Where does Gordon Brown stand on life issues?
7 September 2006
The man most likely to be the next British prime minister has in general an equally bad record on life-related issues as Mr Tony Blair, the incumbent. Mr Gordon Brown MP, currently the Labour government's Chancellor of the Exchequer (chief finance minister), is expected to succeed Mr Blair following Mr Blair's announcement today that he will resign within the next 12 months. [BBC, 7 September] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "Mr Brown has voted consistently in favour of abortion. In 1990, he voted with the pro-abortion lobby no fewer than 16 times - three times for abortion up to birth, including for disabled babies; twice for abortion on demand in early pregnancy; once to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland; once for selective foeticide in multiple pregnancies; once to facilitate RU486; once to suppress information about abortions on disabled babies; and seven times for other pro-abortion positions. He also voted five times to promote destructive embryo experimentation. More lately, Mr Brown launched the International Finance Facility to raise money for the Millennium Development Goals, goals which the British government interprets as including a universal human right to abortion on demand. In the light of Mr Brown's hardline pro-abortion record, any move for a parliamentary review of abortion law would be exceptionally dangerous in the forseeable future."
Teenagers in Britain have said that they may stop using birth control and abortion services because they do not trust the new national children's database to keep their details confidential, according to a recent survey. The Children's Information Sharing Index, a database that will hold details on abortions, underage birth control and treatment for sexual diseases for 12 million children, is to be launched in 2008 in England and Wales at an initial cost of £224 million. Information will be shared between doctors, teachers, social workers and the police. A survey carried out by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children found that young people were sceptical about ministers' claims that the database would be completely confidential, and some said they might stop using birth control services to preserve their privacy. [Telegraph, 7 September]
Most European countries are suffering increasingly from under population problems, according to a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Whereas in 1990, all European countries recorded birth rates of more than 1.3 children per woman, now 15 countries have rates below 1.3, well below the estimated 2.1 rate needed to maintain a population. Tomas Sobotka of the Vienna Institute of Demography, said: "If you have a fertility rate of 1.2 or 1.3 you need to do something about it - it's really quite a problem. You have labour problems, economic problems and steep rates of population decline." The problem was reported to be worst in eastern European countries, where abortion has been used as a method of birth control. [Life News, 6 September]
An American group of women who became pregnant after being raped have said that they do not support abortion, which creates more problems for them than it solves. Women Pregnant by Sexual Assault have petitioned Congress for public hearings at which they can tell their stories, saying that they have been misrepresented in the public abortion debate, in which it is often assumed that victims of sexual abuse want, and benefit from, abortions. They wrote, "In virtually every case, those people who claim to represent our interests have never taken the time to actually listen to us or to learn about our true circumstances, needs, and concerns. We are deeply offended and dismayed each time our difficult circumstances are exploited for public consumption to promote the political agenda of others." [Life Site, 7 September]
A British fertility expert has urged women thinking of delaying motherhood to freeze their eggs for use when they are older. Dr Gillian Lockwood, who is to speak on the subject at the British Fertility Society conference in Glasgow this week, said: "A lot of women in their early to mid-30s want to become mothers but are not in a position to do it now. I think it's important that they know this technology is available." The freezing of eggs, if undertaken for lifestyle reasons, costs approximately £2,000. [Sky News, 7 September]
The Catholic Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, has called for civil public debate on abortion before a referendum on abortion in November. The legislation being debated would ban most abortions, except in the case of danger to the mother's life. Bishop Cupich said: "The coming referendum presents an opportunity for South Dakota to model for the nation the manner in which substantial public debate regarding this volatile moral issue can be carried on with respect, honesty and conviction." [Catholic News Service, 6 September]
The Republican candidate for the governorship of Iowa has said that, if he were elected, he would sign a bill outlawing abortion in the state. Jim Nussle has said that he has "a 100 percent voting record being pro-life in Congress" despite his recent answer to a survey indicating that abortion should be legal in the first trimester of a pregnancy. His Democrat opponent, Chet Culver, has allegedly said that he opposes any restriction on abortion. Mr Nussle said: "I've made it clear that I will sign legislation, I will be an advocate for a pro-life position and I will try and limit and save lives as often as possible in Iowa." [Radio Iowa, 6 September]
A Catholic nun in Kenya who was suspended for suggesting that abortion should be legalised in the country has had her suspension lifted by the Vatican after she withdrew and apologised for her comments. Sister Anne Nasimiyu Wasike was suspended from public ministry as a religious by Archbishop Ndingi Mwana-a-Nzeki, after she said in an interview with the BBC that Kenya should lift its ban on abortion. She recently wrote in a letter: "On February 5, 2003 in a BBC interview, I suggested that the State should legalise abortion to save lives of poor women. I now realise that this is wrong because it justifies evil means to achieve a good end. I therefore want to inform everybody that I believe induced abortion is wrong and cannot be justified to obtain a good end." [The Standard, 7 September]
The American stem cell research company that claimed that it had developed a way to harvest embryonic stem cells without harming the embryo has been accused of misrepresenting its work at a Senate hearing. Senators Arlen Specter and Tom Harkin criticised Advanced Cell Technology for its claims, after it was shown that the company had removed more than one cell from the embryos in its experiments, resulting in the embryos' death. Senator Specter said: "We have representation which created a lot of hopes ... and now they appear to be dashed." [The Guardian, 7 September]
Unborn children whose mothers drink alcohol during pregnancy are more likely to develop alcohol disorders in adulthood, according to Australian scientists. Researchers from the University of Queensland analysed data from a study started in 1981 and found that exposure to alcohol in early pregnancy almost tripled the risk of developing an alcohol problem between the ages of 13 and 21. Dr Rose Alati and colleagues wrote: "Foetal exposure to alcohol consumption of three or more glasses per occasion, in addition to and beyond genetic heritability and environmental factors, may play an important role in the causal pathway that leads to alcohol disorders in adulthood." [Reuters, 6 September]
Pregnant women who are exposed to air pollution may have an increased risk of giving birth prematurely, according to Australian scientists. Researchers from the University of Queensland studied data on 28,000 live births in Brisbane between 2000 and 2003. They found that exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM10) during the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with a 15% increased risk in premature birth and exposure to ozone was associated with a 26% increased risk. [Reuters, 6 September]