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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 February 2003

4 February 2003

4 February 2003 Couples in the north-east of England hoping for free IVF fertility treatment on the National Health Service (NHS) have been told that that they face an eight-year waiting list and will be removed from the list at the age of 40. The announcement means that women aged over 33 are unlikely to be able to conceive IVF babies on the NHS and will have to use private clinics. About 20,000 couples now undergo IVF treatment every year in Britain, mostly at private clinics. [Telegraph online, 2 February] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "It is a sad reflection on the state of modern society that rights have replaced responsibilities in the area of reproduction. On the one hand there is a perceived right to avoid giving birth to a child by having an abortion, and on the other hand there is a perceived right to become pregnant at all costs. This attitude is immensely costly in human life because both abortion and IVF treatment lead to the deaths of many thousands of babies in Britain each year." Last Saturday was the sixth anniversary of legal abortion on demand in South Africa. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, which came into effect on 1 February 1996, allowed abortion on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy for women over 16, and up to the 20th week of pregnancy in some cases. Christians for Truth, a South African pro-life group, is considering action against a newspaper in KwaZulu-Natal which refused to publish its advertisement marking the anniversary. The advertisement claimed that 265,398 unborn babies had lost their lives "in the six-year holocaust of legal abortions on demand". [iafrica.com, 4 February ] An investigation has found that British doctors are failing to diagnose foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in children. FAS is caused by excessive maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and manifests itself in a variety of symptoms such as behavioural and learning problems and stunted physical development later in life. A survey of members of the Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Trust conducted by the BBC's Newsnight programme found that a quarter had waited more than a year to get a diagnosis of FAS. [BBC News online, 4 February ] Marie Stopes International (MSI), an international promoter and provider of abortion based in London, is utilising humour in a new advertising campaign to promote birth control methods, including the abortifacient morning-after pill. Posters aimed at young people feature cartoon characters Wilbert Willy and Elsie Egg. [MSI release, 4 February] John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, observed: "The morning-after pill is not a laughing matter because it endangers the health of those who take it and can work by causing an early abortion. Sir Liam Donaldson, the government's Chief Medical Officer, has told all doctors to be extra vigilant about the morning-after pill because it is associated with a higher rate of ectopic pregnancy." The managers of the bookstore at the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington DC have cancelled the appearance of a pro-abortion congresswoman after students objected. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's non-voting representative in Congress, had been due to sign copies of her new book at CUA tomorrow, but pro-life students complained and the bookstore's manager cancelled the event. CUA policy states that administrators may block speakers "who advocate policies counter to Church teaching". [Washington Post, 3 February ]

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