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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 October 2002

8 October 2002

8 October 2002 Pro-lifers on both sides of the Irish Sea have urged voters in the Republic of Ireland to reject the Nice treaty in the forthcoming referendum on 19 October. Dana Rosemary Scallon, the pro-life member of the European parliament for Connaught and Ulster, warned that the treaty would further confirm the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights as the first pillar of a future European constitution, which could then be used to override Ireland's constitutional protection of the unborn. In a message to Irish clergy, John Smeaton, UK director of SPUC, also urged a 'No' vote in the referendum. Mr Smeaton cited the concerns expressed by Pope John Paul II about the Charter in 2000, and warned that the erroneous understanding of the human person in the Charter of Fundamental Rights could further erode protection of early human life in Ireland and other pro-life countries. [SPUC, 7 October ; Dana Rosemary Scallon MEP, 4 October] Italy's Pro-Life Movement has praised the Italian government for opposing European Union funding of destructive embryonic stem cell research. When the EU's Council of Ministers voted last week on the specific projects to be funded under the Sixth Framework Programme for research, only Italy maintained its opposition to destructive embryonic research. However, this was sufficient to obtain a moratorium on funding for destructive research at least until the end of next year. The question of whether funding for destructive research will be allowed after this time is dependent on the conclusions of a seminar of European bioethics institutions next year. Carlo Casini, president of Italy's Movimento per la Vita, said: "The answer to this question is the indispensable assumption needed to make decisions on experimentation with embryos. In fact, if the embryo is a person and not a thing, then he/she cannot be treated as a means to attain other ends, even if they are noble." [Zenit, 2 October ; Euro-Fam, 5 October ] The Catholic bishops of Ireland have insisted that euthanasia can never be justified. A new booklet prepared by the bishops entitled 'End of Life Care - Ethical and Pastoral Issues' was launched yesterday by Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick. While acknowledging that the "best possible care" in the last days and hours of life may entail making a patient as comfortable as possible rather than "dramatic intervention" to prolong life, the bishops affirm that it can never be right to intend death, either by action or omission. In a pastoral letter published with the booklet, the bishops stress the need for effective palliative care, which "quite apart from any question of morality ... should mean there is no need for euthanasia". [Irish Independent, 8 October] A Scottish woman who had an abortion by RU-486 and then found her aborted unborn child in a jar is planning to sue the hospital where the abortion took place. Nicola McManus, aged 27, who already had three children, was shocked to find her foetus in a jar labelled with her name while she was speaking to her husband over the telephone at the hospital in Glasgow's Stobhill hospital. Mrs McManus has also described how she lay in a hospital ward for hours waiting for the drug regimen to take effect, and how she felt intense pain when it did. The North Glasgow NHS Trust has apologised to her for the "obvious distress" caused. [Daily Record, 8 October ] Canada's justice minister has pre-empted debate on embryonic stem cell research in the Canadian House of Commons by assuring researchers that the practice would be allowed. Anne McLellan said that it would be "inappropriate to shut down the potential that might exist within embryonic stem cell research". [LifeSite, 7 October ] Delegates at the British Conservative party's annual national conference have warmly applauded SPUC's Peter Smith for his comments on parental rights and the provision of abortifacient morning-after pills in schools. Mr Smith made a brief intervention in the conference hall yesterday in which he urged legislation to ensure that girls under 16 could not be given abortifacients or contraceptives without the consent of their parents. At a breakfast meeting this morning, Peter Smith met with Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative party leader, who said that he agreed with the intervention. [SPUC, 8 October]

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