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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 9 September 2002

9 September 2002

9 September 2002 The Pope has appealed to the British government to respect human life. In an address to Kathryn Frances Colvin, the new British ambassador to the Holy See, Pope John Paul II lamented attempts to legitimise abortion, embryo experimentation and human cloning. He then insisted: "Neither human life nor the human person can ever legitimately be treated as an object to be manipulated or as a disposable commodity; rather each human being - at every stage of existence, from conception to natural death - is endowed by the Creator with a sublime dignity that demands the greatest respect and vigilance on the part of individuals, communities, nations and international bodies." [Zenit, 8 September ] The UK is the only western country whose parliament has legislated to authorise the creation and destruction of cloned human beings for research purposes. Pro-abortionists in the European parliament are trying to recover the monopoly on European Union funding for women's organisations previously enjoyed by the pro-abortion European Women's Lobby (EWL). After a three-year campaign by pro-lifers, the European parliament voted last year to end the EWL's monopoly [see digest for 31 October 2001 ]. However, an amendment to the budget line on women's groups which will be voted on by the parliament's pro-abortion women's rights committee tomorrow aims to restrict access to money for women's organisations to those whose activities are "in keeping with the Community equality strategy" drawn up during the Beijing UN conference on women in 1995. Euro-Fam reports that this is a blatant attempt effectively to reinstate the EWL monopoly. [Euro-Fam , 7 September] Doctors from Britain, Spain and Belgium have developed a technique for conducting keyhole surgery on unborn children to correct diaphragmatic hernias, a condition which affects between one in 5,000 and 10,000 unborn children and can cause their death. Professor Kypros Nicolaides from King's College, London, said that parents whose unborn babies had the condition would have been told six months ago to consider an abortion, but that now foetal surgery was the preferred option. Eight babies have undergone the experimental procedure so far, six of whom survived. Foetal keyhole surgery has been used to treat urinary tract defects, and could be used to treat spina bifida in the future - although it remains controversial due to the high risk of death for the unborn child. [Reuters, via Yahoo! News, 9 September ] The Catholic bishops of Germany have stressed the need to protect unborn life in their guidance for voters in the federal parliamentary elections to be held on 22 September. Among other issues, the bishops told Catholics that the weakest, especially the unborn, had to be protected. They also condemned experimentation on human embryos. [Zenit, 6 September ] A new technique developed by US scientists to measure foetal brainwaves could help doctors to protect babies from damage sustained in the womb. Electrical impulses in the brain create small electrical fields, and researchers at the University of Arkansas have used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to monitor slight fluctuations in these magnetic fields in the brains of unborn children between 28 and 36 weeks into pregnancy. It is thought that doctors could employ the technique to identify those babies at risk of brain damage caused by a lack of nutrients from the placenta late in pregnancy. [BBC News online, 6 September ] Brainwaves have been identified in unborn children as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. The governor of California has signed three pro-abortion bills into law. The measures signed by Governor Gray Davis protect the privacy of abortion clinic workers and patients, oblige more hospitals and doctors to provide or undergo abortion training, and require rape crisis centres to give out the abortifacient morning-after pill. Two other bills in the legislative pipeline in California would legalise the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos for research purposes and allow experimentation on live human embryos provided they are not allowed to survive. [LifeSite, 6 September ]

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