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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 February 2003

17 February 2003

17 February 2003 It is reported that British medical schools have started to restrict the number of Muslim students because they refuse to learn about abortion. The proportion of medical students from ethnic minorities in Britain has risen from 10 percent to 33 percent over the last 20 years, and the Council of Heads of Medical Schools has expressed concern that tutors are now unable to teach the full syllabus on account of the refusal of Muslim students to participate in certain courses which run counter to their faith. Research indicates that student intake is now being manipulated so that white applicants are more than twice as likely to be accepted as their non-white counterparts. [The Times, 17 February] Dr A Majid Katme, SPUC's Muslim co-ordinator, observed: "The reported discrimination against pro-life Muslim medical students and doctors is outrageous, and demonstrates the extent to which respect for fundamental medical ethics in Britain has declined. 40 years ago the British medical establishment espoused strongly pro-life values, but today it has fallen to the Muslim and Christian students, who share a belief in the sanctity of human life, to repair the damage done by 35 years of legal abortion. All doctors are trained to protect and save life, and we all have the right to practise our faith. We Muslims intend to continue doing just that." Fresh concerns have been raised about the safety of human cloning after the premature death of Dolly the sheep. The Roslin Institute in Scotland announced on Friday that Dolly, the world's first cloned adult mammal, had been put down after she developed a lung infection. It remains unclear whether Dolly's premature death was linked to flaws in the cloning process, but the results of post mortem examinations are eagerly awaited by scientists amid concerns that cloned animals age prematurely. Pro-lifers observed that Dolly's many health problems and premature death proved that cloning was dangerous and impractical. [BBC News online, 14 February ; Observer, 16 February ] The case of a pregnant nine-year-old rape victim in Nicaragua has stirred a debate on the laws and ethics of abortion. The child, who was raped in neighbouring Costa Rica, returned to Nicaragua with her parents last Thursday after two Costa Rican hospitals refused to perform an abortion because she was already four months pregnant. Now Nicaragua's special prosecutor for crimes against children has asked the government to appoint a special committee of experts to determine whether an abortion can be carried out on the basis that the mother's life is at risk. However, several experts have insisted that the abortion cannot be justified under the law because the girl has an 85 percent chance of surviving childbirth. [Agencia EFE, 14 February; via Northern Light ] Costa Rica and Nicaragua both have pro-life constitutions. The Evangelical Methodist church of Uruguay (IEMU) has contributed to a national debate on abortion by stating that women should have the "right to choose" in extreme situations. The lower house of Uruguay's national legislature has already passed a bill to allow abortion up to 12 weeks' gestation and, if the bill became law, it would make Uruguay the first South American country to decriminalise the procedure. As members of the Senate prepare to debate the measure, the IEMU issued a statement declaring that life was gift from God and that abortion should not be condoned, but that women should be allowed abortions in certain circumstances. It was reported in December that President Jorge Batlle would veto the bill. [Worldwide Faith News, 16 February ; also see news digest for 13 December 2002 ] A British newspaper has estimated that sex-selective abortion and infanticide in India has resulted in a current national shortfall of around 40 million women. Initial results from India's 2001 census are reported to indicate that there are now 107.8 boys for every 100 girls among the under-sevens, up from 105.8 boys to 100 girls in 1991. The BBC reports that an Indian government crack-down on sex selective abortion is running into trouble because it is hard to prove that equipment used to scan unborn babies for "abnormalities" is also being used for sex determination. [Zenit and BBC News online, 15 February ] The White House has confirmed that social service agencies in Africa and the Caribbean will be able to receive some of the $15 billion US aid budget for HIV and AIDS relief even if they also promote and provide abortions. Under the Mexico City policy, no international organisation which either promotes or provides abortion overseas can receive US aid, but a senior White House official said last week that an exception was being made for AIDS treatment "as long as none of the funds are used for family planning purposes or for abortions". Pro-abortionists were angry that recipients of US funding would not be allowed to combine their family planning operations with their AIDS relief work, but the National Right to Life Committee welcomed the US decision as a "positive step" because no US money would be used to encourage women infected with HIV to have abortions. [San Francisco Chronicle, 15 February ; ABC News, 16 February ]

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