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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Pro-abortion MP calls for review of the law

13 June 2006

A pro-abortion British MP has called for a review of the abortion laws. Liberal Democrat MP, Dr Evan Harris said: "...the Government has refused to have a debate since 1990. Sixteen years is far too long a time for Parliament not to vote on the issue, let alone debate it substantively. It is now time for the Government to back a Parliamentary inquiry and allow time for the issue to be debated and settled." [Daily Mail, 12 June] Dr Harris made a similar call in July 2005, listing a number of points in which he wished to see the law widened. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, leader of Catholics in England and Wales is to use a meeting with the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt next week to call on the Government to cut the upper time limit for social abortions from 24 weeks. Previously Ms Hewitt has ruled out a cut, but opinion polls show 47 per cent of women in favour of it, and 10 per cent in favour of a ban on all abortions. Alison Davis, leader of SPUC's disability rights group No Less Human said "The most vulnerable of unborn children will continue to face death by abortion - the youngest, and those with disabilities, who can currently be aborted up to birth." [Daily Mail 12 June]

Chinese police have finally admitted to arresting a well-known campaigner against the country's one child policy, four months after he went missing. Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist has been missing since March but his arrest by police from the Shandong province was only confirmed on Sunday when his wife was asked to sign a document listing charges against Chen. His arrest came after several months of house arrest for having revealed a coercive birth control campaign in Shandong including forced abortions and sterilisations. It is thought to be possible that Chen will be tried for the charges against him which are intending to damage public property and inciting people to disrupt transport. His wife described the charges as "groundless." [Asia News, 12 June]

Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will say today at a conference to mark National Infertility Day that women should be given three free cycles of IVF treatment on the National Health Service instead of the current one. She will also say that patients need better information about the costs of treatment and access to it. [icWales 12 June]

Prof K.J.S. Anand, a renowned neonatologist at the University of Kansas, proved in the 1980's that newborn babies feel pain. He has now demonstrated in a study published in the June 2006 issue of "Pain Clinical Updates," the official review of the International Association for the Study of Pain, that fetuses also feel pain and suggests that pain perception develops in the second trimester. [Zenit 11 June]

Ms Lara Brean and Mr Andy Brookes from Banwell near Weston-super-Mare, who discovered that their son Leo, now four, had Down's syndrome while Ms Brean was pregnant, say National Health Service staff dealt with the situation "negatively" and suggested that Leo be aborted. They are backing a campaign by the Down's Syndrome Association (DSA) calling for more information and support for parents. [This is Bristol 10 June]

A young woman described the ordeal she underwent after taking the abortion drug mifepristone (RU-486) as "a complete nightmare". The 21-year-old, from New Delhi, took the pills at home but had to be rushed to hospital and spent almost two days under medical supervision. She said, "I wanted to have it in the privacy of my home so I went and bought an abortion pill from a chemist. But it turned out to be a complete nightmare -- both physically and emotionally. Contractions for 10 hours, sweating, screaming and a lot of bleeding." Nimmi Rastogi, a prominent gynaecologist said that her case was not unusual. He said, "We often get cases where the patient has tried the drug at home and it has not triggered complete abortion. In such cases, we have to resort to surgical methods." [The Times of India, 10 June]

Mr Richard Smith who has written on the issue of abortion since 1978, comments in the Guardian on Professor Len Doyal's recent call for legalisation of euthanasia. He suggests that like abortion euthanasia will become gradually more widespread [The Guardian 9 June] Melanie Phillips has condemned Professor Len Doyal's call for non-voluntary euthanasia. Ms Phillips writes: "Professor Doyal says that the lives of some patients are 'of no further benefit to them' on account of their mental incapacity, illness, shortness of life or distress and suffering. So they should be killed instead. However noble the Professor's intentions may be to relieve intolerable suffering, this is the road to barbarism. It opens up the appalling vista of the wholesale killing of people because they are deemed too inconvenient, useless or expensive to keep alive." [Daily Mail, 9 June]

The Swiss bishops' conference has criticised the creation of babies for medical purposes "shocking eugenics, enveloped in good sentiments." In a message of the Bioethics Commission of the Episcopal Conference, the bishops referred to the Switzerland's first "medicine baby" created to provide bone marrow for her six-year­old brother. They wrote, "A noble end does not justify killing embryos, which are individuals of the human species. Here the embryo is not treated as an end. It is used as an instrument and considered as merchandise. This practice is a regression of humanism, which is particularly insidious as it camouflages with the emotion aroused by the sick child and the parents' suffering." [Zenit, 9 June]

The Grand Mufti of Egypt has said that aborting children conceived in adultery is legitimate so long as it is within the first four months of pregnancy. Speaking in a discussion programme on Egyptian television, Ali Gomaa said that such circumstances fall under "daruaat": conditions in Islam which make something permissible which is usually not. He referred to the Islamic belief that the unborn child does not have a soul until 120 days of conception. [Adnkronos International, 9 June] Dr A. Majid Katme, coordinator of SPUC Muslim Division and spokesman for the Islamic Medical Association UK, commented: "In the holy book Al Qur'an and the sayings of the final prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) - there is no single reference which allows abortion for any reason or at any stage of pregnancy. In fact, when a pregnant lady came willingly to the Prophet confessing of her adultery and her pregnancy and asking the Prophet to arrange her punishment, he refused to punish her, sending her away until the baby was born. So any child conceived in adultery has the full right to life, like a child conceived in marriage, as the Prophet has taught us. This story is well-known to Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti, so one is very surprised to hear this odd fatwa (ruling) from him. His personal view is not binding on Muslims."

The Most Rev Raymond Roussin, the Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver has spoken out against a move within Amnesty International to declare access to abortion as a human right. He said "I can only pray and hope that [they] will rethink such a drastic and sad proposed decision, which would to my mind cut the heart out of the purpose of Amnesty International." [ 9 June]



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