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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 20 January 2003

20 January 2003

20 January 2003 A terminally ill British man ended his life in Switzerland this afternoon in an assisted suicide. 74-year old Reginald Crew from Liverpool, who had motor neurone disease, is thought to be one of the first UK citizens to kill himself with the help of an assisted suicide group based in Zurich. SPUC expressed concern that the Crew family may have been advised by an English group in favour of legalising the killing of elderly and disabled people. Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said that, if this was the case, then the group could stand in breach of the 1961 Suicide Act which forbids assisting suicide. SPUC plans to raise this matter with the Director of Public Prosecutions. Mr Tully also criticised the makers of a television documentary on assisted suicide screened last year. He said: "In this case, by publicising the details of the groups involved, the media is promoting death for elderly and disabled people and should be held to account." [BBC News online and SPUC , 20 January] England's largest private abortion provider is hoping to open its first abortion clinic in Scotland. Ian Jones, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), claimed that women in Scotland usually had to travel to England for abortions after 15 weeks' gestation, and said that his organisation wanted to meet the demand for late abortions by opening an abortion clinic in the grounds of a Scottish NHS hospital. Mr Jones observed that it was "disgraceful" that abortions were not available in Scotland because Scottish doctors and nurses could "pick and choose" which procedures to provide, and added: "...if these doctors do not want to treat women for a late abortion then we do not want them treating women." [Sunday Herald, 19 January ] BPAS operates 12 clinics in England, but no private abortion clinics currently operate in Scotland. Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks' gestation effectively on demand, and up to birth in some cases, throughout Great Britain. Slovakia's constitutional court is to rule on whether all abortions should be banned. A group of national legislators, mainly from the Christian Democratic party, has asked the court to throw out the country's abortion law on the basis that the constitution protects all human life both before and after birth. Under Slovakia's current law, abortion is legal up to the 12th week of pregnancy, although the total number of recorded abortions has fallen from nearly 50,000 in 1989 to 16,000 in 2001. The court is expected to take several months before delivering its verdict. [Slovak Spectator International Weekly, 20 January ] Slovakia is one of the countries invited to join the European Union next year. The president of Poland has expressed his opposition to any liberalisation of the country's abortion law. President Aleksander Kwasniewski made his comments in response to a proposal for a referendum on abortion from the leader of the governing Social Democratic party (SLD). The SLD, which was once headed by President Kwasniewski, promised to liberalise the law on abortion during the 2001 general election campaign. [BBC News online, 18 January ] Polish abortions have fallen from 105,000 in 1988 to around 138 in 2000. A restrictive law was introduced in 1993. After four postponements, the European parliament's development committee is finally expected to vote on the Sandbæk report tomorrow. The report constitutes the parliament's contribution to the new regulation governing EU overseas aid policy for the next five years. Pro-lifers are urging members of the committee to support amendments 10 and 46 (Dover-Hannan) which would ensure that EU aid could not be used to provide abortions, and also to vote against the whole report. If 4 MEPs vote against the report at the committee stage, the full parliament would have the opportunity to vote again on amendments 10 and 46. [Euro-Fam , 21 January] A top British fertility expert has condemned the Catholic archbishop of Glasgow for criticising in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Professor Robert Winston complained that Archbishop Mario Conti had damaged the reputation of scientists by suggesting that the acceptance of IVF had paved the way for human cloning [see digest for 13 January ]. Lord Winston, a pro-abortionist and IVF pioneer, condemned Archbishop Conti's "virulent objection to IVF" and said: "Does not the archbishop recognise that the highly moral practice of IVF ... has resulted in around a million new human souls being born worldwide?" [This is London, 19 January ] The IVF procedure takes a terrible toll on the lives of those unborn babies created by it, and only a tiny minority are born alive. The advent of IVF has also led to a commodification and de-valuing of early human life on a massive scale. One of the candidates for the US Democratic party's presidential nomination has publicly rejected the Vatican's insistence that Catholic politicians must oppose abortion. Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts said that "as a Catholic" he had "enormous respect for the words and teachings of the Vatican", but rejected the guidelines on participation of Catholics in political life released last week [see digest for 17 January ] because he believed that to "represent all the people" he could not be bound by Church doctrine. [AP, via The Omaha Channel, 16 January ]

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