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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 October 2002

25 October 2002

25 October 2002 This Sunday (27 October) marks the 35th anniversary of the passing of Britain's Abortion Act. Since the Act came into effect on 27 April 1968, nearly 6,000,000 unborn children have been killed under its terms. Despite assurances by the original supporters of the bill in parliament that it would not lead to the practice of abortion on demand, there are now more than 500 registered abortions performed every day of the year in England, Wales and Scotland. Since the Act was amended in 1990, abortion has been permitted up to the 24th week of pregnancy for broad social reasons and up to birth in other cases such as foetal handicap. Pro-life groups in the UK will be marking the anniversary with a series of acts of witness, such as an initiative by members of SPUC to have a candle burning in a window of their home to mark the deaths of so many unborn victims. Meanwhile, pro-abortionists such as Marie Stopes International are using the anniversary to push for an even further liberalisation of the law to give women a statutory legal right to abortion. [SPUC, 25 October] The European parliament has agreed to increase the EU's overseas aid budget for "population and reproductive healthcare" by 300%. Last year the amount allotted in the budget to this area of overseas aid was 8 million euro, but the plan for this year's budget was to increase the allotment to 14 million euro. However, an amendment to the budget tabled by Mr Göran Färm, a socialist MEP from Sweden, seeking to increase the level of funding still further to 24 million euro was adopted at the plenary session of the parliament in Strasbourg yesterday without a vote. Pro-lifers expressed disappointment at the adoption of the amendment, particularly since it was adopted without a vote. The 24 million euro will be available for use in projects around the world, and will be in addition to the amount of EU money spent on reproductive health projects in particular countries. [SPUC, 25 October] A Dutch doctor who was convicted of helping an infirm but not seriously ill elderly patient to commit suicide in 1988 could face a retrial under the new law on euthanasia. The country's solicitor general has advised the high court that Dr Philip Sutorius should be retried in the light of the new law because no punishment was imposed by the court which originally found him guilty. The case has raised the issue of whether so-called existential suffering - when a patient is deemed simply to be "tired of life" - should be considered a ground for legal euthanasia. [British Medical Journal, 26 October] Experts from the UK have told the US President's Council on Bioethics that people in Britain accept a clear distinction between early human embryos and older unborn children. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, chairman of the Human Genetics Commission, and Suzi Leather, chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, addressed the council last week to offer the benefit of their experiences in the UK. Baroness Kennedy told the committee that people in the UK accepted "a clear distinction" between cloning for reproductive purposes and so-called therapeutic cloning. Some members of the council praised the two British experts for striking "a very sensible balance", but Alfonson Gomez-Lobo, a professor of moral theology, rejected the UK's policies on embryology because they were based on utilitarian grounds. [British Medical Journal, 26 October] A nurse in Louisiana is claiming that the state's health department has threatened to terminate her employment because she continues to refuse to dispense the morning-after pill. Cynthia Day, a nurse at a clinic in New Orleans, believes that life is sacred from the moment of conception, and the American Center for Law and Justice is supporting her claim of religious discrimination against the state. In a similar case earlier this year a jury decided that a nurse who had refused to dispense the morning-after pill had had her constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion violated. [WorldNetDaily, 24 October ]

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