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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 June 2004

16 June 2004

16 June 2004 A Kenyan doctor and two nurses have been charged with murder in connection with the remains of 15 unborn babies found near a river. Dr John Nyamu from Nairobi was arrested after some of his patients' documents were found near the remains. [BBC, 15 June] Paul Tully of SPUC commented: "We note that there is an intensive campaign to liberalise abortion in Kenya." [SPUC source ] Official figures published by Statistics New Zealand have shown a 6.5% increase in the number of abortions performed in 2003 compared with the previous year. Carmel Armstrong of New Zealand's Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child described the situation as "a major crisis." She said: "An increase in contraceptive advice and the advent of the morning after pill have done nothing to curb the number of abortions in this country." New Zealand has proportionately three times the number of abortions than Germany and double those of Scotland. Only Australia and the US have higher rates. [, 16 June ] The research watchdog Human Genetics Alert has urged the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) not to grant permission for scientists to clone human embryos. Dr David King, the HGA's director argues in a letter that the research "crosses important ethical lines for the first time" and that "it looks like scientists trying to find a use for cloning so the United Nations won't ban it." He adds that none of the signatories to the letter are pro-life, stating: "We don't believe that embryos are people with rights to life, but neither is it right to create them as mere raw material for research." The HFEA is expected to announce its decision on the application to clone from Newcastle University next week. [The Scotsman, 16 June ] The American Medical Association has announced that it opposes the Food and Drug Administration's decision to ban over-the-counter sales of the morning after pill. The AMA's House of Delegates approved a resolution against the FDA's decision without debate but with strong support during a previous committee meeting. Dr Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical Assocation opposed the AMA's decision, saying: "These high doses of hormones have not been adequately tested for their effect on teenagers, yet teenagers are the prime market for the drugs." [, 15 June ] The Chilean Catholic Bishops' National Bioethics Commission has reiterated its opposition to the morning after pill, stating that it attacks human life and violates the Chilean Constitution. The commission published information last week explaining how the pill, sold under the name Postinor 2, affects implantation. Debate has raged about the morning after pill since the government decided to provide it free to rape victims. [Zenit, 15 June ] Peru's health minister is planning to allow free distribution of the morning after pill, following a Justice Ministry ruling that this would not contravene Peru's pro-life constitution. Pilar Mazzetti, health minister and neurologist, told a news conference: "As a doctor, as a minister and as a woman, there's no way I'd accept anything that was an attack on life." Hector Chavez Chuchon, head of the Health Commission in Congress and a surgeon, is considering legal action against Ms Mazzetti, stating: "Where all this is heading is a bid to legalise abortion." [Reuters, 15 June ] The Catholic Bishops' of England and Wales have launched the 2004 Day for Life, aimed at raising awareness of the Church's teaching on life issues. Half a million Day for Life newsletters have been sent to parishes, along with support material for priests. The Day for Life was relaunched last year with a three-year cycle, this year's theme being the family. Bishop Longley, who chaired this year's Day for Life working group, described it as "an opportunity for the Church's teaching to be clearly enunciated and for parishes to celebrate family life." [Catholic Communication Service, 15 June ]

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