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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 19 February 2003

19 February 2003

19 February 2003 A coalition of about 20 organisations in the UK, including charities such as Mencap and Age Concern, has formed a new group called the Making Decisions Alliance (MDA) to campaign for new legislation on the treatment of mentally incapacitated adults in England and Wales. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's 'You and Yours' programme today, a spokesman for the MDA explained that they would be pushing for the carers of mentally incapacitated adults to have a right to be consulted on a patient's treatment, and for adults to be allowed to make legally binding advance statements specifying how they should be treated if they became incapacitated. Rosie Winterton, a government minister in the Lord Chancellor's department, told the programme that work was already underway on the drafting of a mental incapacity bill, but that a twin-track approach would be adopted whereby groups such as the MDA would be consulted on a code of practice to accompany the legislation. [BBC Radio 4, 19 February] Pro-lifers are concerned that such legislation could open the door to legalised euthanasia. Pope John Paul II has said that abortion and the contraceptive mentality are among the factors which are leading to the breakdown of the family and the spread of AIDS in Africa. Addressing bishops from The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the Vatican, the Pope said: "A fundamental element of African culture and civilisation has always been the family ... a genuine Gospel of life and hope for humanity. Unfortunately this Gospel of life, the source of hope and stability, is being threatened in your countries by widespread polygamy, divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraceptive mentality. These same factors contribute to irresponsible and immoral sexual activity leading to the spread of AIDS, a pandemic which cannot be ignored." [Zenit, 18 February ] Pro-lifers in South America have warned that the case of a pregnant nine-year old rape victim in Nicaragua [see digest for 17 February ] is being exploited by campaigners for the legalisation of abortion. The parents of the girl, who is now 15 weeks pregnant, are asking the government to sanction an abortion, and she was admitted to a hospital yesterday for medical evaluation as a committee of experts decides whether an abortion would be lawful. The leader of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo of Managua, has said that every effort should be made to save both the mother and her unborn child, and has insisted that the Church considers abortion to be murder. Meanwhile, the executive secretary of a Nicaraguan feminist group has threatened to sue the government in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights if it decides to refuse the abortion. [Agencia EFE, via Northern Light , and LifeSite, 18 February ] Members of the pro-life European Youth Alliance (EYA) have sent a card to all members of the European parliament mourning the death of Matilda, Australia's first cloned sheep. Matilda's sudden demise left scientists puzzled because she had displayed no previous signs of illness. The news of Matilda's death comes after last week's announcement that Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal, had died in Scotland. In a clear reference to the dangers inherent in all cloning procedures, the EYA's card made the point that the technique used to clone Dolly and Matilda is the same as that which would be used to clone humans for both reproductive and so-called therapeutic purposes. [EYA, 19 February] The Health Professions Council of South Africa is asking that a lifetime ban imposed on a doctor who failed to complete an abortion on his girlfriend after at least 12 attempts over a period of 2 months be reinstated. A high court judge ruled in November that Dr Dewald de Bruin's lifetime ban should be reduced to a suspension of only three months. After Dr de Bruin's final botched abortion attempt, his girlfriend was taken home and had to pull out part of the dead baby herself. [The Star, South Africa, 19 February ] As feminists across the US marked the 183rd birthday of Susan B Anthony last Saturday, pro-lifers pointed out that she was a staunch pro-life activist as well as a leading figure in the women's suffrage movement. Susan B Anthony wrote in 1869: "I deplore the horrible crime of child murder... No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed." [CNSNews, 17 February ]

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