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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 7 October 2002

7 October 2002

7 October 2002 A major study sponsored by a British government department has found that one in four general medical practices in England include a doctor who will not give consent to abortion. The teenage pregnancy unit at the department of health based the figure on responses from 40% of England's 4,000 practices. The conclusion appears to contradict a more narrow survey conducted by Marie Stopes International (MSI), a major abortion provider, three years ago which indicated that only 18% of doctors were opposed to abortion. While MSI expressed concern at the apparent rise in opposition to abortion among doctors, Dr Michael Jarmulowicz, master of the Guild of Catholic Doctors, said: "The truth that abortion is destruction of life cannot be denied forever and it is encouraging that so many doctors are exercising their right to practise by such principles." [Daily Telegraph, 7 October] A federal law legalising abortion in Switzerland has come into effect. Abortion is now legal during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as long as the mother undergoes counselling beforehand. The law had been passed by the Swiss parliament with the support of two of the four major political parties as well as the main Protestant denominations, and was approved by voters in a referendum last June. It is reported that the new law will have little effect on the total number of abortions because the procedure was already widely tolerated and there are between 12,000 and 13,000 abortions performed annually. [Swissinfo, 7 October ] Dr Germaine Greer, a prominent feminist academic and writer, has criticised attempts to promote the RU-486 abortion drug. Speaking at a 'Best for Women' conference for gynaecologists and obstetricians in Australia, Dr Greer revealed that she had been asked to assist in promoting RU-486. However, she said that it was an "odd situation" in which abortion was regarded as some kind of privilege and observed: "These are violently active chemicals and they have violent reactions on the organism. What is the situation in which a woman would undergo that kind of assault?" [The Age, 4 October ] The Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia has said that abortion and embryo experimentation are based on a false pursuit of individual freedom or technological progress. In a statement to mark yesterday's Respect Life Sunday, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who is also chairman of the US bishops' committee for pro-life activities, observed: "In our technologically advanced society, we are tempted to treat life as dispensable ... Abortion is advanced in the name of freedom, but it undermines freedom by demeaning life itself. No society can truly be free if its most vulnerable members can lose their very lives at the hands of others." [Zenit, 3 October ] Clonaid, a company linked to the Raelian cult, has claimed that several women on its cloning programme are currently pregnant with cloned babies of three months' gestation or more. Brigitte Boisselier, Clonaid's president, claimed that the group began implanting cloned embryos into women in February, but admitted that the miscarriage rate had been higher than would be expected in "normal" pregnancies. Ms Boisselier also claimed that a machine which could be used to facilitate the cloning process would soon be installed in a laboratory in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in response to a growing demand for reproductive cloning in Africa. [AFP, via Pro-Life Infonet , 3 October; Zenit, 4 October ] The Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations in New York has refused to attend a charitable fundraising event because the keynote speaker is known to favour abortion. Archbishop Renato Martino, who will soon be moving to Rome to take up his new post as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, pulled out of the dinner event to raise money for a homeless shelter run by Franciscan friars because Libby Pataki, the wife of New York's governor, was to be honoured. Cardinal Edward Egan, New York's archbishop, had already declined to attend. [LifeSite, 4 October ]

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