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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 23 September 2002

23 September 2002

23 September 2002 Belgium has become the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalise euthanasia since the fall of Nazi Germany. The final stage in the passage of Belgium's euthanasia law, which was passed by parliament in May, happened at the end of last week when the government established a permanent committee to monitor its implementation. This committee will meet tomorrow to approve an official form which doctors must complete when they perform euthanasia. Under the law, euthanasia can be carried out on terminally ill patients who have requested it as long as certain legal procedures are followed. The Catholic Church in Belgium has condemned the law, although a majority of the population appear to support it. [Daily Telegraph and Ananova, 23 September ] The leader of the Catholic Church in Peru has denounced the abortifacient morning-after pill. Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, archbishop of Lima and primate of Peru, described use of the morning-after pill as a crime and "an attack on life" because it caused a chemical abortion. The cardinal made his comments at a conference on bioethics attended by Fernando Carbone, Peru's health minister. Mr Carbone has been criticised in some circles for basing the country's family planning policies on Catholic teaching. It was he who suspended distribution of morning-after pills at public clinics. [Agencia EFE, 20 September; via Northern Light ] The widower of Diane Pretty, the motor-neurone disease sufferer whose legal bid for a right to be helped to die was thrown out in the courts, has handed a petition calling for a right to die to No.10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British prime minister. The petition contained 50,000 names, including 10,000 collected over the internet. Mr Pretty is now leading a nationwide campaign for assisted suicide called UK Act Now. Rachel Hurst, director of Disability Awareness in Action, warned that any change in the law would be "very wrong" and would lead to a "slippery slope" affecting even those who did not want to die. [BBC and Sky News , 23 September] A popular British singer has revealed that she was suicidal after her abortion. In a book to be published next month, Nicole Appleton, a former member of the group called All Saints, reveals that she aborted a baby conceived with Robbie Williams, another popular British singing celebrity. Ms Appleton claims that she had the abortion against Robbie Williams' wishes, and writes: "The abortion must have symbolised everything [Robbie] hated about how this business can control your life. It so overwhelmed me that he had lost his child. I wanted to weep and weep." [BBC Radio 1 News, 23 September ; Ananova, 21 September ] It has emerged that the Canadian federal government is fining the province of Nova Scotia a sum of $39,000 a year for refusing to pay the full cost of abortions in private clinics. A total of four Canadian provinces refuse to fund the total cost of private abortions, but a spokesman for Health Canada explained that Nova Scotia had been singled out because it had made commitments to fund private abortions in full. All Canadian provinces fund abortions in public hospitals, although Prince Edward Island insists that publicly funded abortions can only take place in another province. [LifeSite, 20 September ] California has become the first American state to establish a legal regulatory framework for destructive embryonic stem cell research. Pro-abortion governor Gray Davis signed legislation yesterday which allows the use of state funds for destructive research programmes and requires IVF fertility clinics to inform clients about the option of donating their spare embryos to research. Governor Davis said that the law meant that California was "perfectly positioned to be a world leader in this area". It is reported that the move could set the stage for a showdown with the US federal government and Congress. [Mercury News and SFGate , 23 September]

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