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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 March 2003

12 March 2003

12 March 2003 The health minister of the Philippines has proposed a ban on intra-uterine devices (IUDs) because they may cause early abortions. Manuel Dayrit said last week that he was sceptical about claims by proponents of the IUD that it worked by preventing conception rather than by preventing the implantation of a newly conceived embryo. The constitution of the Philippines ensures that the state "shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception" and, accordingly, the morning-after pill was banned in 2001 after experts proved that it could work by preventing implantation. Supporters of the IUD have called on the minister to resign, pointing out that over 434,500 women in the Philippines are currently fitted with an IUD. [The Manila Times, 11 March ; other sources] John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said: "I applaud Mr Dayrit for his honesty and courage in speaking out against the IUD. If women in the developing world, and even in the West, knew about the abortifacient nature of IUDs, many would refuse to have anything to do with them." The Italian health minister has launched an outspoken attack on euthanasia. Speaking at a conference to mark the 25th anniversary of Italy's National Cancer Association, Girolamo Sirchia condemned pro-euthanasia arguments as "falsehoods" and said: "Only a sick mind would think about wanting to take a life." He continued: "No national or international organisation can claim to have the right to take a life for any reason in the world." [AGI online, 11 March ] The US Senate yesterday rejected an attempt to make abortifacient morning-after pills available in hospital emergency rooms for patients who claim to be victims of sexual assault. A procedural amendment to provide funding for increased availability of the drug needed the support of 60 senators, but only 49 voted for it with 47 voting against. The vote came during the second day of debate on proposed legislation to ban so-called partial-birth abortions, which is thought to have a good chance of succeeding. Kate Michelman, head of the pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America, seemed to concede this when she pledged to challenge the law "absolutely, without question" once it had received the President's signature. [AP, via Yahoo! News , and The Charlotte Observer , 12 March] The Irish Labour party has called on the government to fulfil its promise to introduce legislation to regulate abortion following the defeat of its abortion referendum last year. Liz McManus, Labour's health spokesman, asked the government to explain why no bill had been tabled to clarify the legal situation with regard to pregnant women who threatened suicide, or to reduce the number of women who travelled to Britain for abortions. A spokesman for the government said that no decision had yet been made on abortion-related legislation, but that the issue remained under consideration. [Irish Examiner, 12 March] The Irish supreme court ruled in the 1992 X-case that a risk of suicide did constitute grounds for an abortion, but no abortions have been performed in Ireland under the terms of this judgement because there is no statutory provision for it. It was claimed that last year's referendum proposal would have reversed the X-case judgement, but it would also have introduced a statutory framework for legal abortion which could have been applied far more liberally than the X-case judgement ever could be. A woman with dementia in the Australian state of Victoria will probably have her feeding tube removed on Friday after pro-lifers decided not to take the case to the Supreme Court. Earlier this month the state's Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled that the woman's feeding tube could be removed on the basis that assisted feeding constituted medical treatment [see digest for 3 March ], but pro-lifers objected because this would be done with the intention of ending her life by dehydration and starvation. The Right to Life group was given 14 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, but it decided to withdraw from the proceedings yesterday. [Herald Sun, 12 March ] State senators in West Virginia have blocked the appointment of a former Catholic nun to the state's board of medicine because she is a known pro-abortion activist. Pat Hussey, who resigned from the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1988 after a protracted battle with Church authorities over her pro-abortion stand, was nominated to the board last year by Governor Bob Wise. However, pro-lifers warned that she would attempt to block penalties against doctors who refused to co-operate with state restrictions on abortion, and senators responded by voting to block her nomination by 29 votes to five. [The Charleston Gazette, 11 March ]

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