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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 26 February 2003

26 February 2003

26 February 2003 The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is participating in a campaign launched by the Irish Crisis Pregnancy Agency (CPA) to provide women who face unplanned pregnancies with information on the alternatives to abortion. Maureen Woods, the USI's welfare officer, said that many Irish college students had abortions in England because they made a panic decision and were not aware of other options, while Olive Braiden, chairperson of the CPA, said that over a third of women who had abortions in Britain did not contact any doctor or agency in Ireland for counselling beforehand. The 'Positive Options' campaign will involve a website as well as leaflets and posters which will be distributed in colleges by the USI. The material will provide contact details for both pro-life and pro-abortion bodies. [Irish Examiner, 26 February ] The English high court ruled this morning that a black man whose sperm was mistakenly used to fertilise a white woman's eggs at an IVF clinic in Leeds is the legal father of the resulting twins. However, Dame Elizabeth Butler Sloss did not award custody of the twins to the father and said that he would have to apply to adopt his children if this was what he wanted. [BBC News online, 26 February ] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "This case highlights the potential for mistakes and mix-ups with IVF treatment, but the very fact that such mix-ups are possible is indicative of the corrupt nature of IVF - a practice which had led to the commodification of human life on a massive scale." The Catholic bishops of Nicaragua have condemned draft legislation to liberalise the country's abortion law. In a statement issued on Monday, the bishops reaffirmed their commitment "to defend the life of the unborn from the moment they are conceived" and demanded that lawmakers refrain from legislating "in favour of crime". Comparing the violence of the abortion procedure with the impact of a bomb on a bus full of passengers, the bishops warned: "If an innocent creature absolutely incapable of defending himself is killed, then robbery, genocide, drug trafficking and terrorism could be irresponsibly justified." [Zenit, 25 February ; Houston Chronicle, 26 February ] It has emerged that the Irish attorney general refused a request to apply the constitutional right to life of the unborn to prevent a home delivery in the case of a breech birth. Dr Declan Keane, master of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, asked Michael McDowell, attorney general at the time, to oblige the pregnant woman in question to have a Caesarean section in hospital rather than give birth at home because a home delivery would put the unborn child's life at risk. It is unclear why Mr McDowell refused the request, although in the event the child was delivered by Caesarean section anyway. [Irish Independent, 26 February] Slovakia and the Vatican are drawing up a bilateral agreement which would ensure that doctors had a right to refuse to carry out abortions. The document dealing with conscientious objection would recognise the rights of Slovak citizens to abstain from participation in abortion, as well as euthanasia and embryo experimentation should they be legalised. Slovakia currently has a liberal abortion law, but the country's constitutional court is due to rule in April whether a clause in the constitution which protects human life extends to the unborn. [LifeSite, 24 February ] Slovakia is one of the 10 countries invited to join the European Union next year. The leader of Roman Catholics in Cuba has criticised the country's alarmingly high abortion rate. Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, archbishop of Havana, issued a pastoral letter on Monday which criticised many aspects of the present regime, including the high abortion rate and the erosion of Cuba's Christian heritage. [EFE, 25 February; via Northern Light ] Cuba has one of the highest abortion rates in the world and is the only Latin American country with a liberal abortion law.

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