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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 28 June to 4 July

4 July 2006

weekly update, 28 June to 4 July The UK health ministry has issued the 2005 abortion statistics for England and Wales. The total number of abortions in 2005 was 186,400, compared with 185,700 in 2004, a rise of 0.4%. The abortion rate was highest at 32.0 per 1000, for women in the 20-24 year age group. The under 16 abortion rate was 3.7, and the under 18 rate 17.8 per 1000 women, both the same as in 2004. 89% of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks' gestation. Medical abortions accounted for 24% of the total, compared with 19% in 2004. 1,900 abortions (1%) were carried out under ground E, which allows abortion to birth for babies who are disabled or "at risk" of being disabled. [Department of Health 4 July ] The Amnesty for Babies before Birth Campaign has been launched in the presence of Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the UN in Geneva. The campaign is organising a worldwide petition for unborn children's rights which is addressed to the UN general assembly. Ms Kathy Sinnott, independent MEP for Ireland south and a campaigner for the disabled, announced the start of the campaign and said: "Amnesty International is currently consulting its members all over the world on the question of whether to campaign actively to make abortion a human right. The targeting of the baby before birth by powerful international organisations and all attempts to make abortion a human right are unfair, unjust and contrary to the human rights of the baby before birth." John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "There has been a failure by those charged with the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child properly to implement that convention in respect of all children without discrimination. Sadly, the convention has been unjustly interpreted by some nations and international bodies to limit its scope to born children." The campaign's website is at www.amnestyforbabies.com Among other countries attending the launch were Iran, Iraq and the United States. Members of parliament led by Dr Evan Harris, a member of the House of Commons science and technology committee, are to make a fresh attempt to end the right of fertility clinics to refuse treatment to single women and lesbians. This was described last year as "offensive" to unconventional families by the committee, and Dr Harris says it is "clearly indirect discrimination." [The Guardian 3 July ] [Ananova 3 July ] [The Scotsman 3 July ] A landmark lawsuit seeking to confirm a frozen embryo's right to life has opened in an Irish court. The case pits a 38 year old woman against her estranged husband, who is refusing to allow her to use the couple's frozen embryos, produced four years ago at a Dublin IVF clinic. The woman's lawyer, Mr Gerard Hogan, said the case could determine whether Ireland's 1983 constitutional amendment saying "the right to life of the unborn and ... by its laws to defend and vindicate that right" extends to frozen embryos. [Sign On San Diego 3 July ] [Seattlepi 3 July ] Mr. Pat Buckley, Director of the European Life Network, said "IVF procedures in themselves gravely interfere with human nature and in particular with the right to life of the unborn. However, the two embryos at the centre of this case must be given every possible opportunity to survive. These vulnerable human beings are currently imprisoned in a state of suspension. They must be afforded the protection of the Irish Constitution, which proclaims their right to life and guarantees by its laws to defend and vindicate that right." Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has said in an interview that the destruction of a human embryo, for example in research, is "equivalent to abortion" and incurs the same penalties of excommunication. The cardinal drew attention to trends in some societies which threaten to make "speaking in defence of ... life and for the rights of the family ... a form of disobedience to the Government, a [form of] discrimination against women", and speculated that "some international court" might in the future challenge the church's defence of such teachings. [LifeSite, 28 June ]

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