use of the RU-486 abortion drug regimen in response to reports of complications due to improper use and easy availability of the drug. The guidelines, which were drawn up by 50 experts from around the country, have now been presented to the ministry of health and family welfare for official approval. However, the Indian authorities remain very keen on RU-486 being used under medical supervision. The secretary of the department of family welfare described the drug as "a boon for Indian women". [Express News Service, 21 October ] An Anglican minister in Uganda has pleaded guilty in court to procuring an abortion. Rev Paul Kafeero had been charged with assisting his fiancée to abort their unborn twins earlier this month by giving her strong drugs. In pleading guilty, the minister asked for a lenient sentence. [, 21 October; via Northern Light ] Abortion is illegal in Uganda under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, passed by the UK parliament when Uganda was in the British empire.

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