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Defending life from the moment of conception

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5 July 2005

5 July 2005

5 July 2005 Campaigning groups on both sides of the abortion debate in the US are mobilising over the question of who will succeed Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Pro-life groups such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council are encouraging supporters and church groups to campaign for a nominee sympathetic to pro-life legislation.

Bill Beckman, executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee said that overturning Roe v. Wade in the next four years was "a possibility, but... not certain by any means." The pro-abortion organisation Feminist Majority said in a mass fundraising letter that 'abortion and women's rights are on the line', while is attempting to raise 250,000 signatures in a petition to senators to uphold legalised abortion.

[ News, 4 July ] The UNFPA has produced a report proposing that 'reproductive healthcare', a phrase that includes access to abortion, is necessary to combat AIDS and to reduce poverty and child mortality.

The report was circulated at the UN's annual ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) session and links achieving the Millennium Development Goals with abortion access. ECOSOC will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the MDGs. A new publication this week by the UN Millennium Project called for "universal access to reproductive health services by 2015 through the primary health care system."

[C-Fam, 1 July ] An article in the Guardian newspaper has criticised the lack of research into causes of stillbirth and preventative precautions, which occur at a rate of 11 per day in the UK.

Professor Jason Gardosi of the NHS Perinatal Institute stated: "We lose 10 times more babies to stillbirth than to sudden infant death. SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] cases are very important for us to try to understand, but stillbirths happen to many more families and need at least as much recognition of their importance."

[The Guardian, 5 July ] A 15-year-old Florida schoolgirl has lost a legal case against her school for forbidding her to hand out pro-life literature in school hallways.

Michelle Heinkel and her mother Debra Heinkel had argued that Cypress Lake Middle School had violated Michelle's First Amendment rights to free speech by banning the literature.

Judge Virginia Covington said that if Michelle were allowed to distribute pro-life literature, the school would also have to permit pro-choice literature to be handed out, and that "Permitting pro-life and pro-choice literature to be distributed by students in the school hallways would turn the school hallways into a battlefield".

However, the Heinkels' lawyer, Matthew Staver commented: "Students have the right to communicate with one another during non-instructional time, and this includes distributing pro-life literature. Religious speech and pro-life speech are not illegitimate twins. Both are protected by the First Amendment." He plans to appeal the ruling. [ 4 July ]

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