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Defending life
from conception to natural death


ECHR rejects pro-abortion lawsuit against Irish government

7 July 2006

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected a lawsuit against Ireland by an Irish woman who travelled to the UK for an abortion. The woman, known as D, underwent an abortion in Britain when she found out that one of her twin unborn children died in the womb and the other had a genetic abnormality known as Edwards' syndrome. Abortion is illegal in Ireland unless there is a serious risk to the life of the mother. She sued the Irish government for insufficient access to abortion, human rights violation and discrimination. The court said the woman did not try hard enough to get an abortion in Ireland before going to the UK. [Life Site, 6 July] Patrick Buckley of European Life Network said: "We welcome the ECHR rejection of the D case. The case was clearly another speculative attempt to undermine Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion. This action was callously used by the Centre for Reproductive Rights as part of its global campaign to use national and regional courts to further its agenda in trying to make abortion a human right."

The Catholic bishops of Germany have banned Catholics from cooperating with a pregnancy advisory service. Donum Vitae, a seven-year-old organisation founded by lay Catholics, supposedly to help protect the unborn, was criticised by the Vatican in 2000 after issuing certificates that enabled women to obtain an abortion. The bishops' conference said: "As a private association, Donum Vitae is an organisation outside the Catholic Church - its information centres are not acknowledged by the bishops' conference or by individual bishops. Persons acting in the Church's service are prohibited from cooperating with Donum Vitae." [The Tablet, 8 July]

The Irish man being sued by his wife for the right to use their frozen embryos has said that it was his human right to withdraw his consent. The High Court in Dublin heard that the couple signed a consent form for storage and future use of the embryos at an IVF clinic in 2002. Justice Brian McGovern said that it needed to be established whether that contract should stand or whether the husband was entitled to withdraw his consent. The case continues. [Daily Ireland, 6 July]

Five people have been convicted of abortion crimes in Portugal. A doctor, nurse and three women were given prison sentences after the state appealed against an acquittal of charges against them in 2004. Abortion is allowed on maternal health grounds up to 12 weeks in Portugal but the Socialist government has announced that it will introduce a law in September allowing abortion on demand in the first trimester of pregnancy. [Life Site, 5 July]

Abortion and teenage pregnancy rates in Bolton, Lancashire, are amongst the highest in the county and several teachers from Bolton schools have expressed concerns that the sex education they provide is inadequate. . Julia Stanworth, Head of Science at Thornleigh School, introduced detailed sex education for pupils aged 13 and 14 four years ago. [Bolton Evening News, 6 July]

The newly elected President of Mexico is reportedly a pro-life Catholic. Mr Felipe Calderón, who won the hotly contested election by a narrow margin, was described by the Inter Press Service News Agency as "a devout, conservative Catholic, attending daily mass, [who] has not shied from acknowledging his stances against abortion, condom use, homosexual relations and euthanasia." In an interview with the Knight Ridder news service earlier this year, he said, "On the subject of abortion, I am pro-life, and I also see that it is a matter clearly regulated by law, and most of all in judicial terms well settled." [Life Site, 6 July]

Disgraced stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk has admitted in court that he ordered subordinates to fake data. The South Korean researcher has been charged with accepting funds under false pretences, embezzlement and purchasing human eggs for research. If found guilty, he faces three years' imprisonment. [The Guardian, 5 July]

The national director of US-based Priests for Life has called on Christians to pray for the conversion of abortionists. Fr Frank Pavone wrote in a recent column about the Society of Centurions, an organisation that supports former abortion practitioners who convert to pro-life views. [EWTN, 6 July]

A natural birth can give babies better protection against diseases and allergies than birth by Caesarean section, according to a Scottish study. Researchers at Glasgow University discovered that babies who had been delivered normally had higher levels of bacteria such as bifidobacteria in their gut, which help to develop the immune system. Professor Christine Edwards, who led the research, said, "If you are Caesarean delivered, you have to pick up bacteria from the environment around you - you are not getting exposure to your mother's bacteria. If you are born vaginally, you are getting bacteria from around that area, but if you are born by Caesarean you are in a very sterile environment when you are actually born." [The Scotsman, 7 July]

A professor of moral philosophy has written to a Scottish newspaper to uphold the status of the human embryo and to criticise supporters of human cloning. Writing in The Scotsman, Professor John Haldane from the department of moral philosophy at the University of St Andrews described human cloning as "the destruction of human embryos beyond the benefits that may accrue from doing so." He criticised Professor Ian Wilmut's views on the respect due to the human embryo as "inconsistent" and concluded: "The embryological evidence is that the zygote is a human being from the start of its existence." [The Scotsman, 6 July]

Professor Ian Wilmut has expressed his disappointment that Britain is no longer cloning animals. Speaking to the BBC on the 10th anniversary of the birth of the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, Professor Wilmut said that Britain has failed to capitalise on the technology that it invented and pointed to how it had been "exploited commercially" in countries such as Japan and America. [BBC News, 6 July]

A possible cause for Down's syndrome has been found, according to American scientists. The researchers from the Neuroscience Institute at Stanford University have identified a gene that, if over-produced, can stop some brain cells from working correctly. They hope that this finding could ultimately lead to being able to stop or even reverse mental decline in Down's syndrome sufferers. Professor William Mobley, who led the research, said, "If we can decrease the expression of this gene, we may be able to provide something more than supportive care to people with Down's syndrome." [BBC News, 5 July] In Britain about 90% of unborn children identified with Down's are aborted.

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