weekly update, 21 to 27 June
27 June 2006
weekly update, 21 to 27 June Lord Steel, who was responsible for introducing the Abortion Act in 1967, has backed a call from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, leader of the Catholic Church in England to re-open political debate on abortion laws. He says he is "open to persuasion" on reducing the legal limit for some abortions to 22 weeks. About 30 members of parliament have signed a House of Commons motion calling for the establishment of a select committee to re-examine the alleged 24-week limit on abortions. Dr Evan Harris, a member of the House of Commons science and technology select committee, said "There is also a real need to see if access to early abortions can be made easier to reduce the number of late abortions." [The Scotsman 22 June ] Roy Hattersley, the peer and former Labour minister, has criticised the approach of Cardinals O'Brien and Murphy-O'Connor on abortion law reform in the Guardian. Lord Hattersley argues for a humanist morality based on respect for human life, applied logically. Abortion should only be allowed until a foetus is capable of 'independent life' he says. He said Cardinal Murphy O'Connor and Archbishop Peter Smith had failed to "set out the moral imperatives that should determine policy on the subject..." and added: "The date on which an unborn child can be destroyed is not a matter that can be decided by popular suffrage. It is a question of right and wrong". [The Guardian, 26 June ] Addressing the bishops of the Baltic States, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, Pope Benedict spoke of "the scourge of abortion and the demographic crisis" which exist alongside "exemplary family groups" in their countries. He urged the bishops to be "courageous defenders of life and the family". [Vatican Information Service, 23 June ] Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, has said Amnesty International will be discredited as a human rights organisation if it drops its neutral stance on abortion and starts pushing countries to repeal laws against abortion. He noted that Amnesty would lose support from Catholics if it defined abortion as a human right. [Reuters 21 June ] The British Medical Association is being asked to support the removal of safeguards restricting access to abortion in the first trimester. Two branches of the BMA have submitted motions for the annual representative meeting which would recommend requiring only one doctor's signature instead of two for first trimester abortions. [Sunday Herald, 25 June ] Warren Buffett, the world's second richest man, has pledged to give £20 billion of his £23 billion fortune to selected charities. The largest donation is to go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Buffett has previous supported Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups. [Sky News, 26 June ] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: "The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given billions of dollars to the world's leading promoters of abortion and population control. Mr Buffett also funds the falsely-named Catholics For A Free Choice, which campaigns against the Catholic Church and its position on abortion. Pope Paul VI once commented: 'It is inadmissible that those who have control of the wealth and resources of mankind should try to resolve the problem of hunger by forbidding the poor to be born.' "