News, 15 January 2003
15 January 2003
15 January 2003 The European Union confirmed today that €50 million (about £33 million) has been diverted from the EU's fisheries budget to Marie Stopes International (MSI), a worldwide promoter and provider of abortion. Mrs Dana Rosemary Scallon, a prominent pro-life member of the European parliament from Ireland, revealed the news in a statement from Strasbourg this afternoon. She had already alerted Mr Struan Stevenson, chairman of the EU fisheries committee, to the information, and he expressed deep concern after receiving confirmation from an official at the EU's fisheries secretariat. Dana described the diversion of funds to MSI as "totally unacceptable" and said: "At a time when our fishermen are facing severe economic hardship and suffering financial loss, there are serious questions to be answered." [Dana media release, 15 January] US President George W Bush has declared next Sunday to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day. In a message released yesterday, President Bush said that the occasion would be an opportunity "to reaffirm our commitment to respecting the life and dignity of every human being". Describing unborn children as "those without the voice and power to defend their own rights", the president cited his administration's efforts to promote "compassionate alternatives" to abortion and stated: "Every child is a priority and a blessing and I believe that all should be welcomed in life and protected by law. Through ethical policies and the compassion of Americans, we will continue to build a culture that respects life." [AP, via Northern Light and the Charlotte Observer , 14 and 15 January] Researchers at an American pro-abortion institute have claimed that the number of partial-birth or dilation and extraction abortions performed in the US tripled between 1996 and 2000. The report on abortion trends released this week by the Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that 2,200 such abortions were performed in 2000, compared to 650 in 1996. The report also claims that 37,000 abortions (about 6% of the total) were performed by way of drugs such as RU-486 during the first half of 2001. However, pro-lifers reacted cautiously to the estimates. Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, said that the wording of the survey's questionnaire, and the fact that information was collected voluntarily, meant that there were probably far more partial-birth abortions than estimated in the report. [Washington Times, 14 January; AP via Northern Light, 15 January ] The new Republican majority leader in the US Senate has said that he will work towards a ban on partial-birth abortion and a comprehensive ban on human cloning. Senator Bill Frist described partial-birth abortion as "an abhorrent, abhorrent procedure that offends the civil sensibilities of ... just about every American" and said that he "absolutely" supported legislation to ban cloning for all purposes. [NBC and Fox News, 12 January; via Pro-Life Infonet ] Correction: The Associated Press news agency has issued a correction regarding reports that a court in Florida had ordered a vice-president of Clonaid to reveal the whereabouts of the first alleged cloned baby [see digest for 13 January ]. It appears that Clonaid has not yet been ordered to disclose any information, but that the company may be asked about the alleged birth in a hearing on 22 January. [ABC News, 12 January ] Many experts have rejected Clonaid's claims to have produced born-alive cloned babies, and there has been no independent corroboration of the claims.