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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 18 March 2003

18 March 2003

18 March 2003 The foreign affairs committee of the British House of Commons has today renewed its criticism of the government's response to human rights violations in China, including the "often brutal enforcement of China's one-child policy". In its response to the Foreign Office annual report for 2002, the committee notes that the government's "current strategy appears to be yielding few tangible results". Amnesty International has also published a submission which calls on China to ensure that there is no impunity for human rights violations, including the failure of the Chinese authorities to punish population control officials who "resort to violence, torture and ill-treatment, including physically coerced abortions and sterilisation". The British government continues to fund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite this agency's well-documented involvement in China's coercive abortion programmes. [SPUC media release, 18 March ] It is reported that the number of abortifacient morning-after pills used in Finland quadrupled last year, while the registered abortion rate remained virtually unchanged. About 36,000 packs of Norlevo morning-after pills were sold last year after the drug became available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription, four times the number provided in 2001 when a prescription was still required. The overall recorded abortion rate in Finland of about 10,000 per year has remained steady for several years, although the number of abortions performed on girls aged under 15 last year was three times higher than in 1995. [Helsingin Sanomat, 17 March ] Researchers have made a discovery that may enable doctors to detect genetic anomalies in unborn babies simply by conducting a blood test on the mother. A team at the Chinese University of Hong Kong has found a way of testing a mother's blood for a placental messenger known as RNA which contains foetal genetic material. Analysing RNA is more effective than analysing foetal DNA in the mother's blood because only DNA from male unborn children containing the Y chromosome can be distinguished from the mother's own DNA. [HealthScoutNews, via Yahoo! News, 17 March ] A deadly, eugenicist motive often lies behind pre-natal testing because unborn babies found to have genetic anomalies such as Down's syndrome are usually aborted. A private IVF clinic in Dublin has reported an overall success rate of 28%. Dr Tony Walsh, chief medical director of the J Marion Sims Clinic in Dublin, said that he was "very enthusiastic" about the success rates achieved since a new technique was employed at the clinic. Previously, embryos had been transferred into patients only two or three days after fertilisation, but the new technique involves allowing the embryos to develop in the petri dish for five or six days before transfer is attempted. [Irish Independent, 14 March] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "The practice of IVF should be outlawed in Ireland because it clearly contravenes the pro-life constitution. The fact that only 28% of treatment cycles resulted in a live birth at this clinic means that the vast majority of unborn babies fertilised there died in the process of the treatment. Many IVF embryos are fertilised in each treatment cycle, and so an apparent 28% success rate actually represents a massive death toll." A US district judge has issued a preliminary injunction against a state law in Delaware which requires women to wait 24 hours between requesting and going through with an abortion. Judge Sue L Robinson ruled that the law was unconstitutional because its only exception was to save a woman's life. The law was first passed 24 years ago but not enforced because lawyers believed that it might run counter to the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v Wade judgement. However, Delaware's attorney general announced in January that the state would begin to enforce the law [see digest for 24 January ] and she is now considering whether to appeal the latest ruling. [Delaware online, 18 March ] The province with the highest abortion rate in Canada is mounting a campaign to encourage its citizens to have more babies. Quebec not only has the highest abortion rate but also one of the lowest birth rates in Canada, and now the provincial government is offering financial incentives and a four-day working week for parents of young children in a bid to avert a looming demographic crisis. [LifeSite, 17 March ] The governor of Nebraska has welcomed a 27% decline in the number of abortions over the past four years. 3,775 unborn children were killed by abortion in the state last year, down from 5,140 in 1998. The abortion total has now fallen for four years in a row, and is more than 40% lower than in 1990 when the number of abortions peaked at 6,346. After announcing the figures, Governor Mike Johanns said: "This is excellent news, but it saddens me to think of the human cost and lost potential to our state that results from having more than 21,000 abortions take place in the last five years." [Nebraska Right to Life, via Pro-Life E-News, 17 March]

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