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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 29 September 2003

29 September 2003

29 September 2003 SPUC is enthusiastically supporting the Irish Catholic bishops' Day for Life on the 12th of next month, a Sunday. Mrs Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "The fundamental right to life is under threat in both parts of Ireland. In Northern Ireland there are the Family Planning Association's attempts to undermine the legal protection for our unborn children, as well as the British government's threat to introduce euthanasia by the back door in its Mental Incapacity Bill. In the Republic there is increasing concern over the government's policies on the promotion of the abortion-causing morning-after pill as a contraceptive, the destructive use of human embryos and its support for abortion overseas in direct defiance of the pro-life clauses in the constitution." SPUC is asking Irish Catholics to request Masses for expectant mothers, their babies and the thousands of Irish women who each year go to Britain for abortion. A British charity has called for research into a possible link between in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Care said that most gynaecologists and Cancer Research UK denied that there was a link, but it still wants a study performed. Women undergoing IVF are given high doses of hormones to stimulate egg production. French research has suggested increased risk of the disease among IVF patients. [Telegraph, 26 September ] The Family Planning Association has backed the British Pregnancy Advisory Service in its call for chemical abortion (using RU 486 and misoprostol) to be performed with just one visit to the doctor. Our source, the Sunday Telegraph, reminds its readers of the death earlier this month of Ms Holly Patterson, 18, who had taken RU 486. SPUC pointed out in the article that the drug was not used to treat illness. The Life organisation suggested that, in addition to the five reported deaths from RU 486, there must be unreported injuries. [Telegraph, 28 September ] The BBC website has a feature-article in which a London midwife expresses her concern at a shortage of colleagues in her profession. The un-named interviewee works extra shifts to keep the labour-ward functioning. She reports how there had recently been four women in labour without midwives in a hospital corridor. Staff shortage had prevented another mother from being given anaesthetic. [BBC, 26 September ] Representatives of some 800 hospice doctors have challenged an assertion by a political commentator that they and their colleagues keep increasing morphine doses till patients die. Baroness Finlay of Llandaff is among signatories to a letter to yesterday's Sunday Times which refutes the claim by Mr John Humphrys, a columnist and BBC news broadcaster. They deny that palliative care prolongs dying nor hastens death, but is about relieving suffering. The letter points out how Mr Humphrys had suggested that certain demented or mentally ill people should not be kept alive to suffer, but the authors insist that such people deserve proper care. They describe morphine as a safe analgesic and also write of the benefits of opioids. [Times, 28 September ] France's social affairs minister wants the law to change in the light of the recently-reported death of Mr Vincent Humbert after his mother gave him an overdose through a drip. Mr François Fillon asked for a debate about changing the law to "take account" of situations such as Mr Humbert's. He said Mrs Humbert should be proud of opening such a debate. A former health minister pointed to how Belgium and the Netherlands had legalised euthanasia. [Reuters on Yahoo!, 26 September ] The UK parliament has approved a law which will allow the names of posthumous sperm donors to appear on their children's birth certificates. After a third (final) reading last week, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Bill awaits royal assent. [Chester Chronicle, 26 September ] Women will receive advice about pregnancy by text-messages on their mobile telephones under a scheme which starts in Glasgow, Scotland, next month. The city has a high teenage pregnancy rate and its health board is supervising the initiative. [Herald, 29 September ] No Less Human, SPUC's disability rights group, has pointed out a flaw in the president of the Royal Society's recent call for there to be no ban on human cloning for research purposes. In a letter to today's Times newspaper, the group's Alison Davis points out that, while Lord May tried to denigrate the importance of young embryos, he also said how vital they were in developing therapies. She writes that he cannot not have it both ways. Ms Davis points out how ethically-derived stem cells are being used for treatments and how the only difference between so-called reproductive and therapeutic cloning is the way the cloned humans involved are treated. [Times, 29 September ] A Canadian disabled activist has asked an MP to persuade the government to offer asylum to Ms Terri Schiavo, also disabled, whose feeding tube is due to be removed by a Florida court order next month. Mr Mark Pickup has approached Hon David Kilgour, MP for Edmonton, Alberta, and wants asylum to be offered under the right to life guaranteed by the country's charter of rights and freedoms. [, 26 September ] Germany will continue to press for a ban on human cloning which will allow the procedure for destructive research. Ms Kerstin Mueller, a foreign office minister, claims that, while her government would prefer a complete ban, a compromise was needed. Bridges had to be built to countries such as the UK which allowed cloning for research. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 26 September ]

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