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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 3 February 2003

3 February 2003

3 February 2003 It is reported that the Polish government's request for a protocol on abortion in its European Union accession treaty has been flatly rejected by the European Commission in Brussels. Poland was one of 10 countries which completed negotiations on EU accession treaties in December, but last week the Polish government requested an additional protocol to safeguard national sovereignty in the area of abortion legislation amid concerns that the absence of such a protocol could lead to a "No" vote in the upcoming referendum on Polish membership of the EU [see digest for 30 January ]. A European Commission official is quoted as saying: "There is absolutely no way the accession terms are being reopened. It just isn't possible. It's a case of take it or leave it." [Warsaw Business Journal, 3 February] The French senate has passed a comprehensive ban on human cloning. The legislation describes human cloning as a crime "against the human species" and imposes a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for transgressors. The legislation will now move to the Assembly, the other chamber of France's national legislature, and could become law by the end of June. Some experts were disappointed that the legislation would allow destructive research on non-cloned embryos to continue, a sentiment shared by pro-life bodies such as SPUC, while pro-cloning experts tried to claim that so-called therapeutic cloning should not be classified as cloning at all. [CNSNews, 31 January ] All human cloning is reproductive insofar as a new and distinct human person is created in every case. Pope John Paul II used his weekly Angelus address yesterday to warn against the devaluing of human life by modern technology. Addressing thousands of people in St Peter's Square in Rome, the Pope observed that the Catholic Church in Italy was marking its annual Pro-Life Day under the theme: "You cannot trade with life." The Pope went on to say that a "certain commercial logic, allied to modern technology" was taking advantage of the human desire to have children, even at any cost, but insisted: "In reality, human life can never become an object: from conception until natural death, the human being is the subject of inviolable rights, before which freedom must be restricted." [Zenit, 2 February ] A senior official at the Iranian health ministry has estimated that nine percent of all pregnancies in the country end in secret, illegal abortions. Hossein Malek Afzali, the deputy health minister, estimated that 80,000 clandestine abortions took place in Iran each year, mostly after illegal pre-marital or extra-marital sex. It has been reported that municipal workers in the capital Tehran discover dozens of dead babies and foetuses in waste dumps every month. [AFP, via IranMania News, 3 February ] Unsubstantiated and inflated reports of illegal abortion rates are a common ploy of pro-abortionists in their bid to persuade legislators that legalisation is the only way to make safe an already common procedure. A nurse has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a French court for assisting or causing the deaths of six terminally ill patients. Christine Malèvre originally claimed to have helped 30 sick patients to die, but later confessed to involvement in only four deaths. Ms Malèvre has been dubbed the French "Madonna of Euthanasia" and her case is said to have rekindled the debate over euthanasia in France. However, several of the victims' families have denied that their relatives asked to die and have attacked the leniency of the sentence. A lawyer representing the families of three victims said: "If Christine Malèvre had been tried for killing seven people in good health, we'd be far from 10 years and closer to life in prison." [BBC News online, 31 January ] The supreme court of South Carolina has ruled that an unborn child who could survive outside the womb is a legal person under state laws on child abuse and neglect. The justices voted by three to two last week to uphold the homicide conviction of Regina McKnight in 2001 for killing her unborn child by smoking crack cocaine throughout pregnancy [see digest for 18 May 2001 ]. Two dissenting justices expressed concern that the woman's sentence of 12 years in prison was far more severe than sentences handed down to women convicted of illegal late-term abortions. Pro-lifers, such as Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, welcomed the implications of the judgement for the rights of unborn children under the law. [CNSNews, 3 February ]

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