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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 7 July 2003

7 July 2003

7 July 2003 The Northern Ireland High Court has rejected the Family Planning Association's judicial review on abortion, the BBC reports. The FPA claimed that current abortion law in Northern Ireland is unclear and wanted to force the Department of Health to issue guidelines to doctors on when abortions could be legally carried out. However, Mr Justice Brian Kerr found that the law was perfectly clear. Of the 8000 Northern Ireland women to have travelled to mainland Britain over a five year period, only four would have been eligible for an abortion in Northern Ireland. [BBC, 7 July ] SPUC were interveners in the case and have welcomed the judgement. "The pro-abortion lobby, represented in this case by the Family Planning Association, wants to make abortion widely available in Northern Ireland and claims that the law here is unclear," said Betty Gibson, chairman of SPUC Northern Ireland. "SPUC's case is that the law is perfectly clear. The law on abortion in Northern Ireland gives considerable protection to unborn children which is what the overwhelming majority of people here want." [SPUC press release, 7 July ] Dr James Watson, the Nobel Prize winner who co-discovered DNA, claims that he would have aborted his epileptic son if genetic screening had been available at the time. In an interview to The Age newspaper, he expresses his support for screening out sick children and those with inclinations towards homosexuality in pursuit of 'better children' and compares Catholic Church opposition to embryonic stem cell research to the persecution of Galileo. [The Age, 6 July ] The Dutch Abortion ship run by Women on the Waves has left Polish waters amid a storm of protest, The Telegraph reports. Polish authorities refused the boat permission to enter harbour and fined them when they entered illegally. Customs officials then sealed their stores of abortion pills to prevent them from being distributed. Protestors pursued the boat in a motorboat, a number of mice were released onboard and at the dockside, demonstrators protested against the ship with banners and flags. However, Dr Gomperts, who heads Women on the Waves, said: "we have managed to put the abortion issue back on the political agenda." [The Telegraph, 7 July ] In an article printed in The Sunday Telegraph, the Cardinal of England and Wales, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has attacked Parliament's preoccupation with fox-hunting whilst the abuse of human life in its earliest stages is largely ignored. "Is not the foetus, a human person, more important to us than the fox?" he wrote, "When will we begin to debate the ethics of the future of our species with anything like the passion, and the thoroughness, that we debate the future of our foxes?" Reflecting upon reports last week about the creation of hermaphrodite embryos and the proposal to use the eggs of aborted baby girls in fertility treatment, the Cardinal warned: "we had our wake-up call this week. Dozing through to tomorrow's strange new world just isn't good enough for the human race." [The Sunday Telegraph, 6 July ] A report published in an Australian newspaper suggests that issues such as human cloning and genetic technology are the biggest concerns for the country, particularly within the 18-35 age category. Craig Cormick, manager of public awareness for Biotechnology Australia indicated that recent surveys showed that confidence in genetic technology was poor among the public. "The debate is no longer about science," he said, "the issues for the public are about consultation, regulation, choice and the benefits to the consumer." [The Age, 7 July ] The Peruvian government is promoting safe pregnancy and childbirth rather than population control, according to LifeSite News. Prime Minister Luis Solari and his Health Minister Fernando Carbone have been accused of "pushing their conservative Roman Catholic philosophy by promoting motherhood and cutting off free contraceptives and birth-control information to the poor" in a Newsday report. Carbone has defended the government's position. "We have used helicopters and ambulances, all imaginable means to save lives," he said. "Our aim is to guarantee a safe, secure pregnancy and birth." [LifeSite News, 4 July ] Five frozen embryos stored at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, have become impossible to identify after their labelling tags were broken. As a result, five couples are faced with the dilemma of how to proceed, as consent cannot be given to use them if it is not known to whom they belong. One couple involved have complained that they were not informed about the risks. Dr David Boyle, a consultant gynaecologist at the hospital concerned said: "these things do occasionally happen and at the time we do our best in a sensitive way to explain it to the couple and explain to them what their options are at that point." He added that the hospital would discuss the situation further with the couples concerned and support them in coming to terms with the eventual outcome. [BBC, 4 July ] A BBC panorama programme has exposed the poor regulation of some of Britain's IVF clinics, particularly the failure by the HFEA to expose Paul Fielding's deception of patients. He was jailed earlier in the year for deceiving many of his patients into believing that he had frozen their embryos. He even claimed that he was implanting embryos when he was in fact 'implanting' salt water. In spite of his having no success with frozen embryo transfers for three years, the HFEA failed to act. [BBC, 7 July ] The Making Decisions Alliance have come out in favour of the draft Mental Incapacity Bill which would allow patients to appoint a third party to make decisions for them if they become mentally incapacitated through illness or accident. Among the organisations who form part of the Making Decisions Alliance are Help the Aged, which supports the withdrawal of food and fluids from PVS patients, Age Concern, which supports this measure as well as voluntary euthanasia, and Mencap, which has expressed concerns that allowing the withdrawal of tube-feeding from patients contravenes the Europeans Convention on Human Rights. [The Times, 7 July , SPUC Source] Scientists in Japan and the United States have discovered that mutations of the GATA4 gene are the cause of a common congenital heart defect. Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of death among newborns and it is hoped that through the discovery, the problem could be screened for and corrected before birth. "We cannot change the fact that parents are going to pass along the mutation," said Dr Deepak Srivastava of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, "but we might be able to develop a way to keep the disease from occurring." [Reuters, 6 July ]

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