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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 9 October 2002

9 October 2002

9 October 2002 The first official case of legal euthanasia in Belgium has provoked an outcry after it was claimed that the killing was simply an illegal publicity stunt. 39-year-old Mario Verstraete, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, died from lethal injection on 30 September, exactly a week after the new law came into effect. However, under the law a patient must request euthanasia at least a month before the killing is carried out, and a second opinion must be sought if the patient is not in the final stages of a terminal illness. Belgium's professional medical organisation has complained that the killing was illegal and is considering whether to take legal action over the case. [Guardian, 9 October ] One of the top cardinals of the Catholic Church has issued a warning about a Canadian pro-abortion group which is trying to establish a presence in several dioceses in Argentina. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has sent a warning note to the president of the Argentine bishops' conference about a group called Canadian Child Care Federation. The cardinal warned that the group worked with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a leading promoter and provider of abortions. [Zenit, 8 October ] The US abortion rate fell during the second half of the 1990s, according to a study by the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute. The survey found that, between 1994 and 2000, the abortion rate fell by 11% overall, and by 39% among girls aged 15 to 17. However, over the same period the abortion rate rose by 25% among the poorest women. A spokesman for National Right to Life suggested that the decline in the overall abortion rate was due to pro-life educational efforts and to pro-life legislation. [AP, via St Petersburg Times, and Pro-Life Infonet, 9 October ] The International Theological Commission of the Catholic Church is completing work on a document which reaffirms the theological arguments against abortion, euthanasia and human cloning. The document, entitled "Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God', will stress that human beings have a special responsibility as stewards of creation to protect the integrity of human life. It is expected to receive approval next month. [CNS, 8 October ] Pro-lifers in Northern Ireland have welcomed a call by borough councillors in County Tyrone for the local health board to publish information on the number of schools and pharmacies providing the abortifacient morning-after pill to girls under 16. The motion, which received unanimous support, also asked the Southern Health and Social Services Board to collate and publish rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection, as well as the number of teenagers known to have had abortions outside Northern Ireland. Betty Gibson, chairman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "It is a scandal that the morning-after pill is widely available here, against the wishes of the people and in spite of our restrictive abortion law." [SPUC, 9 October; Tyrone Times, 13 September] The US Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by Dr Jack Kevorkian to overturn his murder conviction and thus establish a right to assisted suicide. Dr Kevorkian is serving a prison sentence for second degree murder after a film of himself killing a terminally ill patient was broadcast on national television. Dr Kevorkian's lawyers argued that his conviction should be set aside because a right to be free from "unbearable and irremediable pain" was deeply rooted in the US constitution, but the supreme court justices rejected the appeal without comment. [Reuters, via Yahoo! News, 9 October ]

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