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Defending life from the moment of conception

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New worldwide pro-life campaign launches: Amnesty for Babies before Birth

30 June 2006

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 Among other countries attending the launch were Iran, Iraq and the United States.

Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said in an interview this week 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]

Nearly two thirds of doctors at the annual meeting of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Belfast have voted to overturn the BMA's previous neutral stance on so-called assisted dying, which was passed last year by a very small margin. Alison Davis, national coordinator of No Less Human, the pro-life disability rights group, who is a full time wheelchair user, said: "As someone who once wanted to die, and who would have qualified for 'physician assisted suicide', I am relieved that the BMA has decided to restore its opposition to medical killing. Suffering, sick and disabled people need to be able to trust their doctors to give the best possible treatment, and not to collude in the fallacy that our lives have no value. What we need is medical help to live with dignity until we die naturally."

The Irish minister for foreign affairs, Dermot Ahern, has told Pope Benedict in a meeting at the Vatican that the Irish government would not allow any EU funding for human embryonic stem cell research in Ireland. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Mr Ahern said: "In line with our support for ethical subsidiarity, we insist that no EU funding shall be allowed for embryonic stem cell research in Ireland ... The corollary of this is, however, that we have to respect the right of other member states to follow their own consciences in this matter". [Ireland Online, 28 June]

Israel's legislative body, the Knesset, has voted against a bill to abolish restrictions on abortion. Currently an application for abortion has to be approved by a committee of doctors, social workers and women's health specialists. The Knesset voted by 39 to 9 to retain the committees. [Jerusalem Post, 28 June]

An assembly of Spanish bishops which was called to identify priorities for the nation's Catholics has listed among its concerns a potential relaxation of the abortion law. Fr Juan Martinez Camino said the proposal: "leaves human life totally unprotected", adding that doctors and others "should not obey these laws". [CNS, 27 June]

A new method of organ donation, non heart-beating donation, has been launched in Canada. Also known donation after cardiac death (DCD), it involves a patients who require a ventilator, and who have measurable brain function but no hope of recovery. The ventilator is switched off and, after the heart stops, doctors wait five minutes before harvesting organs. Previous methods of organ donation have required so-called brain death, which does not place a such a short time limit on the decision to go ahead, since organs continue to receive blood flow. One problem with DCD is that there are cases where the heart has restarted without intervention after five minutes or more of cardiac arrest. Dr Moira McQueen, President of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Centre, said five minutes was "frankly ... not nearly enough ... the important thing for us is that the person donating has to be dead ... the organs are a secondary consideration, that being established first." [LifeSite, 27 June]

Li Jinsong, attorney for Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng who is in prison for protesting against forced abortions and sterilizations, has been attacked in his car. Li Jinsong and a colleague were on the way to visit Chen's wife in order to collect evidence for the defence when a dozen men posted by local officials overturned their car. Neither victim was injured, but the vehicle was damaged. [LifeNews, 28 June]

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