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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 April 2003

4 April 2003

4 April 2003 An inquest in Northampton, England, has returned a verdict of accidental death in the case of a Moldovan asylum seeker who died last May as a result of a botched abortion. Valentina Barladean, aged 29, was told by doctors that her unborn child had a malformed skeleton and would be born severely disabled. When she and her husband then had their UK asylum application rejected, she decided to go ahead with an abortion. However, she later sustained serious brain damage as a result of complications arising from the presence of her dead foetus inside her womb for four days. 11 days after that, her life support machine was turned off. Her family are now considering legal action against those responsible for her treatment. [Northampton Chronicle, 4 April ] Switzerland's official statistics agency has lost count of the number of surplus human embryos kept in storage and available for destructive research. The Swiss Federal Statistics Office is obliged under the law on 'reproductive medicine' passed in 2001 to keep data on the number of frozen IVF embryos, but has admitted failing to do so. Swiss researchers want to know the number and location of surplus embryos for their destructive research programmes because the importation of embryos into Switzerland is banned and patent rulings put them at a disadvantage when experimenting on imported stem cell lines. It is reported that surplus embryos stored before the 2001 law came into effect will have to be destroyed by the end of the year after the federal senate rejected a government proposal to extend this deadline. [swissinfo, 3 April ] Campaigners for doctor-assisted dying in Guernsey are claiming strong support for their cause. Ann Crocker, who founded an action group which recently sent postcards to many households on the island seeking support for assisted dying [see digest for 14 March ], claims that she has received about 2,000 responses. Last month Mrs Crocker organised a meeting which was attended by nine people. Angela Meadowcroft, chairperson of the locally-based Channel Islands Right to Life, said: "The campaigners for assisted dying may be vocal, but pro-life people in Guernsey are determined to do all we can to resist this initiative." [Guernsey Press, 3 April (and 12 March); SPUC, 4 April] As expected, the Vatican has published a lexicon of anti-life and anti-family euphemisms [see digests for 12 December 2002 and 23 January 2003 ]. The 868-page document has been produced by the Pontifical Council for the Family (PCF) and is initially available only in Italian. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the PCF, explained that the 78 phrases and expressions contained in the lexicon were often used in parliaments and at international meetings in a way which hid their real content and significance. They include "emergency contraception" - which in fact refers to abortifacients - and "reproductive rights" - which is taken to include a so-called right to abortion without any respect for the rights of unborn children. [CNS, 3 April ; SPUC] The Catholic Church in New York State has condemned a bill passed by the state assembly which would authorise the creation of cloned human embryos for research purposes. The language of the bill, as passed, would technically allow the gestation of cloned embryos for up to nine months because the only prohibition is on the birth of cloned babies. Richard E Barnes, executive director of New York State Catholic Conference, said: "This bill is a moral outrage, made worse by the deceptive nature of the arguments in its favour. The sponsors are calling it a 'cloning ban', but in fact the exact opposite is true." [LifeSite, 3 April ] The makers of the Swedish version of the 'Big Brother' television programme have issued contestants with supplies of the abortifacient morning-after pill as well as condoms and pregnancy testing kits. Big Brother, which has versions in many different countries, is a popular game-show in which a group of people are locked away in a house and have their every move monitored by television cameras. [Ananova, 4 April ]

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