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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 22 October 2003

22 October 2003

22 October 2003 The body which advises Britain's state health service has recommended that all unborn children should be screened for Down's syndrome. SPUC's disability rights group has warned of fatal discrimination against the disabled. Alison Davis of No Less Human told the Daily Mail: "The covert message is that, if there is anything 'wrong' with the baby, it should be aborted. It makes you wonder whether it has something to do with the financial costs of looking after people with Down's when they grow up." John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, told Channel 4 news: "The government knows that, the more that it offers choice, the more abortions there will be of disabled babies. What sort of message does that send to the disabled?" The Life organisation said the move was "scary" and ignored unborn children's rights. Screening for Down's presently tends to be given to older women. People with the condition can live into their 50s or longer. The recommendation for universal screening came from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. [Femail, 22 October ] The institute is also involved in a recommendation that pregnant women who do not have health complications should have fewer appointments with doctors and midwives. [Ananova, 22 October ] President Bush says he is looking forward to signing a ban on partial-birth abortion after US senators yesterday approved it by 64 votes to 34. The president described the practice as abhorrent. He wants to: "continue to build a culture of life in America." Three weeks ago the house of representatives passed an identical bill by 281 votes to 142. Pro-abortionists say they will challenge the ban's constitutionality in the supreme court. The technique involves the delivery of the baby's body after which his or her brain is sucked out. [Telegraph, 22 October , and USA Today, 21 October ] The president's brother, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, has ordered doctors to resume feeding Mrs Terri Schiavo after state legislators changed the law to let him intervene. Mrs Schiavo's feeding tube was removed a week ago at the request of her husband who is to appeal against the governor's decision. The woman's parents, who want her to live, say that she could learn to swallow. [Independent, 22 October ] The German foreign minister is under pressure to sign a statement, initiated by Costa Rica and supported by the USA and scores of other countries, which calls for a United Nations ban on human cloning for all purposes. Medical groups and the Christian democrat opposition have criticised Mr Joschka Fischer for ignoring an overwhelming vote for such a ban in the lower house of parliament in February. Mr Hans-Josef Fell, a member of Mr Fischer's Green party in parliament, says his colleague supports a total ban and is waiting for it to get majority support. Critics say Mr Fischer is delaying to leave the door open for research on cloned humans but Mr Fell denies this. [The Scientist, 21 October ] Pro-life lobbyists at the UN said that claims of a "deadlock" were a cynical move to try to resist the Costa Rica proposal. A rival proposal to allow cloning for experimentation on embryos gained far less support. [SPUC source] A group of socialist deputies in the Polish parliament have called on the government to fulfil its pledge to re-introduce liberal abortion. Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the primate of Poland, has objected, saying that abortion amounts to murder. The ruling democratic left alliance allowed discussion of the issue to subside in the run-up to June's referendum on membership of the European Union. Since 1993 abortion has been strictly regulated. The European parliament has urged Poland to make abortion more widely available. [Reuters on MSNBC, 21 October ]

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