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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Scottish pro-lifers condemn introduction of 'lunchtime abortions'

2 May 2006

Pro-life groups and Catholic leaders in Scotland have condemned the introduction of 'lunchtime abortions' in Scotland. NHS Lothian plans to start a pilot scheme in 2007, offering abortions in outpatient clinics under local anaesthetic. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said "The very serious danger with this method is that so little time goes into thinking through the consequences ... The more streamlined the process becomes, the higher the risk that the woman will not fully consider her options. This will make abortion more convenient and make it less likely the woman will be able to pause for thought". Margaret Cuthill, of counselling charity British Victims of Abortion, commented "Many of the women who come for post-abortion counselling with our organisation say they felt like they had been put on a conveyer belt and this new procedure will add to that". [Christian Today, 2 May]

Geoff Hoon MP, Leader of the House, has said that the government will not establish a joint Lords-Commons enquiry into late-term abortions. A enquiry had been requested by the Chairman of the House of Commons' select committee for science and technology Phil Willis, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough. [Daily Telegraph, 28 April] SPUC comment: Such an enquiry would lead to a widening of abortion legislation in the current anti-life Parliamentary climate. We must continue to warn MPs of the danger of such an enquiry.

Reported instances of euthanasia in the Netherlands have risen for the third consecutive year, 1,993 cases being noted for 2005. Studies estimate that official figures record just over half of all cases of euthanasia. Three cases have been referred to judicial authorities with a view to prosecution because the doctors in question had not followed guidelines. [The Guardian, 27 April]

A court in Shanghai has recently given a three-year prison sentence to a Chinese man who helped his paralysed daughter to kill herself. Wang Tinghe's lawyer said the court had shown leniency because of the particulars of the case. Wang said that his daughter, Wang Qiong, had begged him to end her suffering. Euthanasia is not legal in China, but some lawmakers support its legalisation because of the country's aging population and the increasing cost of healthcare. [Washington Post, 27 April]

The Royal College of Nursing has rebutted claims made by the pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying that it ignored members' views in forming its policy of opposition to the Assisted Dying Bill. The RCN states that in fact all of its 380,000 members were given the opportunity to communicate their views via the RCN website and Bulletin. 50,000 members with specialist interest and expertise in relevant fields were consulted, and 1,000 members surveyed, 70% of whom agreed with the policy. [Medical News Today, 30 April, Dignity in Dying, 23 April]

A terminally ill man fighting for the right not to have his food and fluid withdrawn is taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights. Les Burke suffers from cerebella ataxia, and as his condition worsens could become paralysed and unable to speak, but mentally unimpaired. Mr Burke argues that GMC guidelines which would allows doctors to withdraw nutrition and hydration in such a situation violate his human rights. Mr Burke won his case in the High Court, but the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal. Mr Burke was denied leave to appeal to the Lords. [BBC News, 29 April]

The Family Education Trust has expressed concerns that many primary care trusts are flouting rules that forbid the sale of the 'morning-after pill' to girls under 16 without prescription. Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said "A growing number of primary care trusts are flouting official advice that the morning-after pill should not be dispensed to under-age girls without medical supervision". A spokesman for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said that "They [pharmacists] should ensure that where they believe a woman to be under the age of 16 the request is dealt with sympathetically and the woman is offered appropriate help and support to enable her to obtain emergency hormonal contraception by another route". [Daily Telegraph, 2 May]

A poll by ICM for the Guardian suggests that Britain's low birth-rate is largely due to a majority prioritising material success over children. 64% of men and 51% of women are said to agree that it is more important for women to enjoy themselves than to have children, while 61% overall thought a successful career was more important. Although 54% of people said the cost of raising a family was a deterrent, only 24% thought the government was not giving enough support. 35% would delay having children because of the availability of reproductive technology. [The Guardian, 2 May]

A couple from Greater Manchester, UK, are trying to find a country that will take six frozen embryos for storage, while they look for a surrogate mother to bear them, the BBC reports. Under UK rules the embryos must be destroyed on 8th May when the 5 year time limit for storing embryos created for surrogacy expires. Martin Hymers and Michelle Hickman underwent IVF treatment after a post-pregnancy hysterectomy, with the intention of finding a surrogate mother for the embryos. However, they have not yet found a surrogate. They have seven further embryos due to be destroyed next year. [BBC News, 1 May]

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