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Defending life from the moment of conception

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MEPs claim euthanasia is a human right

6 July 2007

Members of the European Parliament have called on member states to legalise euthanasia in response to what they call public demand to be given individual choice. At a hearing in Brussels, UK Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies said euthanasia should not be a question of health policy but of human rights across Europe. Speaking to journalists after the event, he said: "It is heartless that British law should not only force people to travel abroad if they are determined to end their suffering, but also to threaten with criminal prosecution any loved ones who assist them." Italian Radical Party MEP Marco Cappato said evidence from Belgium and the Netherlands showed there was no 'slippery slope' to increased suicide. [Channel 4, 5 July]

Cardinal Keith O'Brien has urged new prime minister, Gordon Brown, to order an urgent review of Britain's abortion laws. Writing in today's Scotsman, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh described Mr Brown as a "man of principle and deeply-held moral convictions" but called on him to take respect for life into a "another sphere - the defence of life as yet unborn". The cardinal writes: "Our compassion towards the newborn and starving child in Darfur or Eritrea is surely hypocritical and hollow if we wantonly ignore the needs of their unborn counterparts in Dunfermline or Edinburgh who, through abortion, face the end of their short lives just as certainly as if they were born into poverty and malnutrition on the other side of the globe." Commenting on his controversial sermon last month, the cardinal said he had received messages of goodwill from as far away as New Zealand. "I have never had a greater response to any sermon or been so inundated with letters, e-mails [or] telephone calls offering support and thanks for my words." [The Scotsman, 6 July] John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "We wholeheartedly welcome Cardinal O'Brien's robust and courageous defence of innocent human life. We remain very concerned that any opening up of British abortion law could lead to radical pro-abortion amendments, which will be tacitly welcomed by Mr Brown's government. This is now a particular danger if any abortion amendments are attached to the forthcoming Human Tissue and Embryos bill"

The Catholic Church positively supports young women in crisis pregnancies and never condemns women who have had abortions, the Archbishop of Cardiff, Wales, Most Rev Peter Smith, has said. Speaking on the Church's Day for Life last Sunday, the archbishop said women needed "a lot of support, space and time for counselling and reflection to see that there are other ways that do not involve the killing of a human life. And for those men and women who are suffering the pain of an abortion, the Church will always be there for you. Christ is waiting for you in the sacrament of reconciliation." [Zenit, 5 July]

An African archbishop has slammed the Maputo protocol, which strongly supports the legalisation of abortion. The former Archbishop of Conakry in Guinea, Most Rev Robert Sarah, said abortion was "far from African culture and people". At a five-day meeting at the Vatican, he and other central African bishops affirmed that: "This protocol is the slow but sure destruction of fundamental African values: respect for life, the importance of the family, motherhood, fertility and marriage." The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which authorizes abortion, came into effect in October 2005 and 16 countries have approved it. [Zenit, 5 July]

Two terminally ill babies were administered 23 times the normal dose of a muscle relaxant by a doctor, an inquiry heard yesterday. The actions of consultant neonatologist Michael Munro were "tantamount to euthanasia", the General Medical Council hearing was told. A child was born more than three months prematurely at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, Scotland, in December, 2005. After he/she suffered a brain haemorrhage, Dr Munro told the baby's parents he could give the child a drug that was "on the verge of what society finds acceptable". He then injected the child with 2,000mg of the drug which, he admits, hastened the baby's death. Dr Munro denies his conduct was below standard, dishonest or inappropriate. The inquiry, being held in Manchester, England, continues. [BBC Online, 5 July]

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