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News, 14 February 2003

14 February 2003

14 February 2003 The Catholic bishops of Europe have expressed deep concern over the pro-abortion Sandbæk report which was passed by the European parliament yesterday. In a statement released by the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) based in Brussels, the bishops say that "development policy should promote an integrated vision of the dignity of the human person" and that the Sandbæk report "represents a shift away from this integral vision towards a predominant focus on an individual's 'sexual and reproductive rights'". The bishops believe that the report will not allow EU funding of incentives to encourage abortion, but are "deeply concerned" that "the actual provision of abortion services will not be excluded" and that funds from the EU budget might be used for this purpose. [Zenit, 13 February ] SPUC has expressed disquiet at a decision by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to back the 'Red Nose Day' fundraising event of Comic Relief, a charity which has provided grants to abortion promoters overseas. The bishops have stood by a statement they issued two years ago before the last Red Nose Day in which they declared themselves satisfied by assurances from Comic Relief that no money raised would go towards the provision or promotion of abortion. However, Comic Relief's accounts reveal that a number of grants were made to pro-abortion groups after the 2001 Red Nose Day, including £24,000 to Population Concern, an organisation which promotes abortion in the developing world. This year's Red Nose Day is scheduled for 14 March. [Catholic Herald, 14 February] The Maltese government has insisted that Malta will not be obliged to legalise abortion if it joins the European Union. In response to comments made by an opposition member of parliament, the department of information issued a statement reiterating the government's position that the protocol on abortion negotiated as part of Malta's EU accession package which affirms Maltese national sovereignty in the area of abortion legislation is legally binding. The government's statement contrasted Malta's legally binding protocol with the simple declaration which formed part of Poland's agreement with the EU. [Malta Media, 13 February ] Republican members of the US House of Representatives hope that new federal legislation to ban partial-birth abortions will be passed before Easter. Steve Chabot, the measure's sponsor, said: "It's time for Congress to act and place this bill in front of the president so that we can finally end this national tragedy." However, the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights has claimed that the measure is unconstitutional and is prepared to challenge it in the courts. Congress passed partial-birth abortion bans in 1996 and again in 1997, but both were vetoed by President Clinton. [Houston Chronicle, 13 February ]

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