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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 21 July 2004

21 July 2004

21 July 2004 The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is to allow for the creation of embryonic children to provide therapeutic tissue for an older sibling. The test-case is that of Joshua Fletcher, aged 2, of County Down, Northern Ireland, who has diamond blackfan anaemia. [BBC, 21 July ] Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "We have every sympathy for Joshua and his family. However, it cannot be right to create a child with the primary purpose of benefiting an elder brother. The designer baby may be allowed his or her right to live, but that same right will be denied to his embryonic brothers and sisters. These unwanted embryonic siblings could be flushed down the sink, frozen or used for experiments. Although one should do everything that is ethical to relieve illness and pain, it cannot be right to destroy human life like this. This unethical procedure undermines any benefit which could come from it." [SPUC, 21 July ] The number of abortions in England and Wales increased by more than three percent between 2002 and last year, and SPUC says that ethnic minorities are being targeted for abortion. The abortion rate among under-16s rose from 3.7 to 3.9. Four fifths of abortions were state-funded. The figures refer to women resident in England and Wales. [Department of Health, 21 July ] Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "Whereas the 2001 census indicated that slightly more than two percent of the population described themselves as black or black British, today's official figures confirm that 12% of resident women having abortion described themselves as black or black British. Other ethnic minorities show similar disparities. The Department of Health is pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing in Britain - under the cover of its abortion policies. The figures also reveal that the government is making no headway at all on its 10-year target of reducing abortion among teenagers by 50%. Its policy of promoting contraception and the morning-after pill is failing disastrously." [SPUC, 21 July ] There are calls for wider availability of morning-after pills in Northern Ireland, after it was reported that only two of the province's 15 hospital-based accident and emergency departments prescribed the potentially abortifacient drugs to women and girls of all ages. A third department will prescribe the pills but reportedly only to under-18s. At one hospital, some of the doctors refuse to provide the drugs for ethical reasons. The Family Planning Association called the situation a scandal and Dr Olga Elder, a family planning specialist, suggested that women's rights were being infringed. Dr Lorraine McDermott, a family doctor in Crumlin, said that, after conception, one was dealing with two people. The Hippocratic oath, which she had taken, included an undertaking not to cause abortion. [BBC, 20 July ] Liam Gibson, Northern Ireland development officer of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: "The most fundamental human right is the right to life. There is no such thing as a human right to abortion. The morning-after pill destroys unborn children and damages women's health. It is being marketed as a contraceptive when in fact it causes early abortion. The British government's chief medical officer has warned doctors that morning-after pills increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, particularly among women who have already had such a pregnancy. There have been no thorough clinical trials of morning-after pills among under-aged girls." [SPUC, 21 July ] Girls as young as 13 are to be given free morning-after pills by pharmacists in east Devon, England. Parents will not be told or asked for consent. The facility is already offered at some pharmacies in Exeter, the county town. [this is Devon, 20 July ] The Iranian parliament wants to allow the abortion of disabled children up to 17 weeks' gestation. Parliamentary opponents of the move likened abortion to murder. Confusingly, our source states that abortion is already allowed "to prevent the birth of a malformed child". An overseeing council of 12 men will decide if the measure can be enacted. [Reuters, 20 July ] It is reported that, in Japan, aborted children's hands and feet have been removed and that such babies have been disposed of with rubbish. The government has said that it will find out what is happening. There are laws on the incineration and burial which appear to vary according to the child's age. [AFP on Yahoo!, 20 July ] Although stories of the mutilation and disposal of aborted children are upsetting, the principal tragedy is that they are being aborted at all.

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