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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 13 October 2003

13 October 2003

13 October 2003 The Irish bishops' conference has produced a pastoral letter to mark their Day for Life on 12 October and the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's pontificate, entitled The Wonder of Life. Quoting extensively from Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the letter looks at the Church's understanding of the wonder, beauty and dignity of life and the need to defend human life at all stages of development. [Independent Catholic News , 10 October, Catholic Communications Office ] Scientists from St Mary's hospital, Manchester, have called for a change in the law to allow discarded IVF eggs to be fertilised to create embryos for research. Dr Daniel Brison warned of a shortage of embryos for research and said that discarding leftover eggs was a waste. "We just need to get over this ethical barrier," he said. [Manchester Online, 10 October ] SPUC general secretary Paul Tully commented: "Dr Brison seems to be demanding that scientists be permitted to over-ride a woman's rights over her own eggs. Many people would be horrified if they found out that their gametes were being used to create human life for experimentation purposes." [SPUC source] The opening of Baby Loss Awareness Week has been marked by a series of articles raising awareness about the grief faced by couples who lose a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth. UK Parenting raised issues such as the culture of silence surrounding miscarriage and stillbirth and the long-term emotional impact of the loss of a baby. [, 12 October ] The Sunday Herald featured the story of a couple who suffered an ectopic pregnancy and advertised a memorial service to be held at St Catherine's Convent in Edinburgh on 15 October [Sunday Herald, 12 October ]. However, eugenic abortion has been described as a tragic but necessary response to a diagnosis of disability. [The Northern Echo, 10 October] Alison Davis, co-ordinator of No Less Human, commented: "It is utterly tragic to imply that deliberately killing a disabled baby by abortion is equivalent to the natural loss of a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth. The implication that women "have to" abort if a disability is detected also clearly shows the common assumption that abortion is the "correct" solution to the challenges of disability." [SPUC source] SPUC campaigners in Sunderland are recruiting parents to oppose the distribution of the morning after pill to schoolgirls by pharmacies. A spokesman from Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust defended the scheme in the interests of 'patient choice'. [Sunderland Today, 10 October ] US scientists have produced the first live birth from transplanted ovarian tissue, the BBC reports. Scientists from Oregon University removed part of a rhesus monkey's ovary, transplanting it to another part of the body. When the eggs matured, they were collected and fertilised, with the resulting embryos transplanted back into the womb. "The technology could allow women to preserve fertility in cases where they are going to lose it prematurely," said Professor Nancy Klein, though she voiced scepticism about the possibility of healthy women using the technique to postpone childbearing until after the natural menopause. [BBC, 13 October ] A woman in Lebanon has given birth to sextuplets, Irish Examiner reports. The four girls and two boys were delivered by Caesarean section at 30 weeks, each weighing between 1.1 and 2.4 lbs. [Irish Examiner, 11 October ] The family of a 91-year-old woman who became the centre of a legal battle over geriatric care, have blamed the hospital for her death. Olive Nockels' daughter said: "We think she would still be here now if they had not taken her drip away for three days before they were forced to put it back." A post-mortem and inquest are likely to be held. [The Independent, 11 October ] Concerned Women for America, the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Christian Medical Association have made a submission to the Food and Drug Administration, urging them to withdraw the abortion pill from the market on safety grounds. The submission follows the death of an 18-year-old woman after she obtained the RU-486 pill from a Planned Parenthood clinic. "RU-486 is a dangerous and deadly drug what was wrongly fast-tracked in the waning moments of the Clinton administration by FDA officials influenced by intense political and ideological forces," said CMA executive director David Stevens MD. [, 12 October ] An Iranian lawyer has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in what has been said by some as a deliberate snub to the Pope, who was the favourite to win this year. Among reasons suggested for the decision, was that his views on issues such as abortion make him too 'controversial' for the Nobel committee. [The Guardian, 11 October , Yahoo News, 13 October ] Britain's second largest opposition party has named new spokesmen on health, international development, women and older people. Dr Evan Harris, a leading advocate of abortion, euthanasia and embryo experimentation, stepped down as health spokesman to care for his terminally-ill girlfriend, and has been replaced by Paul Burstow, who has a mixed parliamentary record on pro-life issues. Dr Jenny Tonge, another leading advocate of abortion, has stepped down as international development spokesman, prior to her previously announced retirement from Parliament at the next general election. Dr Tonge has been replaced by Tom Brake, whose parliamentary record suggests he is pro-abortion. Sandra Gidley, an opponent of SPUC's campaign against the morning-after pill, has been made spokesman on women and older people. Mrs Gidley has expressed support for the government's mental incapacity proposals which would legalise euthanasia by neglect. [Liberal Democrat press release , 13 September and SPUC political dept.]

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