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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Support for Australian pregnancy counselling helpline

26 April 2006

The Australian newspaper The Age has published an article which supports a government initiative to fund a pregnancy counselling helpline for women who want to continue their pregnancy. Nicholas Tonti-Filippini argues that critics of the scheme such as Reproductive Choice Australia, who want the helpline to include abortion providers, fail to see that "To have real choice, a woman distressed by pregnancy needs more than the hard facts and the offer to arrange a termination. If and when Reproductive Choice Australia has a history of providing tangible support to women to continue with a pregnancy, it may have some pro-woman credibility." [The Age, 26 April]

A doctor who mistakenly pulled out the ovary and part of the bowel of a woman while carrying out an abortion may remain on the doctors' register under condition that he retrain, the General Medical Council has ruled. Andrew Gbinigie was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the GMC in 2003, following multiple allegations of malpractice while performing abortions. [BBC News, 23 April]

France has the second highest birth rate in Europe, according to a Reuters article. One key factor in this relatively high fertility may be the government incentives offered to French parents who have large families. These include medals for successful large families, higher benefits for three or more children, and childcare allowances encouraging mothers to return to their careers after having children. France's birthrate of 1.9 per woman is excelled only by Ireland (1.99), but it is still below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. [Reuters, 26 April]

A hospital in Houston, Texas has voted to remove life-sustaining treatment from a patient against the express wishes of her and her family. Andrea Clark has needed a ventilator to breathe since developing brain bleeding after open heart surgery. Although she can no longer speak, her mental capacity was unaffected and she communicates with her family through lip and eye movements. A Texas law allows the hospital ethics committee to remove life-sustaining treatment, with 10 days' notice for the patient to find an alternative treatment centre. [LifeSite, 25 April]

A poll released by Real Women's Voices, a coalition of American pro-life organisations, suggests that most Americans do not support the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, which established access to abortion as a 'right' throughout pregnancy. Although 65% of respondents said they were familiar with Roe v Wade, only 29% could select an accurate description of the ruling, 50% believing it allowed only restricted or early abortion. 75% of Americans reportedly believe that abortion should be illegal or significantly restricted. [LifeSite, 25 April]

A BBC Four TV programme today asks whether parents of disabled children should risk bearing further children who may be disabled. John Harris, an ethicist at Manchester University, has said that we have "moral reasons to avoid bringing inherited conditions into existence where we have that choice". Dean and Jennifer Brenton-Davies, whose son Morgan suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, are interviewed in the programme. They are told by Professor Mike Pope of the Chelsea and Westminster hospital, London, that they have a 10% chance that a future child will suffer from the same condition, and they appear to remain undecided whether to try for another baby. [BBC Health, 26 April]

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