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Defending life from the moment of conception

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31 May 2004

31 May 2004

31 May 2004 The number of babies aborted on grounds of disability rose by 8% between 2001 and 2002, according to UK figures. 1,863 abortions were carried out for this reason, compared with 1,722 in 2001. Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, described killing an unborn baby with a disability as "a very difficult decision for the woman." [The Daily Mail, 30 May ] Under-18s in South Africa can have abortions without parental consent, Pretoria High Court has ruled. The Christian Lawyers' Association attempted unsuccessfully to challenge the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act for the second time, but Judge Phineas Mojapelo ruled that women had a constitutional right to abortion, including girls under 18. [News 24, 28 May ] A study of over 1,500 Dutch doctors has found that the majority do not see a medical need for euthanasia due to improved palliative care and pain relief. However, the majority also supported the use of so-called 'terminal sedation' over active euthanasia. Terminal sedation is a form of euthanasia by omission in which food and fluids are withdrawn from a patient under sedation. [The Age, 30 May ] Scotland's Cardinal Keith O'Brian has called for an end to a scheme which involves the distribution of the morning after pill to girls as young as 13 without parental knowledge. Cardinal O'Brien said that it was time for ministers and sexual health agencies to 'admit they have failed' and to launch a radically different sex education programme based on abstinence and respect. [The Scottish Herald, 31 May ] UK pharmacists are expecting a surge in demand for the morning after pill to coincide the bank holiday weekend, BBC reports. According to Schering Health, usage of the pill increases by 30% after the May bank holidays, 60% after the August bank holiday and 107% after last Christmas and New Year. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, commented about the morning pill: "It's not made absolutely clear that we are talking about an abortion-inducing drug, one that prevents the embryo from implanting in the lining of the womb. There has also been a massive rise in sexually transmitted infections in those areas where emergency contraception and other birth control drugs have been promoted." [BBC, 28 May ] Scientists from the Frauenhofer Institute and the University of Luebeck in Germany said last week that they have developed a method of stem cell extraction that could render embryo research obsolete. The researchers extracted cells from human and rat glandular tissue that had similar properties to embryonic stem cells and were highly stable and accessible. [Reuters, 28 May ] Disability rights groups have addressed a UN committee to demand protection from abortion for unborn children with disabilities. The UN is currently debating an international treaty to protect the rights of people with disabilities. A speaker from the Canadian Association of Living told the committee that pre-natal genetic diagnosis was a 'slippery slope towards genetic perfection' and diplomats were urged to turn 'a new page to embrace our sons and daughters, and promote their inclusion and right to life.' [C-Fam, 28 May ] A doctor has been arrested in Kenya on suspicion of performing 15 illegal abortions and dumping the bodies in a river. The remains of 15 aborted babies were found in plastic rubbish bags along with the records of women who had apparently had abortions. Dr John Nyamu claims that he is innocent and that the evidence against him was planted. [CWNews, 28 May ]

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