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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 September 2002

4 September 2002

4 September 2002 4 September 2002 Pro-lifers have welcomed the outcome of the United Nations world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg. Agreement on the summit's plan of implemetation was finally reached at 1.30 this morning, and pro-lifers were pleased that the inclusion of pro-abortion language was successfully resisted. While paragraph 47 of the plan refers to "human rights and fundamental freedoms", the reference to "national laws and cultural and religious values" makes it extremely difficult to interpret the paragraph as supporting a right to abortion. Peter Smith, SPUC's delegate at the summit, said that the negotiations had been hard but that, while pro-lifers had gained a little, pro-abortionists had gained nothing and a lot of proposed language supporting abortion had been blocked. Furthermore, the US and certain other countries are expected to issue strongly-worded reservations at the close of the summit today insisting that nothing in the plan of implematation can be interpreted as implying a right to abortion. [SPUC, 4 September] Young European pro-lifers have criticised the mayor of Brussels in Belgium for hosting a reception in the town hall for participants in an international pro-euthanasia meeting. A conference on 'Euthanasia and the Law' for pro-euthanasia doctors organised by the World Federation for the Right to Die in Dignity is starting tomorrow in the Belgian capital, but members of the European Youth Alliance have been refused permission to hold a pro-life awareness event outside the town hall during the mayor's reception. [EYA media release, 4 September] Pro-lifers in countries belonging to the European Union are being urged to contact their government minister with responsibility for research ahead of the final decision on EU funding for destructive embryonic research later this month. Euro-Fam reports that the EU's council of ministers will decide on the specific programmes or projects to be funded under the general Sixth Framework Programme for research on 30 September, although the Danish presidency of the council is proposing the adoption of these specific projects before detailed ethical guidelines are drawn up. This is regarded by pro-lifers as a trap because the European Commission will then be able to select which projects receive funding according to its criteria, which do not exclude embryo research. Euro-Fam insists that the Danish proposal should only be accepted if destructive research on embryos is explicitly excluded. [Euro-Fam , 31 August] Israel's Council for Demography is to examine the country's abortion rate as it draws up policy guidelines for increasing the Jewish birth rate. Shlomo Benizri, the Israeli labour and social welfare minister, has reconvened the council after five years of inactivity in order to address various demographic issues. Mr Benizri is known to oppose abortion, as is Dr Baruch Levy, the council's chairman, who believes that education is the key to reducing the abortion rate. [Ha'aretz Daily, 4 September ] About 13% of known pregnancies in Israel end in registered abortions. The Vatican's top communications official has said that Catholics must speak out corageously against immoral acts such as abortion. Archbishop John P Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, warned that many people were afraid of speaking out against abortion and other immoral acts "because it could be considered offensive in our increasingly tolerant society". However, the archbishop insisted that Christians "are obliged to speak the truth, in season and out of season, even when it is 'politically incorrect.'" [CNS News, 3 September ]

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