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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Cardinal Murphy O'Connor condemns abortion: "The taking of innocent life"

1 June 2007

The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, England, has supported Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland in his condemnation yesterday of abortion and his advice to politicians that they should search their consciences before receiving Holy Communion. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor called abortion the "taking of innocent life" and said: "I would urge all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the Church, and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity. The long-standing tradition of the Church teaches that anyone who freely and knowingly commits a serious wrong (that is, a mortal sin) should approach the Eucharist only after receiving faithfully the Sacrament of Penance." [Telegraph, 1 June] Mr Michael McMahon, Labour MSP for Lanarkshire, said: "The Catholic Church doesn't bend or sway to meet the position of individual politicians, doctors, or anyone, when it comes to life issues. Why would anyone consider it unusual for the Catholic Church to reiterate its 2000-year-old position?" [Daily Record, 1 June] Mr Peter Wishart, MP for Perth and Perthshire, was described as furious. He said: "Moral issues such as abortion should be left to the MP's individual conscience. The Catholic Church is of course entitled to its point of view on this issue but the last thing Scotland needs is to end up like the United States of America where churches and faith groups have an undue influence on political debate." He accused the Church of using underhand tactics to "try and stop equality legislation." [Courier, 1 June] Miss Ann Widdecombe, a Catholic Conservative MP for an English constituency, said: "[Cardinal O'Brien] is right that abortion is a fundamental issue of doctrine in the Catholic Church rather than a rule, and Catholic MPs should be upholding the teachings of the Church when it comes to voting." [Times, 1 June]

The Mexico Supreme Court has accepted a petition to review the recently passed law which legalises abortion in Mexico City. The National Human Rights' Commission says the law violates a constitutional clause guaranteeing the right to life, and that city legislators do not have the authority to approve measures related to health. The mayor of Mexico City has said the petition has no legal base and is a manoevure to satisfy "certain public opinion." The votes of eight of the court's 11 justices would be required to overturn the law. [Medical News Today, 31 May]

Pakistan's delegate to a pro-abortion UN committee has told members that abortion is murder. The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) questioned Mauritania, Mozambique, Pakistan, Serbia, Sierra Leone and Syria on their abortion laws:. When questioned about her country's position on abortion, the Pakistan delegate told the committee that "abortion is considered murder once a foetus is conceived." Abortion is not mentioned in the committee's treaty which committee members claim is "abortion neutral", but CEDAW committee chair Dubravka Simonovic said in a joint panel discussion with the Centre for Reproductive Rights that she believes abortion rights are "in the spirit of the treaty." [LifeSite, 31 May]

4,000 caesareans could be prevented in England and Wales if pregnant women had more information about giving birth, according to British researchers. Scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Dundee studied 742 women at four maternity units in south west England and Scotland who had undergone a Caesarean. [BMJ on AP on Guardian, 1 June]

An American doctor who has served eight years in prison for helping ill people to commit suicide has been released from jail. Dr Jack Kevorkian, 79, was convicted of second degree murder by a Michigan jury after he videotaped himself administering lethal drugs to Thomas Youk, 52, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease, and sent the tape to 60 Minutes, the American news show. He is thought to have assisted in many other deaths during the 1990s. It is expected that Dr Kevorkian will be an outspoken advocate for the legalisation of assisted suicide. [Reuters, 1 June]

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