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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 30 October 2002

30 October 2002

30 October 2002 The Holy See's main negotiator at United Nations meetings since 1996 has entirely rejected claims by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) that the UN convention on the rights of the child has established an international right to abortion. A brochure on the IPPF website claims that the right to health in the convention can be interpreted as a right to "receive a full range of sexual and reproductive health services ... including contraceptives [and] abortion services". Mgr James Reinert, the Holy See's UN attaché who has been at the heart of negotiations over UN documents for six years, said: "I read the statement of IPPF, and took it with a grain of salt. They can say what they want but it is not true... and their saying it, as far as I am concerned, is worth as much as saying [it] established the 'right to jump off your roof and fly.'" [SPUC, 30 October; C-FAM Friday Fax, 25 October ] News that the RU-486 abortion drug is to be tested for the first time in Italy has met with widespread condemnation. 400 women will take RU-486 with misoprostol at Turin's Sant'Anna hospital to terminate pregnancies up to seven weeks after their last menstrual period. Italy is one of the few European countries not to have licensed RU-486, but doctors believe the trial is possible under article 15 of the Italian abortion law which obliges doctors to pursue the least traumatic and dangerous methods of abortion. The president of the National Medical Association, the Italian government's health minister and the archbishop of Turin all condemned the trial. [Reuters, via Yahoo! News, 30 October ] The Vatican has focused on the need to defend human life in a message to Hindus. Cardinal Francis Arinze, until recently the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, reminded Hindus in a letter to mark their feast of Diwali that participants at an inter-religious meeting in Assisi last January had committed themselves to the protection of "each single life and the whole of life". The cardinal noted that "the mystery of life, from the moment of conception onwards" was attended by prayers and rituals in the Hindu tradition, and went on to explain that Christians viewed human life as sacred and a gift of God "sealed by Christ's blood, which is shed... for every human being". [Zenit, 29 October ] A national opinion poll in Canada has found that only 23% of the population support calls for all abortions to be publicly funded. The poll, which was commissioned by LifeCanada which represents the educational branch of the pro-life movement in Canada, also found that 37% favoured legal protection of unborn children from conception, while only 30% agreed with the current situation in which legal protection only applies from birth. [LifeSite, 29 October ] An appellate court in New Jersey has cleared the way for a US jury to determine for the first time whether a first trimester abortion terminates the life of a human being. The case (Rosa Acuna v Dr Sheldon Turkish) concerns a woman who had an abortion and is now seeking damages for emotional distress against the abortionist because he did not explain that the procedure terminated a human life. The trial court decided that the US supreme court's 1973 decision in the case of Roe v Wade prohibited the law from recognising the humanity of an unborn child, but the appellate court has rejected that assertion and ordered a re-trial. [PR Newswire, 29 October; via Northern Light ] A medical official in Kenya has expressed concern at the number of abortions in his area. Dr Robert Ayisi, the western provincial medical officer, described abortion as "a serial silent killer in our midst" and reminded medical practitioners that they faced prosecution and de-registration if they performed abortions. [East African Standard, 29 October; via allAfrica.com ]

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