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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 24 July 2003

24 July 2003

24 July 2003 British parliamentarians have criticised state health care for expectant mothers. The House of Commons health committee yesterday reported that babies were being delivered by caesarian section without their mothers' being able to make an informed choice. Most women who wanted to give birth at home did not get the opportunity to do so. Smaller maternity units were being closed and there were shortages of midwives and experienced obstetricians. The committee also expressed concern at higher maternal mortality among the socially deprived and the lack of mother-and-baby units to treat severe postnatal mental problems. Most of the committee's members belong to the governing Labour party. [Guardian, 24 July ] President Rudolf Schuster of Slovakia has vetoed a bill to allow abortion on the grounds of genetic anomaly up to 24 weeks. Two weeks ago we reported how the president had refused to approve the bill without the signatures of the parliament's speaker and his deputy. They said they would not sign. Disputes about the bill threaten the ruling coalition and have led to problems with the currency. Christian democrats have been among the bill's opponents. Parliament could debate the measure again in September. [Reuters, 23 July ] Some of the £2.35 million raised by a company operating in Australia and Scotland will reportedly be spent on research on cloned human embryos. Funding for Stem Cell Sciences has come from Archangels, BioTech Capital and Scottish Enterprise. There was talk of the company's doing its work with embryos only in Scotland after Australia threatened a ban. [Scotsman, 24 July ] Two mothers are today expected to appeal against a judge's ruling that their daughters aged four years and 10 years should have the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination. [BBC, 24 July ] While it does not appear that the objections to the girls' having the injections are based on worries about how the vaccine is produced, pro-life parents are concerned that some MMR vaccines are developed with tissue from aborted babies. In our report on the judgement in this case last month , we also pointed out that Mr Justice Sumner made his decision based on his view of the children's best interests, not their wishes nor those of their parents. The children's fathers want them to be inoculated. The identities of those concerned, who are in Britain, are being kept secret. British physicians want health warnings on alcoholic drinks which could mention the risk of damage to the unborn. Some 600 doctors, many of them liver-specialists, delivered a petition to the prime minister's official home yesterday. If the warnings are introduced and resemble those on packaging in America, they would mention the dangers of drinking in pregnancy. [Femail, 24 July ] An advertising agency in the north-east of England has won an award for an advertisement which warns of the dangers of smoking in pregnancy. The ad, by the Different company of Newcastle, shows cigarette smoke in the shape of an unborn child with the caption "If you smoke when you're pregnant, so does your baby." It is part of a government campaign to cut the number of expectant mothers who smoke by a third. Different gained one of the Campaign Direct awards. [Evening Chronicle, 23 July ]

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