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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 April 2004

8 April 2004

8 April 2004 The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has called for electors to be allowed to vote for candidates rather than parties in the European parliament elections in June. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, said: "Candidates from the same party can differ in their views on crucial subjects such as abortion, embryo research and euthanasia. The present system in Britain only allows voters to choose between parties. Voters need to be able to choose candidates who will support pro-life policies. In other EU countries, including those using proportional representation, voters can specify candidates at European elections." SPUC is asking its supporters to approach candidates to put life-related questions to them. [SPUC, 8 April ] Pro-life governments and lobbyists have been successful to date at the current 60th session of the United Nations' commission on human rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Australia, Canada and the European Union wanted to broaden the scope of a draft resolution on sexual and reproductive health to include wording about sexual rights. They also wanted a reference to the decisions of the 1994 Cairo UN population and development conference. The proposals were opposed by Egypt, the Holy See and the United States and were omitted from the draft resolution which is still to be voted on. Mr Pat Buckley, director of European Life Network of Ireland, who is at the meeting, said: "Pro-life organisations must watch carefully to see that apparently innocuous wording does not carry a meaning which could advance the agenda of the abortion promoters. Happily, some countries are working hard to defend vulnerable human life at this conference." [SPUC, 8 April ] Catholic bioethicists have amplified and clarified the Pope's recent condemnation of the removal of tube-delivered feeding from so-called vegetative state patients [news summary, 22 March ]. Following an interview at the Vatican, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, was quoted as saying, "As long as nutrition and hydration are a support, as long as it is food and thirst-quenching drink that helps avoid suffering, it is obligatory. If the patient no longer assimilates food and if the patient no longer has thirst quenched by fluids but is only tormented, there's no longer an obligation to administer it." Other Rome-based bioethicists agreed that the Pope's statement was an "authoritative" confirmation of traditional papal teaching. [Catholic News Service, 7 April ] A Nebraska court examining the federal partial-birth abortion ban has been told that such abortions are never necessary for the mother's health. Dr Curtis Cook of Michigan, who specialises in risky pregnancy, said there were safer options. Foetuses could be delivered live after 23 weeks' gestation by caesarian section. [Guardian, 7 April ] There is controversy about kits which are supposed to help couples choose their baby's gender. The makers of GenSelect claim a 96% success rate for the $199 product which includes a thermometer, douche solution and herbal pills. Users claim it has worked while it has also been called snake-oil. [New York Times, 7 April ] The New Zealand euthanasia campaigner who was convicted last month of trying to kill her mother is to have her book dramatised. Ms Lesley Martin's work was previously refused by one theatre because of its controversial nature. [New Zealand Herald, 8 April ]

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