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News, 17 March 2003

17 March 2003

17 March 2003 Legislation to legalise euthanasia has been proposed in China. 32 members of the National People's Congress presented a motion last week calling for so-called mercy killing to be legalised, with pilot laws to be introduced first in Beijing and Shanghai. However, legal and political experts within China have warned against the move. [AFP, 14 March; via Pro-Life E-News] A pro-lifer has been elected to replace the pro-abortion Lord Jenkins of Hillhead as chancellor of Oxford University. Graduates and academic staff of the world-famous academic institution voted over the weekend to select Chris Patten as the new university chancellor, an office which dates back to the thirteenth century. Chris Patten is currently a European Union commissioner, but during his time in the British House of Commons between 1979 and 1992 he had an unblemished pro-life voting record. He is also a practising Catholic. Lord Jenkins, who died in January, was the home secretary who oversaw the legalisation of abortion in 1967. [University of Oxford news release and SPUC, 17 March] It has been revealed that two teenagers in the care of the Irish State have been taken to Britain to have abortions over the past year. The East Coast Area Health Board and the South Eastern Health Board each secured court orders for a teenager in their care to be taken to Britain for an abortion, although the exact grounds on which the abortions were sanctioned have not been revealed. Under the 1992 X-case judgement of the Irish supreme court, abortion can be sanctioned if there is considered to be a substantial threat to the mother's life, including from suicide. The people of Ireland voted in favour of a right to travel abroad for abortion in a referendum in 1992. [Irish Examiner, 17 March] Researchers in the US have found that stem cells extracted from bone marrow could be used to treat diabetes. A team at the New York University School of Medicine transplanted genetically modified bone marrow cells from male mice into female mice whose bone marrow had been destroyed by radiation, and found that the cells had apparently converted into functioning pancreatic beta cells producing insulin within four to six weeks. Researchers hope that the same results could be achieved in humans. [BBC News online, 15 March ] Evidence of the therapeutic potential of adult stem cell technology, which is an ethical alternative to the use of embryos and so-called therapeutic cloning, continues to mount. The 47th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women broke up last week without agreement on controversial abortion-related issues. During negotiations on a document about violence against women, pro-abortion delegates, especially from the European Union, had been trying to resist any definition of "forced pregnancy" which did not include a denial of access to abortion. Peter Smith, SPUC's chief administrative officer at the UN, said: "In all my eight years of attending UN meetings, I have never experienced such an abuse of proceedings to suit the pro-abortion lobby. Every rule in the book was broken in order to force through pro-abortion wording, but the meeting ran on so long that all the translators went home and the meeting had to be adjourned until a later date. The pro-life Iranian delegate was a major player in resisting the pro-abortion agenda." [SPUC, 17 March] Correction: According to an item in last Friday's news digest, the legislation passed by the US Senate to ban partial-birth abortion defines the procedure as the killing of a foetus "whose entire head is outside the mother's body". This was in error - please accept our apologies. In fact, the legislation defines the procedure in Section 2 as "an abortion in which a physician delivers an unborn child's body until only the head remains inside the womb, punctures the back of the child's skull with a sharp instrument, and sucks the child's brains out before completing delivery of the dead infant." The bill describes this as "a gruesome and inhumane procedure", but goes on to endorse the Roe v Wade judgement which declared a constitutional right to abortion. [Text of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, as passed by the Senate ]

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