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International outcry over Amnesty pro-abortion stance

29 May 2007

Australian members of Amnesty International have expressed their disappointment over the organisation's new pro-abortion stance. Many of AI's numerous Christian members are "lining up to resign" according to school principal Fr Chris Middleton. "As a Catholic priest and the Principal of a school with an active Amnesty group, such a change in policy places me in the unwanted position of contemplating the closing down of Amnesty's presence in the school," he said. AI currently has 500 groups in Christian schools, many of which it may lose. Church leaders in other countries have also criticised AI's new policy. Canada's Catholic bishops said: "Such a change in policy would be considered by the Catholic Bishops of Canada to be a step backwards for an organization that has done such outstanding work in defending human life and the rights of the most vulnerable. This change in policy would make it difficult for Catholics to continue supporting the work of Amnesty International". Their statement follows a similar response from the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. [LifeSite, 28 May]

A survey commissioned by the UK health ministry has found that unqualified maternity support workers are being used as a substitute for trained midwives in some parts of the country. With Britain facing a shortage of up to 3,000 midwives, the intended purpose of maternity support workers is to relieve midwives of paperwork. However, reports suggest they sometimes carry out jobs such as internal examinations and ultrasound scans, as well as providing night cover in birth units. [Telegraph, 29 May]

New warning labels on alcoholic drinks will include advice to pregnant women, the British Department of Health has announced. The labels, which will give details of the number of units of alcohol in each drink and safe drinking levels for men and women, will also carry a warning that pregnant women or those trying to conceive should consume no alcohol at all. [Reuters, 28 May]

The Attorney General of Mexico is challenging Mexico City's new law permitting abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in the nation's supreme court. Mr Eduardo Medino Mora has submitted a motion that the law is unconstitutional. An 8 out of 11 majority in the Supreme Court is required to open the law to debate. Mr Medina will be arguing the pro-life case together with the president of the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico, José Luis Soberanes Fernández. [Reuters on LifeSite, 28 May]

The Brazilian government is to fund the distribution of contraceptive pills to poor women, José Temporao, the health minister, announced yesterday. The pills will be available in pharmacies across the country at a 90% discount, making the cost equivalent to 20 US cents. The government also wants more men to take advantage of the free vasectomies it offers. Mr Temporao has also suggested placing legislation that would legalise abortion before Congress. [Reuters on Scotsman, 28 May] Some birth control substances may cause early abortion.

An increasing number of Chinese families are using fertility drugs to defeat the government's one-child policy by having multiple births. A BBC journalist found that fertility drugs were cheaply available over the counter in a rural village, and that hospital records show a large number of women giving birth to twins and triplets. The need for farming-families to have more than one child to help till the land is thought to be one factor. In some provinces, such as Guanxi, there have been violent confrontations between locals and government officials over enforcement of the one-child policy. [BBC, 25 May]

Researchers at the University of Texas and the University of Newcastle, UK, have succeeded in growing insulin-producing cells from umbilical cord stem cells. It is hoped that the technique can eventually be used to treat sufferers of diabetes using adult stem cells. [Reuters, 25 May]

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