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Defending life from the moment of conception

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New pro-abortion ministers in Brown's cabinet

2 July 2007

Mr Gordon Brown has appointed several pro-abortion ministers to life-related portfolios in his new UK government, a move which means any reform of the abortion law is likely to lead to more abortions. Ms Dawn Primarolo MP, appointed a minister of state for health, has voted for abortion on demand and for the Abortion Act to be extended to Northern Ireland. Mr Ben Bradshaw MP, also appointed a minister of state for health, supports the Abortion Act 1967. Mrs Ann Keen MP, appointed a parliamentary under-secretary of state for health, believes in a woman's right to choose abortion. Mr Jim Knight MP, appointed a minister of state for children, families and schools, signed in 2002 a parliamentary motion calling for "universal access to comprehensive reproductive health services", a phrase normally understood to include abortion on demand. Beverley Hughes, also appointed a minister of state for children, families and schools, signed parliamentary motions in 1997 calling for abortion on demand and for the Abortion Act 1967 to be extended to Northern Ireland. Gareth Thomas, appointed a parliamentary under-secretary of state for international development, is one of parliament's leading promoters of abortion on demand and population control. [SPUC, 2 July]

Mr Brown's nomination of Baroness Amos to the role of European Union (EU) Special Representative to the African Union could mean an increase in Western pressure upon Africans to accept population control. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: "As a government minister, Baroness Amos defended the British government's complicity in China's population control programme via its support for the United Nations Population Fund, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International. China uses Western resources to manage its one-child policy of forced abortions and forced sterilisations. Baroness Amos also promoted "universal access to reproductive health" - a phrase normally understood to include abortion on demand - as "central to attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)" (Lords Hansard, 7th January 2003) [SPUC, 2 July]

A leading IVF specialist has called for regulations surrounding assisted reproductive technology to be harmonised throughout the European Union. Professor Paul Devroey, of Brussels Free University and chairman of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, says that many couples travel to obtain expensive treatments in countries where the rules are less restrictive than in their own. Differences in regulations concern embryo-freezing, egg donation, embryo-screening for diseases, and the number of embryos that may be implanted. He advocates the lifting of restrictions so that all may have access to the most efficient and safest practices. [Times, 2 July] SPUC is writing to MEPs and to the European Commission to object. John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "Professor Devroey's plans run counter to the right to life, to the principle of subsidiarity, to legal systems of European countries which insist on protection for children before they are born, and they would be a gross infringement of their national sovereignty. The manufacture of human beings through artificial reproduction is unethical and impractical. Fewer than 5% of human embryos created through IVF survive to birth, as they are exposed to dangers such as destructive experimentation, freezing, thawing, quality control testing and an increased miscarriage risk if they are implanted. If the EU wishes to improve the medical treatment available to infertile couples, it should be funding and promoting NaPro technology centres in every EU state. NaPro Technology offers an ethical, non-invasive and cost-effective alternative to IVF with a higher success rate than any method of artificial reproduction." [SPUC, 2 July]

Children with cerebral palsy experience life much as other children do, according to a study published in The Lancet, the UK medical journal. The study of 500 children with cerebral palsy in seven European countries was carried out at Newcastle University, England, and showed that their impairment was incorporated into their sense of themselves from birth and that they embraced life and all it had to offer with the same excitement as other children. Professor Allan Colver, who led the study, said that parents could be reassured that most children with this condition were as happy as other children. [Independent, 30 June]

A 16-year-old mother was told she should not wear her anti-abortion T-shirt to school, and threatened with exclusion if she did. Sarah Scott wore her shirt with the words 'abortion is murder' on a non-uniform day at her school in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She has become anti-abortion since the birth of her son four months ago, and argues that this is an infringement of her right to free speech. An Aberdeenshire council spokesman said: "It was felt the statement on the T-shirt was inappropriate in a school setting and had the potential to cause offence." [BBC, 29 June]

A team of Israeli scientists have extracted, artificially matured, and frozen eggs from girls aged five to 10, suffering from cancer. The treatment of childhood cancers has a high success rate, but the aggressive chemotherapy required leaves the patients infertile. Experts had thought the eggs of pre-pubescent girls could not be used in this way. The technique of removing, freezing, and later replacing ovarian tissue carries the risk of the tissue containing cancerous cells. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics pointed out that this procedure was an added burden for the child undergoing cancer treatment, and raises issues about donation should the child die. [Guardian, 2 July, and BBC, 2 July]

The abolition of abortion in Canada has been the top wish for a month on the Great Canadian Wish List set up on the Facebook website by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It remains in first place out of 2,950 wishes, with a membership of 8,311 supporters, fully 1,588 more supporters than the pro-abortion wish that Canada remain what is known as pro-choice (as of June 27, 2007). The poll was due to close yesterday. "The Facebook debate poses some interesting questions for the liberal media who portray the majority of Canadians as pro-abortion." says Natalie Hudson, executive director of the Right to Life Association of Toronto. [LifeSite, 29 June]

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