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Defending life from the moment of conception

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7 February 2005

7 February 2005

7 February 2005 A survey commissioned by the Times Educational Supplement claims that 59% of school teachers think that pupils should be told how to obtain an abortion during sex education classes.

84% backed telling pupils about the morning after pill and 98% said that children should be taught about contraception.

However, over three-quarters of those surveyed thought that parents should be informed if their underage daughter seeks an abortion.

[Times Educational Supplement, 4 February 2005; icwales, 4 February ] In a press release, John Smeaton SPUC's National Director, stated: "It is not part of the job of educators, teachers or head teachers to promote the killing of unborn children. They have no business promoting unethical practices which harm the welfare of children in their charge." He reiterated SPUC's commitment to providing accurate information about abortion and the development of the unborn child through its educational programme.

[Press release ] The position adopted by Britain's new Education Secretary has been criticised after she stated that she supports and will implement Government policy on stem cell research.

Ruth Kelly, a Catholic linked with Opus Dei, made her comments during a radio interview.

John Deighan, parliamentary advisor to the Scottish Catholic Bishops said: "The Catholic view is that embryonic stem cell research involves taking a human life. It is difficult to see how a Catholic politician could implement such a policy."

Dr Helen Watt, director of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, added: "It's hard to see how a Catholic politician could in conscience implement - as opposed to influence - such programmes.These are issues of basic justice on which Catholics are called to take a stand."

[The Catholic Times, 6 February] Researchers at the University of Laguna in Tenerife, Spain, have warned that newborn babies may suffer withdrawal symptoms if their mothers take anti-depressants during pregnancy.

The team, led by Professor Emilio Sanz, found 93 cases of pregnant women using Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (the most common type of anti-depressant) whose babies suffered convulsions and other withdrawal symptoms.

[Sky News, 4 February ] A group of Romany women in the Czech Republic are taking legal action, claiming that doctors coerced them into being sterilised. Under communism, Romany women were offered financial incentives to be sterilised, but a lawyer representing 25 of the women says that the practice has continued.

One woman, Helena Ferencikova, said that she was handed a form to sign after giving birth for the second time and was told that she needed to be sterilised for health reasons. She did not know what it meant and was devastated afterwards to find out that she was unable to have children.

The hospital denied that any patient was ever sterilised against her will. [British Medical Journal, 5 February ] President Bush has committed himself to building 'a culture of life' in his State of the Union address, reports. Focusing particularly on stem cell research, he called for a ban on all types of cloning and stated: "I will work with Congress to ensure that human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown for body parts, and that human life is never bought and sold as a commodity."

[, 3 February ] An Essex primary school is to show a sex education video to nine and ten-year-old pupils, claiming that children are becoming sexualised by society and need to be educated to make 'informed choices.' Parents have the option of viewing the video themselves and withdrawing their children from the class.

[This is Essex, 3 February ] The Cardinal of Bogota has urged lawmakers to respect life when considering proposals on issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz said at the opening of the General Assembly of the Bishops' Conference of Colombia: "We must reject all kinds of acts of massacres, terrorism and murders.

But in legislative terms, we must be very careful. Nobody has the right to decide if a person should live or die, even from the mother's womb, that is, from the moment of conception."

[CWNews, 3 February ] The pro-abortion UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is pressurising the government of Samoa to legalise abortion, reports.

The Samoan representatives said that Samoa's Chief Justice had issued a directive to the Government to consider abortion and that discussions were about to begin.

[, 3 February ] UK police have asked for the publication of the results of a government inquiry into an abortion provider's activities to be postponed until the completion of the police investigation.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service is currently the subject of criminal investigations after undercover reporters revealed that the National Health Service-funded organisation was referring pregnant women to a Spanish clinic for late-term abortions.

The Government's Chief Medical Officer was due to report his findings this month.

[The Telegraph, 6 February ] In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper, Baroness Nicky Chapman has reiterated her opposition to the Mental Capacity Bill. Lady Chapman has brittle bone disease and her parents were told when she was born that her life would not be worth living.

She has described the Mental Capacity Bill as a 'licence to kill' and said in her maiden speech that 'if this Bill had been passed 43 years ago, I would not be here.' Of the Baby Charlotte Wyatt case she said: "I think that in any situation a person should be given every chance to survive."

[The Telegraph, 7 February ] Researchers from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have published a study suggesting that transplanting umbilical cord blood from two donors is a safe leukaemia treatment.

Cord blood transplants have a number of advantages over bone marrow transplants but until now have been limited by the small size of an individual unit.

[Reuters, 4 February ] A report by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland has found that 44% of pregnant teenagers have abortions in the North-East of the country, the highest rate in Scotland.

The report links the affluence of the Grampian and Lothian areas with the high abortion rate, stating that 'once a girl has become pregnant, she is more likely to choose abortion if she belongs to a more affluent population.'

[This is North Scotland, 4 February ] Experts at a meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences are debating the practice of organ harvesting from patients deemed to be brain-dead.

A critic of organ harvesting warned that in a brain-dead patient, "the heart beats, the body is warm, vital organs like the liver and kidney are functioning and there is respiration, albeit supported." [Cathnews, 7 February ] In his first public address since being hospitalised, Pope John Paul II spoke in defence of life, particularly that of children born and unborn. He urged "Catholics and people of good will to defend the fundamental right to life, in respect of the dignity of every human person."

[Zenit, 6 February ] Three Maltese bishops have issued a statement calling for a law on assisted reproductive technology to 'rule out' procedures that 'go against human beings and against the family.'

Archbishop Joesph Mercieca and Bishops Nikol Cauchi and Annetto Depasquale noted that the vast majority of human embryos created through IVF 'are destined to die' with some used for research purposes.

The bishops' statement reaffirmed the Church's support for 'scientific research which assists natural reproductive methods and not those which take its place.' [The Times of Malta, 5 February ]

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