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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 October 2004

11 October 2004

11 October 2004 Following an undercover investigation, a pregnant Sunday Telegraph journalist has reported that the abortion provider the British Pregnancy Advisory Service referred her for a late abortion which would have been illegal both in Britain and in Spain. The Telegraph's editorial stated that the investigation "makes a mockery of BPAS's claim to be a responsible charity worthy of NHS funding", commenting: "How ironic that those who campaigned most vigorously against back-street abortions have conspired to create a new, glossier but no less sinister marketplace of death." [Sunday Telegraph News and Editorial, 10 October ] John Reid, the UK Health Secretary, is expected to take legal advice today on whether BPAS should face prosecution. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "If there is evidence that the will of parliament is being thwarted, and in addition the law of a fellow European country is being broken, by an organisation in receipt of public money, this would be a very serious matter indeed." [The Guardian, 11 October ] A director of the campaigning group Abortion Rights has used the investigation to call for late-term abortion to be made easier for women in the UK, claiming that 'women are not getting the services they need in Britain.' [The Scotsman, 11 October ] Paul Tully of SPUC commented "This is an appalling scenario - the government seeks BPAS's advice on abortion law and policy. Their apparent contempt for the law will be a matter of great embarrassment to the Government. The NHS gives them millions of pounds a year for performing abortions. A full investigation is needed to determine the legality of NHS-funded abortions and private abortions that BPAS is involved with both here and abroad." The Belfast Court of Appeal has upheld an appeal by the Family Planning Association asking for guidelines to be issued clarifying Northern Ireland's law on abortion. However, Lord Justice Nicholson said that the judgement did not mean anyone could claim the law on abortion should be liberalised. He said: "Abortion is a controversial subject. The available evidence supports the view that the vast majority of people do not wish to have the Abortion Act 1967 extended to Northern Ireland." [News Letter, 9 October ] SPUC acted as an intervener in the case and has called upon Northern Ireland's Health Minister to ensure that guidelines make it clear that illegal abortions will not be tolerated. SPUC also warned that the Family Planning Association wants abortion on demand in Northern Ireland and "will continue to attack Northern Ireland's legal protection for unborn children." [SPUC press release, 8 October ] A hospital in Melbourne, Australia, has been ordered to hand over medical records relating to the abortion of a baby at 32 weeks. The Melbourne Magistrates' Court were told that the mother was suicidal when she was told that the baby suffered from dwarfism. The legal limit for abortion in Victoria is 28 weeks but abortions can be carried out later on the grounds of risk to the health of the mother. The hospital claimed that the records could not be disclosed without the consent of the patient, but magistrate Jeanette Maughan said that releasing the documents did not breach privacy laws. [News.com, 9 October ] Amnesty International have voiced fears for the life of a woman who has protested against her dismissal from work for being pregnant, the abortion she was coerced into having and her treatment by police for 15 years. Mao Hengfeng has already been detained on a number of occasions and confined in psychiatric hospitals. She is reported to have been tortured and sent to a labour camp without charge. [Amnesty International, 8 October ] A survey conducted by Beijing University has found that more than 30 million Chinese children suffer from mental health problems such as depression and behavioural difficulties. Nearly a quarter of primary school children admitted that they had considered suicide. Children born under the one-child policy have no siblings, are often spoilt and over-protected by parents and placed under enormous pressure to succeed. [BBC, 11 October ]

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