News, 9 June 2003
9 June 2003
9 June 2003 Lord Joffe's bill to legalise euthanasia ran into stiff opposition during a seven-hour debate at the House of Lords on Friday. In keeping with convention, the bill was given its second reading unopposed but it is unlikely to become law. In spite of widespread media support for the bill, it is opposed by peers from all parties and from disability and medical groups such as the British Medical Association, the Disability Rights Commission and Help the Aged. [The Telegraph, 7 June ] Peers on both sides of the debate commented on the overwhelming public response they had received. Pro-euthanasia peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill cited the 'passionate opposition from some quarters'. [Hansard, 6 June ] Aiding and abetting suicide is currently illegal in Britain and carries a jail sentence of up to fourteen years. [Sky News, 6 June ] SPUC political spokesman Anthony Ozimic commented: "It is clear that much lobbying by concerned individuals as well as by Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders played a key role in ensuring that the Bill was strongly opposed during the debate." Poland has voted in a nation-wide referendum to enter the European Union. The electorate came out overwhelmingly in favour of entry after a slow start on the first day of voting. [The Times, 9 June ]. Concerns have been raised about the EU draft constitution, which some fear may render it impossible for member states to legislate on abortion. Lech Kowalewski of Human Life International Poland, warned that even though Polish domestic law protects the unborn, the country had no guarantee from the EU that this would be safeguarded. "We have no protection from the point of view of international law," he said, "All we have is a declaration from our government and parliament that our laws should be respected". [SPUC source] The legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) in Washington, USA, has criticised the publication of 'discredited myths on partial birth abortion' printed by The Guardian newspaper last Friday. In emails sent to both the editor and the journalist concerned, Douglas Johnson exposed the factually inaccurate reporting of this method and its usage in an article 'US abortion ban set stage for court battle' by Suzanne Goldenberg. She claimed that partial birth abortion was 'a last resort used during the final stages of pregnancy when the foetus is fatally malformed' and that it was 'only generally used for hydrocephalic babies'. However, Mr Johnson pointed out that both these assertions were proven to be false as early as 1997, when the director of a major association of abortion clinics admitted that thousands of partial birth abortions were carried out annually and that 'in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus.' He goes on to state that, at the time of this revelation, a number of US newspapers and broadcasters produced articles and programs accepting that earlier claims about partial birth abortion had been false. The Guardian has yet to respond to Mr Johnson's comments.