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Defending life from the moment of conception

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African leaders call for legal abortion

29 June 2007

The leaders of 10 African countries have called for the legalisation of abortion. Representatives from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia attended a three day conference in Nairobi which discussed maternal mortality. 21 African countries have now signed a protocol on women's rights that endorses legal abortions in the case of rape, incest and when the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the woman or the embryo. Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori, who is a Catholic, said: "The ratification of the protocol is high on Kenya's agenda. It is sad to learn that 68,000 women die of unsafe abortion each year and, out of these, 30,000 are in Africa. We could simply say there is one unsafe abortion for every seven live births in Africa." [LifeSite, 28 June] Patrick Buckley, SPUC's UN lobbyist, said: "This is yet another grave consequence of the Maputo Protocol which consists of a blatant attempt by the African Union to force all its member states to legalise abortion under the guise of reducing maternal mortality."

The United Nations has said that population growth in Uganda is harming the country's economy and development. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently published a report saying that Uganda's population was growing at 3.6% a year. Nestor Owomuhangi, UNFPA programme officer for Uganda, said: "Population is outstripping the capacity of government services to keep up with it. Seven percent GDP growth will be very difficult to reach ... There has to be a plan starting now or else in 50 years we're going to be 130 million people." [Reuters, 28 June]

A British court has ruled that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) unlawfully obtained warrants to search an IVF clinic. HFEA officials and police searched one of the clinics of Mohamed Taranissi, a controversial but successful fertility doctor, on the eve of a documentary on the subject produced by the BBC. The HFEA is in a year-long argument with Mr Taranissi over the renewing of his clinics' licences. The court ruled that Angela McNab, HFEA chief executive, provided inadequate information to magistrates to obtain the warrant. The HFEA will have to pay an estimated £1.3m in costs. [Guardian, 29 June]

The Australian state of New South Wales has passed a law legalising embryonic stem cell research. The bill was passed by 28 votes to 13. A number of high profile Catholic MPs supported the bill, including the Premier Morris Iemma and his deputy John Watkins, but the Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, who is a Catholic, abstained and four cabinet members voted against the legislation. [CNA on EWTN, 27 June]

An American man who was in a so-called persistent vegetative state (PVS) for a month has woken up and is on his way to recovery. Jesse Ramirez, who received a severe head injury in a car accident, can now reportedly nod his head, answer yes and no to questions, hug and kiss, give a thumbs-up sign and sit in a chair. Ten days after the accident and the PVS diagnosis, Mr Ramirez's wife Rebecca ordered the hospice where he was staying to remove his feeding tubes. Others members of his family successfully challenged the order and managed to get the tubes reinstated. [LifeSite, 28 June]

The first Canadian human embryonic stem cell bank is to be built at McMaster University. Hamilton businessman David Braley has donated $50m in order that this project and others could go ahead. He said: "I am enthusiastic about the commitment to human embryonic stem cells research. It is an investment in our top scientists who will help develop cures for terrible illnesses." [Bionity, 29 June]

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