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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 February 2003

6 February 2003

6 February 2003 Marie Stopes International (MSI), a major promoter and provider of abortion, is using its influential position at the European parliament to campaign against Poland's restrictive abortion law. Martha Roussou, who works for the secretariat which MSI provides for the European parliament's all-party working group on population, sustainable development and reproductive health, has written to all supportive members of the parliament asking them to sign a letter addressed to the Polish president, Aleksander Kwasniewski. The letter, which appears to be an initiative of Catholics for a Free Choice and the Polish Federation of Women and Family Planning, expresses "grave concern" about the president's recent statement in support of Poland's abortion law, describes the present law as "inadequate in its protection of women", and claims [erroneously] that Catholic teaching on abortion is equivocal and that Catholic politicians should support access to safe abortion. The letter also makes unsubstantiated claims about the number of unsafe, illegal abortions in Poland, and suggests that Poland is committed to address this problem on account of its future membership of the European Union. [SPUC, 6 February] A bill to ban human cloning for reproductive purposes while allowing so-called therapeutic cloning has been introduced in the US Senate. The bill, which has been sponsored by senators of both main parties and has the support of 40 Nobel prize-winners, is a direct rival to the comprehensive cloning ban introduced by Senator Sam Brownback last week. Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican who had previously been thought of as a pro-lifer, has surprised colleagues by announcing his support for so-called therapeutic cloning on the basis that "human life requires and begins in a mother's womb". President Bush is known to support Senator Brownback's bill, which is identical to a bill introduced last month in the House of Representatives. [ABC News, 5 February ; BBC News online, 6 February ] The pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Rotary International (RI) have renewed their commitment to work together on population and development issues around the world. Thoraya Obaid, UNFPA's executive director, welcomed the renewal of the 'Memorandum of Co-operation', saying: "We cannot confront the massive challenges of poverty, hunger, disease and environmental destruction unless we address issues of population and reproductive health." [UNFPA press release, 5 February] UNFPA promotes abortion and is even involved in coercive abortion programmes. RI is a voluntary organisation which provides "humanitarian service" in 160 countries through 30,000 Rotary clubs. Senators in Montana voted by 28 to 22 yesterday in favour of amending the state's constitution to declare that the state has a "compelling interest" in the life of the unborn. The bill had been proposed in response to several state supreme court decisions which interpreted the constitutional right to privacy as being incompatible with state laws on abortion in the areas of parental notification and informed consent. The bill will now go to the state House of Representatives, and would be put to the people in a referendum if 72 of the 100 members voted in favour. [Helena Independent Record and Pro-Life Infonet, 5 February] The Catholic bishop of Sacramento in California has reiterated his criticism of the state governor's support for abortion. Bishop William K Weigand said in a homily last month that pro-abortion Catholic politicians, such as Governor Gray Davis, should abstain from receiving communion until they had a change of heart and accepted Church teaching [see digest for 23 January ]. After the homily, Bishop Weigand received hundreds of letters and emails congratulating him on his stance. The bishop has explained that his concern was primarily for the Catholics "who could so easily be led astray by the governor's stance in favour of abortion" and to reject the impression that support for abortion and adherence to the Catholic faith were compatible. Catholic bishops in California have repeatedly asked for a meeting with Governor Davis to explain Church teaching on life issues, but to no avail. [CNS, 5 February ]

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