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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 March 2003

11 March 2003

11 March 2003 A four-part blood-test is proving more accurate than other methods for detecting unborn children who have Down's syndrome. Researchers from the Barts and London medical school found that the tests were successful in detecting the condition in more than 80% of instances. Other methods prove less effective, and blood-tests avoid the risk of miscarriage caused by amniocentesis. [Lancet, on BBC news online, 10 March ] Mr Robin Haig, national chairman of SPUC, said: "The whole idea of seeking out developmental anomalies in unborn children with a view to possible aborting them is repugnant. Detection before birth of such conditions as Down's syndrome inevitably leads to pressure on women to have abortions. The priority should be the provision of care and support for women and babies before and after birth. People with Down's syndrome are as much valued and loved, and are entitled to have their lives protected at least as much, as all other human beings." A baby who was born four months premature is in a "stable and satisfactory" condition in a South African hospital after he survived a botched abortion attempt and was found abandoned on the back seat of a car weighing only 1.1 kilograms. His mother and the alleged abortionist have both been charged with attempted murder because the child was considered viable, but if he had weighed 100 grams less, he would not have been considered a person under South African common law and would not have received life-saving medical treatment. In that case, the only charges that could have been brought against either the mother or the alleged abortionist would have been for contravening the 1996 abortion law. [The Star, 10 and 11 March; via IOL] It is reported that opening of the first abortion clinic for teenagers in China has roused heated public debate. The clinic opened in south-western Chongqing [one of China's most populous cities] last month and provides so-called emergency contraception and free abortions. However, critics have accused the clinic of encouraging young people to engage in irresponsible sexual activity. [The Australian, 11 March ] The reported furore over this clinic is surprising because abortion, including coerced abortion, is rife in China and is encouraged under the one-child family policy. Nevertheless, it seems that teenage sex outside marriage remains taboo. A member of New Zealand's parliament who is a former geriatrician has pledged to fight any changes to the law on euthanasia. Dr Lynda Scott [health and senior citizens spokesperson for the National party] said that she would be lobbying against a private member's bill seeking to hold a referendum on euthanasia which is presently before legislators. Dr Scott said that euthanasia was a line that should not be crossed, and that more should be done for the terminally ill to improve pain management and treat depression. [XtraMSN, 10 March ]

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