weekly update, 18 to 24 July
24 July 2007
weekly update, 18 to 24 July The United Kingdom government says it has no plans to change Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion law and would expect the province's assembly to take over legislation in this area. Mr Paul Goggins MP, a UK minister responsible for Northern Ireland, declared the policy in written answers to MPs' questions. [News Letter, 18 July ] Mrs Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "Until the power to decide abortion legislation rests with the Assembly, pro-abortion MPs who do not represent anyone in Northern Ireland will be able to impose the Abortion Act on the people here. The pro-abortion position dominates the House of Commons. Any attempt to modify the Act is likely to result in many more abortions. Some MPs have declared their intention to push for the extension of the Act to Northern Ireland when the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill is debated later this year. If the violence of the Troubles is not to be replaced by the violence of abortion, it is vital that members of the public write to Gordon Brown urging him not to allow any liberalisation of the Abortion Act." [SPUC, 19 July ] Women in Scotland should be offered abortions quickly, under a series of state health service draft guidelines. People with problems such as acute sexually-transmitted infections and women wanting emergency contraception should be referred for treatment within 48 hours, it is suggested. Most women seeking an abortion should have the procedure before 10 weeks' gestation and under-24 year olds who are sexually active should be tested for chlamydia, the recommendations say. A spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: "These are the redundant ideas of an ideological mantra. No matter how widely, easily or speedily available so-called sexual health services are made, all the evidence suggests they have no impact." [BBC Online, 17 July ] John Smeaton, SPUC national director, commented: "Government policy of improving access to abortion puts women facing crisis pregnancies under even greater pressure to abort and seeks to reduce abortion to a trivial procedure." A British couple who have a family history of breast cancer have reportedly won the right to screen their embryos for a gene that may trigger the disease. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) gave them the licence, which is the first of its kind in Britain. Gemma Wilkie, a spokeswoman for the HFEA, said: "I can confirm that the HFEA have granted a licence to University College Hospital in London to use PGD to screen for the BRCA gene which causes a susceptibility to inherited breast cancer. We have also received a further application for this condition which is still being considered." [Times, 21 July ] Alison Davis of No Less Human said: "This case clearly shows yet again that, once killing is allowed for any reason, it is likely eventually to be extended to allow more and more killing, all in the name of supposedly 'preventing suffering.' The HFEA first allowed PGD 'only' for conditions it considered 'severe' and which inevitably caused disability. Now it has allowed it for a condition which has only 80% penetration. We can guess what will happen next, but the wrongness is not in the effects of the slippery slope but in the fact that it was allowed to start in the first place. The only ethical way to proceed is to stop trying to deal with disabling conditions by killing those who have them, and to welcome every child into the world." 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.