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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 7 to 12 December

12 December 2006

Weekly Update, 7 to 12 December A parliamentary group has concluded that the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are "difficult or impossible to meet" without curbing population growth.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health will publish a report later this month claiming that high birth rates result in poorer infant nutrition, higher risk of death in pregnancy and childbirth and less chance of receiving education, as well as impacting on the environment. Richard Ottaway, MP, the group's vice-chairman, recommended increased sexual education for women and easy access to birth control.

He said: "No country has ever raised itself out of poverty without stabilising population growth. And the MDGs are going to be difficult or impossible to attain without a levelling out of population growth in developing countries...We have the solution; it's not that difficult. The question is, will we go for it?"

[BBC News, 8 December ] British fertility clinics are failing to provide enough information for potential patients, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

According to a recent study carried out by the HFEA, half of clinics do not give sufficient advice, information and access to counseling.

[BBC News, 7 December ] The Pope has said that the defence of human life and values such as peace, justice and care for the environment are consistent and part of the Catholic Church's moral tradition.

In contrast, he spoke of an "anti-morality" of freedom without any context.

Speaking to a conference of Swiss bishops, Benedict XVI said that the Church must proclaim "the commitment to life from conception to death, that is, its defense against abortion, against euthanasia, against the manipulation and man's self-authorization in order to dispose of life" even if this is "often received controversially by politics."

He said: "Only if human life from conception until death is respected, is the ethic of peace possible and credible; only then may nonviolence be expressed in every direction, only then can we truly accept creation and only then can we achieve true justice."

[Zenit, 7 December ] A High Court judge has ruled that doctors may withhold life-sustaining care, including food and water, from a woman in the so-called persistent vegetative state (PVS).

The patient in a British hospital was recently given the drug zolpidem, but her condition showed no improvement.

[Guardian, 6 December ] A spokesman for SPUC pointed out that PVS was not a terminal illness and says "It is precisely because this woman is not dying that the court has been asked to authorise her intentional killing - euthanasia by omission."

[SPUC, 6 December ] The Australian parliament has passed a law lifting the restrictions on cloning human embryos for stem cell research.

Both the prime minister John Howard and the leader of the Labour party, Kevin Rudd, opposed the bill.

A former health minister, Kay Patterson, who drafted the bill, argued that Australia had to allow research that is being done elsewhere if it were to accept the resulting treatments.

The House of Representatives voted 82 to 62 for Ms Patterson's bill, after the Senate backed it in November. [BBC, 6 December ]


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