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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 29 January 2003

29 January 2003

29 January 2003 The Catholic bishops of France have urged legislators to respect the status of the human embryo as they debate a draft law on bioethics. The legislation as it currently stands would permit the creation of human embryos for the purposes of experimentation, a provision which the bishops describe as "lamentable" and urge parliament to reject. The call was made in a statement, written by Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux in his capacity as president of the bishops' conference, entitled: "There are no exceptions to the respect due to the human embryo". The statement observes that the draft law would reduce embryos "to the rank of objects", and that this would be "a grave transgression". [Zenit, 28 January ] The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints against leaflets produced by an anti-abortion group. The ASA told the UK Life League to stop distributing the leaflets, which feature pictures of aborted babies, as they were likely to cause serious offence. The UK Life League has defended the leaflets, saying that they were intended to shock. [BBC News online, 29 January ] The English high court ruled in March last year that the Pro-Life Alliance had the right to show photographs of aborted babies in its party election broadcasts [see digest for 14 March 2002 ]. The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have said that the government should remove all abortifacient drugs and devices from the market to prevent "silent abortions" caused by "silent abortifacients". Speaking at the bishops' 86th plenary assembly on Monday, Bishop Teodoro Bacani of Novaliches asked the government to prepare a list of drugs which either prevented the implantation of an embryo in the womb or displaced an embryo after implantation had taken place. The bishop also demanded that the government publish an official study prepared during the previous administration which reportedly supported the Church's claim that drugs commonly thought to be contraceptives and intra-uterine devices were actually abortifacients. [The Philippine Star, 29 January ] US President Bush again asked Congress to pass legislation to ban partial-birth abortions and human cloning for all purposes in his State of the Union address last night. The President spoke of building "a culture that values every life" and went on to say: "And in this work we must not overlook the weakest among us. I ask you to protect infants at the very hour of their birth and end the practice of partial-birth abortion. And because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity, and pass a law against all human cloning." [White House website, 28 January ] A woman who has admitted to shooting dead her two terminally ill sons is hoping to avoid murder charges in the American state of Georgia by pleading guilty to breaking a little-used assisted suicide law. Carol Carr, whose sons were both in their early 40s and were suffering from Huntington's disease, will only face five years in prison if her plea is accepted by the court. Her attorney said: "What she did was illegal, but also what she did was moral - she stopped the suffering of these children." [Guardian, 29 January] The provincial government of Ontario is providing 177,800 Canadian dollars [about £71,000] to the pro-euthanasia 'Dying with Dignity' group, which has been associated with the promotion of suicide. LifeSite, a Canadian pro-life news service, reports that the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the ministry of culture, is providing the money over three years for the creation of a pilot counselling programme in Toronto. Counselling to commit suicide is illegal in Canada. [LifeSite, 28 January ] Four separate measures aimed at restricting access to abortion have been overwhelmingly approved by a committee of state legislators in Virginia and have been sent to the floor of the full House. The measures would require parental consent before a girl under 18 could have an abortion, ban the killing of babies who are only partially born, remove a provision which allows third trimester abortions for mental health reasons, and allow pharmacists, doctors and other health professionals to refuse to dispense abortifacient drugs. It is thought that the bills stand a good chance of success following gains by candidates with pro-life views in the recent elections. [Daily Press, 27 January ; Fredericksburg Free-Lance Press, via Pro-Life Infonet , 27 January]

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