Most Portuguese doctors 'will refuse to perform abortions'
23 July 2007
It has been reported that the majority of Portuguese doctors will refuse to perform abortions now that it has been made more widely available in the country. The recently passed law to allow abortion of all types of children until the 10th week of pregnancy came into effect on 15 July. 80% of doctors are expected to refuse to carry out abortions. Monsignor Carlos Alberto Moreira di Azevedo, spokesman of the Portuguese Catholic bishops' conference, said: "Catholic nurses and doctors have been encouraged to have recourse to their right to objection of conscience and many have done so. This comes as a surprise to the government. Many hospitals will not be able to perform abortions because so many doctors are having recourse to their right to objection of conscience." [Fides/CWN on EWTN, 18 July] Abortion was previously permitted for disability.
American Republican presidential candidate Mr Rudy Giuliani has said that the issue of abortion should not be used as a test for potential judges. Speaking on a campaign through western Iowa, Mr Giuliani said: "Abortion is not a litmus test. Roe v. Wade is not a litmus test. No particular case is a litmus test. That's not the way to appoint Supreme Court justices or any judge." [Guardian, 18 July] One of the leading Democrat presidential candidates, Mr Barack Obama, pledged support for abortion covered by health insurance and said that he would aim to appoint judges who were pro-abortion. He said: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges." He dismissed the pro-life movement in America, saying: "At a time when the real war is being fought abroad, [some] would have us fight Culture Wars here at home. I am absolutely convinced that culture Wars are just so 90s. Their days are growing dark." [LifeSite, 18 July]
The British government is planning to give teenage mothers personal contraception counsellors to prevent them having more children. The strategy will be a joint venture between local councils and NHS primary care trusts which aims to provide each teenage mother with a counsellor who will advise on how to look after the children and also how to obtain and use contraception. Mr Norman Wells, from the Family Education Trust, said: "So long as the Government encourages teenage sexual activity by making contraception freely and confidentially available in school clinics and other settings, teenage pregnancy rates will remain high and sexually transmitted infection rates will continue to soar." [Telegraph, 20 July]
India's first female president-elect reportedly once called for compulsory sterilisation. The opposition has published a leaflet about her including claims that, as health minister in Maharashtra in the 1970s, Ms Pratibha Patil considered "compulsory sterilisation of people suffering from hereditary diseases". The Congress party has denied the claims, calling them part of a "mud-slinging campaign." [Guardian, 19 July]
Children conceived by IVF treatment are almost twice as likely to suffer poor health, according to British and Finnish researchers. A study published in Human Reproduction showed that, by the age of seven, children conceived by IVF had spent an average of 4.31 days in hospital, almost two days longer than children conceived naturally. Professor Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin from Imperial College London, who led the research, said: "There are two sides to the coin and we have to say that in most cases, everything seems to go perfectly fine. But we have to give accurate information and inform the families there may be some risks - and even risks about which we don't yet know." [Daily Mail, 23 July]
The majority of Americans support the right to conscientious objection for pharmacists, according to a survey by Baraga Interactive. The poll found that 65% of respondents supported the right of a pharmacist to refuse to dispense a drug for moral reasons. Several states, including those of California, Illinois and Washington require a pharmacist to fill any prescription that conforms to state and federal law. [CWNews on LifeSite, 19 July]
A British couple who were advised to abort their unborn child after doctors said he was severely disabled have had a baby who is not disabled. Heather O'Connor and Jamie Bramley were told by doctors at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, that their baby had brain defects. Mr Bramley said: "They said the scan was 99% reliable and recommended abortion. We were distraught. I asked for further investigations, but the doctor said he was rarely wrong." The couple decided to go ahead with the pregnancy after seeking a second opinion at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, where a professor said that he believed the child's brain was normal. [Manchester Evening News, 23 July]
Catholic bishops in Argentina have responded to bills that would allow patients to refuse treatment by reaffirming the Church's teaching on the value of life. Authorities in Rio Negro are debating whether to allow terminally ill patients to make a statement refusing medical treatment. The bishops' statement affirms that the Church opposes "medical intervention not suited to the condition of the patient" but emphasises that this does not include basic requirements such as feeding and hydrating. They said: "The fundamental worth of all human life, the dignity which springs from the fact that man is in the image and likeness of the Creator, dignity which nothing and nobody can deprive us of ... We ask our priests, religious and lay people, to give special care to the mission of evangelizing the sick, bringing them the consolation and courage of Christian faith and hope, through an encounter that is human, simple, direct and personal - that one can do in the most simple of visits." [Fides on LifeSite, 17 July]
The number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is continuing to rise in Britain, according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency. The rate of genital herpes has gone up by nine percent and chlamydia has gone up by four percent, while syphilis and gonorrhea have gone down by one percent. Overall there is a two percent rise in the diagnoses of STIs, with an especially high rate among young people and gay men. Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of the Health Protection Agency, said: "There is mixed news in these figures. Some infections now appear to be slowing down. But there is no room for complacency. The picture for young people remains particularly worrying." [BBC, 20 July]
Pro-life activists in America are defending the use of photos of aborted children in their campaigns. Giving his views on the use of graphic abortion photos at the 2007 Canadian March for Life Youth Conference in Ottawa, Fr Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, said: "There is no single thing that I have seen more powerful to change people on abortion than simply showing them the pictures ... When people see what abortion does to a baby, they are stung to the heart and their consciences are awakened." Catholic bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, who is known as an outspoken pro-lifer, recently sent a letter to his parishes and Catholic schools condemning the use of graphic images, saying that "the end...does not justify the means." Pamela Sherstad, director of public information at Right To Life Michigan, which in general uses "softer" imagery in its posters and advertisements, said that the use of images of aborted children can be used as a part of a wider campaign. She said: "We use them. We have them on the website and we give a warning for people who do want to see the reality of abortion. It does tell the truth of what happens: when abortion occurs, an innocent human life is destroyed." [LifeSite, 20 July]