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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 March 2003

6 March 2003

6 March 2003 The Catholic Church in Kenya has issued a firm rebuke to the country's health minister for claiming that the denial to women of abortion was a gross violation of their human rights. A statement issued yesterday by the Kenya Catholic Secretariat insisted that the idea of a "safe abortion" was "totally misconceived". The statement continued: "Life is God-given and sacred and just as much as the mother may want her human rights to be protected, the baby in her womb has human rights too." [Zenit, 5 March ] 38 people killed themselves under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act last year, the highest number ever, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The number of legally assisted suicides in 2002 was more than double the number in 1998, the first full year in which the law was in effect. Oregon's state epidemiologist said that the primary reasons cited in requests for assisted suicide included loss of independence, reduced quality of life and loss of control of bodily functions. Oregon is the only US state to have authorised assisted suicide, and a bid by the US attorney general to block the working of the law has been held up in the courts. [The Milwaukee Channel, 5 March ] More than 25,000 Spaniards have asked to be excommunicated by the Catholic Church in protest at the Church's condemnation of an abortion performed on a nine-year-old rape victim in Nicaragua. The petition, organised by a number of [pro-abortion] feminist groups, was handed to the Vatican's ambassador in Madrid after the Catholic Church excommunicated all those involved in the nine-year-old's abortion [see digest for 25 February ]. The ambassador promised to pass the petition on to authorities in the Vatican. [BBC News online, 6 March ] Researchers at an English hospital have warned that violence is one of the commonest risks to unborn babies and their mothers. A team at Hull Royal Infirmary's department of obstetrics and gynaecology found that 17% of pregnant women who answered questionnaires at an antenatal clinic had been victims of domestic abuse, and that 3.4% had suffered abuse during their current pregnancy. Stephen Lindow, one of the researchers, said that violence against pregnant women was much more common than many other pregnancy complications, and suggested that all pregnant women should be questioned about violence just as they were already questioned about other risk factors such as diabetes and smoking. [Reuters, 6 March ] The researchers did not allude to the violence of abortion, which claims 500 lives a day in Britain. Indiana's tough restrictions on access to abortion, which include the requirement for face-to-face counselling before an abortion can proceed, have been suspended again after the US Supreme Court apparently supported it last week by refusing to consider a legal challenge [see digest for 25 February ]. After the supreme court's decision - which was to refuse to grant a writ of review rather than to uphold the law as was reported - abortion providers decided to contest the law at state level and a judge issued a temporary restraining order on Monday. This order has now been extended until 30 April, a delay which the president of the Central Indiana Crisis Pregnancy Center described as a "tragic deprivation of vital information" for women contemplating abortion. [Indystar.com, 6 March ; also thanks to Mark Ryland]

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