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Soaring abortion figures hit record high

19 June 2007

The number of abortions carried out in Britain continues to rise and has exceeded 200,000 for the first time, according to figures for England and Wales published today by the Department of Health. [Department of Health, 19 June] SPUC has warned that the promotion of early abortion is putting the most vulnerable women at risk and has called on the Government to stop promoting abortion, particularly secret abortions for minors, and to end pro-abortion sex education. Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said: "Most people agree that there are far too many abortions already, and will be appalled at the latest increases. Unborn children deserve our care and protection from the earliest stages of pregnancy, and these figures reflect a tragedy of vast proportions for women and families. Gordon Brown [the next UK prime minister] should end the Labour government's policy of rushing women as quickly as possible through the abortion mill, in its frenzy to cut waiting times. " [SPUC, 19 June]

Amnesty's Irish section has decided to retain a neutral policy on abortion after Cardinal Martino stated that, by choosing to promote abortion, Amnesty had 'disqualified itself as a defender of human rights' and that Catholics should withdraw their support for Amnesty. Amnesty released a statement aggressively attacking the Catholic Church's stance, denying that it was promoting abortion as a right. [UK Fundraising, 18 June] Patrick Buckley of European Life Network, Dublin, said: "Amnesty are trying to have things both ways. The directors of the Irish branch are distancing themselves from the new international pro-abortion policy because they know it will severely diminish their fundraising efforts. They know the cardinal's call will be heeded by the Catholic community which donates the vast majority of Amnesty's Irish income and which amounted to €1.6 million in 2004."

The Academy of Medical Sciences has published a report backing the creation of human-animal hybrids to combat the shortage of human eggs available for research. The report claims that there is no serious ethical reason not to proceed with such research. Research is already permitted on human embryos up to 14 days' gestation. [Guardian, 18 June]

Danish researchers have found that offering all pregnant women non-invasive screening tests, including blood tests and ultrasound, has decreased the use of invasive techniques such as amniocentesis but has reduced the number of children born with Down's Syndrome by up to 50%. The Down's Syndrome Association warned in a report published last year that parents were being given very little information or support prior to undergoing pre-natal screening. [View London, 19 June]

A study conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Centre has suggested that allowing patients earlier palliative care leads to shorter stays in intensive care units. The current trend is for palliative care to begin very late in a patient's illness, often after all other treatments have been exhausted. The study is published in the June issue of Critical Care Medicine. [Medical News Today, 17 June]

A woman whose husband became the first Welshman to die at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland has called for a change in the law to allow assisted suicide in the UK. Paul Bennett had motor neuron disease and was afraid that he would choke to death. Michelle Bennett and her family were questioned by police when they returned to Wales after Mr Bennett had been helped to commit suicide but the case was dropped. [Western Mail, 19 June]

Research carried out at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, has suggested that a two-minute delay in cutting the umbilical cord could have health benefits for the newborn baby, including cutting the risk of anaemia. There are currently no guidelines in place as to the best time to cut the cord and medical experts are divided on the potential benefits of delaying. [Daily Mail, 17 June]

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