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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Irish money will go to UN Population Fund

6 June 2006

Ireland is planning to contribute over £3m to the UN Population Fund. Conor Lenihan, Minister of State for Development Co-operation and Human Rights, confirmed that the contribution is part of a larger donation of £43.5m to the UN development fund. He said, "Our contributions to the UN have been increasing steadily in recent years. UN leadership is essential to meeting some of the greatest challenges of our time including combating HIV/AIDS, protecting human rights, supporting victims of international or civil conflict, and developing democratic and accountable systems of government." [Evening Echo, 2 June] Patrick Buckley of European Life Network (ELN), Dublin, said: "ELN has on various occasions informed the Irish Government and has given them written evidence that UNFPA, despite their protestations to the contrary, have been complicit in China's infamous one child policy which has resulted in the slaughter of countless millions of Chinese girls. The evidence submitted to the Irish Government was a copy of that on which the US acted decisively to de-fund UNFPA. Unlike the US, however, the Irish Government has failed either to accept the information presented or independently to verify the facts of this appalling and unacceptable policy. European Life Network appeals once more to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to act in accordance with the Irish Constitution and withdraw all funding from UNFPA effective immediately."

The family of a Welsh man who travelled to Switzerland for an assisted suicide has called for a change in Britain's euthanasia law. Paul Bennett, 47, of Swansea suffered from terminal motor neurone disease and travelled to a Swiss clinic last month where he was helped to die. A family member said that travelling abroad to die had been expensive and had shortened Mr Bennett's time with his family. The case is currently being investigated by South Wales police. [BBC News, 2 June]

Female circumcision is a health risk to mothers and babies, according to the UN World Health Organisation (WHO). Death rates among babies born to women who have undergone female genital mutilation are 50% higher than for women who have not, according to the WHO report published in the journal, The Lancet. It can also lead to complications in childbirth, causing more women to need Caesareans. The practice of female circumcision, which is common in sub-Saharan Africa has long been a contentious issue among human rights campaigners. [Net Doctor, 2 June]

Babies should be cloned with genetic modification in order to prevent the birth of children with serious diseases, according to a newly published book by Professor Ian Wilmut. In his book he recommends cloning an identical twin of an embryo with a genetic disease but with the faulty gene corrected. The original embryo would then be destroyed. Professor Wilmut, who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep, said, "I am extremely concerned about the effects on a child of being a clone of another person and I oppose it. However, an early embryo is not a person." [The Telegraph, 5 June]

A new degree in palliative care of terminally ill patients has been developed by experts at a Scottish hospice. Students of the course, which has been devised by St Columba's Hospice in Edinburgh in conjunction with Queen Margaret University College, will research drug treatments, as well as alternative methods such as relaxation technique and will learn how best to communicate with patients and their families. Programme leader Margaret Colquhoun said: "I think people who do this course are the potential leaders of palliative care services in all kinds of ways in the future...This project will enhance and improve the quality of care that patients and families receive - that's what's at the heart of this programme." [Edinburgh News, 3 June]

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