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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 November 2003

11 November 2003

The UN General Assembly's legal committee voted 80-79 in favour of delaying a decision on a cloning ban for two years. James Cunningham the US deputy ambassador to the UN, said that 100 nations supported a total ban and that countries opposing the total ban had voted to delay because they feared losing the argument. [BBC, 6 November] Hubert Hueppe, a high-ranking member of the German parliament, told the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute: "Today's German vote is in irreconcilable contradiction to the German government's earlier statements at the UN that the issue needed immediate action... Our government has ignored parliament's unambiguous demand for a comprehensive ban, expressed in a motion adopted by an overwhelming majority." Another delegate stated that the UN's credibility was in question if it could not ban "the creation of human beings for the deliberate purpose of their destruction." [C-Fam, 7 November]

The head of the intensive care unit where Vincent Humbert died is expected to be charged with murder, The Age reports. Dr Frederic Chaussoy said that he caused the death of Mr Humbert by switching off his respirator, after an unsuccessful campaign by euthanasia supporters to change the law. The prosecutor's statement said that his death "was not the direct result of stopping the artificial respirator but of the administration of (drugs) by the doctor." [The Age, 7 November]

A New York judge has granted a request by the National Abortion Federation to block enforcement of the partial birth abortion ban, BBC reports. The law bans a form of abortion that involves the partial delivery of the baby who is then killed. It includes an exception 'to save the life of a mother' but supporters of the new law have pointed out that partial birth abortion is never medically necessary. [BBC, 6 November]

Life begins at 14 days, according to the Anglican Church in Australia. Anglican primate Peter Carnley made the statement at the annual scientific meeting of the Fertility Society of Australia in Perth. Once this was understood, he claimed, 'troublesome difficulties fall away' surrounding issues such as IVF and embryo research. [The West Australian, 5 November] Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey challenged Dr Carnley, stating that human beings must be treated with dignity from the moment of conception to natural death. [CathNews, 6 November]

A 'sex tsar' is to be appointed to deal with Scotland's high rate of teenage pregnancy and STI. Scotland has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe, with rates of chlamydia infection rising by 30% last year. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland commented: "This shows it is time to tackle behaviour and deal with causes rather than symptoms. We would like this tsar to say to young people that multiple casual sex relationships are a bad idea." [The Telegraph, 10 November] Archbishop Mario Conti called upon Scotland to take 'a long hard look at abortion and allied issues' as they remembered those killed in war this Remembrance Sunday. In an article published in the Sunday Herald, he wrote: "While we recall with pride the lost generations sacrificed in conflicts of the last century on this Remembrance Sunday, at the same time we should recall - this time with shame - the silent holocaust of Scotland's children, whose names will never appear on any memorial, but whose loss will continue to be felt in the years ahead." [The Sunday Herald, 9 November]

SPUC has launched two major publications in its campaign against the draft Mental Incapacity Bill. One of these is a 12-page commentary on the bill, while the other is a four-page flier on the key dangers of the bill. [SPUC press release, 10 November] The Northern Ireland division of SPUC has brought out a leaflet on abortifacient birth control with the European Life Network of Dublin. The leaflet details the abortifacient nature of a large number of drugs and devices as well as the associated health risks. [SPUC press release, 10 November]

Girls as young as 11 can obtain the morning after pill and sex information at a Gloucestershire school. The scheme, which involves a lunchtime drop-in clinic and received only one complaint from a parent when it was piloted in April, was criticised by a spokesman for Life. "To me this is nothing short of child abuse," said Aidan Murray. "It is unjust and immoral. This attitude puts pressure on kids to have sex. It tells children they can live without dealing with the consequences of their actions." [Gloucestershire Echo, 8 November]

The Chinese government is selling children to western couples seeking to adopt, the Daily Mail reports. The Chinese Adoption Affairs bureau holds 'adoption weekends' for couples from the West, during which babies from orphanages, the majority of them girls, are brought to hotels and handed to couples for a fee of approximately £2,500. The growth of this adoption industry has been partly attributed to the exposure of atrocities carried out by Chinese family planning officials as part of the one-child policy, including forced abortion and killing of new born babies. [The Daily Mail, 11 November]

Britain's main opposition party has announced changes to its shadow cabinet. Iain Duncan-Smith, a pro-life Catholic, has been replaced as leader of the opposition by Michael Howard, described by the media as being more liberal. Mr Howard has a mixed voting record on abortion and he voted in favour of destructive research on cloned human embryos in 2000. In 1997 Mr Howard voted against a bill aimed at legalising assisted suicide and in 2000 he voted for a bill aimed at prohibiting euthanasia by omission. Mr Howard has appointed Tim Yeo as shadow secretary of state for health. Mr Yeo has a generally pro-life voting record on abortion but he voted in favour of destructive research on cloned human embryos in 2000 and his position of euthanasia is unknown. Other new appointments include John Bercow as shadow international development secretary, who is believed to be sympathetic to the pro-life lobby on abortion. Life-issue profiles of the new opposition spokesmen for portfolios with pro-life relevance will be available soon from SPUC. [Conservative party website, 10 November; SPUC sources]

The UK Voluntary Euthanasia Society has used the tragic situation of Tom Hurndall to launch a 'pro-choice Living Will'. Tom Hurndall, a former peace activist, is in a permanent vegetative state after being shot in the head by an Israeli soldier and doctors are applying to the high court for permission to end his life support. In a press release publicising the living will, the VES claims: "The High Court application could have been avoided if Tom had made a pro-choice Living Will." The pro-choice Living Will is supported by Philip Havers QC and Mo Mowlam MP. [VES, 3 November]

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