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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Chancellor's son diagnosed with cystic fibrosis

30 November 2006

The four-month old son of Gordon Brown, the British Chancellor, has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Mr Brown and his wife Sarah remained positive about their son, Fraser, saying he was "fit and healthy". David Cameron, the leader of the Opposition, was one of the first politicians to send messages of support. The couple, who have one other son, lost their daughter Jennifer Jane in 2002 after she was born prematurely. [BBC Online, 30 November] In 1990, Mr Brown voted three times for abortion up to birth for disabled and some other babies and also voted to suppress information about abortions of disabled babies. Alison Davis of No Less Human, SPUC's disability rights group, said: "NLH has several members with experience of cystic fibrosis, and we and SPUC hope very much that Mr & Mrs Brown will get the help and support they need. We hope too that in the light of Fraser's diagnosis, Mr Brown will review his parliamentary record of support for abortion on grounds of disability, which has resulted in the deaths of many unborn children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis."

A measure which would require doctors to inform women considering abortion after 20 weeks' gestation that their baby will feel intense pain during the procedure, will be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time next week. The bill also requires practitioners to offer the mother anaesthesia to give the baby beforehand. In a debate in the U.S. Congress on the federal partial-birth abortion ban, witnesses testified that unborn children past 20 weeks feel excruciating pain during the course of an abortion. More than 90 members are said to be in support of the proposals. [Catholic News Agency, 28 November]

A pro-abortion Catholic priest has been elected to the Canadian Parliament with the agreement of his Bishop. Rev Raymond Gravel gained permission from Gilles Lussier, his bishop, to run for election despite the Vatican officially forbidding priests from running for public office. Bishop Lussier allowed him to stand on the condition that he stops priestly functions during his political career and that he abstain from voting against the Church's teaching on matters such as abortion and homosexual marriage. Rev Alphonse de Valk, editor of the magazine Catholic Insight, says in an upcoming editorial: "In view of his vociferous denunciations of Catholic doctrine in the past, it is difficult to believe that Fr Gravel will hold to this agreement. It is more likely that, once elected, he will unfortunately be perceived as a Catholic priest at every radio or TV interview or show, and continue to denounce Catholic moral teaching." [LifeSite, 28 November]

Babies born through IVF treatment in Australia are twice as likely to be stillborn or die within one month than babies conceived naturally, new figures have found. A report by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare shows that 155 babies died after being conceived through assisted reproduction in Australia and New Zealand in 2004. The findings coincide with a decision by Tony Abbott, the federal health minister, to ditch a proposal to limit funding for assisted reproductive technology treatment. [The West, 30 November]

The Archbishop of Leon has denounced a bid by the leftist PRI party to legalise abortion and euthanasia in Mexico City, saying the idea goes "against human values such as life." Last week Representative Armando Tonatiuh Gonzalez Case of the PRI party introduced a measure to the legislative assembly to legalise abortion up to 12 weeks for all women over the age of 18 for any reason. It also would allow euthanasia for people who requested it for "humanitarian reasons". Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago said abortion and euthanasia "are considered immoral acts by the Church, and therefore we will not accept such reforms." [Catholic News Agency, 29 November]

A proposal to legalise a right to abortion within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy will be voted on by Portugal's electorate in a referendum next February. Anibal Cavaco Silva, the country's president, said he agreed to the vote because the issue still dominated public debate. Currently abortions are only legal in cases of rape, foetal abnormality or when a woman's life is in danger. Both the right-wing Christian Democrats and the Catholic Church will campaign against changing the law. [BBC Online, 30 November]

Assisted conception procedures and women deferring childbirth were reasons given today to explain the record numbers of twins born in Scotland last year. The twinning rate for 2005 was 15.7 per 1000 maternities, the highest since records began in 1855. Eight sets of triplets were also born in the country last year, the figures from NHS Scotland's Information and Statistics Division (ISD) show. Dr Kevin Hanretty, a consultant obstetrician said: "Changes in reproductive technology, including IVF (in-vitro fertilisation), have led to a substantial increase in twinning rates in the past 20 years." [Herald, 29 November]

A picture of an unborn baby elephant inside its mother's womb described as "live animal foetuses" in The Times were actually models, it has been pointed out. The London Evening Standard published the pictures last Wednesday, saying they were "The first remarkable close-up pictures of animals in the womb". The paper reported that one camera had been inserted into the elephant's womb via its rectum to help create the picture of the elephant foetus at 20 months. The story was followed up in several national newspapers the following day. Channel 4, who are to use several unborn elephant images in a documentary over the Christmas period, said it was perfectly clear from their press release that the picture in question was a photographed silicone model. [The Guardian, 29 November]

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