Minister: There's a pro-life plot to hijack legislation
8 May 2007
British Health Minister Caroline Flint has said in a leaked memo to Prime Minister Tony Blair that pro-life members of parliament are "plotting" to "hijack" a Government Bill to reduce the time limit for some abortions. She said "There is a possibility that some members (of parliament) may wish to use the opportunity presented by the draft (Human Tissue and Embryos Bill) to discuss wider issues dealt with by the original legislation... and related topics of interest, notably abortion..." Labour MP Jim Dobbin, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said he had more support than ever and "I believe there will be a serious attempt to change the law." The Marie Stopes abortion organisation argued that abortions at 20 or more weeks are "rare", making up about 3,000 or 1.6 per cent of the annual total. [Daily Mail 6 May][Daily Express 8 May]
Leading family doctors in Cambridge are supporting the right of doctors to refuse to provide abortions, in response to a survey in Pulse magazine which showed growing opposition to abortion by doctors. Dr Mike Knapton, a family doctor, said "I think it is absolutely right doctors who have moral or religious objections to this treatment should have the right not to provide this service. It is only right and proper GPs (general practitioners) make it known [that] patients can see another doctor for assessment." A spokesman for Marie Stopes International said "it lends fuel to the argument that we should take doctors out of the picture." [Cambridge Evening News 4 May] Comment: "SPUC has warned that the publicity around doctors who exercise their legal and moral right to conscientious objection, will be used by the pro-abortion lobby as a pretext for arguing that less highly qualified staff should be allowed to perform abortions. As well as resisting this, doctors must continue to resist the pressure to refer on for abortions - otherwise their moral and legal position will quickly be eroded."
The Irish High Court will decide tomorrow whether Miss D, a 17 year old girl in care, who is almost 18 weeks pregnant and whose unborn child has been diagnosed as having anencephaly, may travel to the UK for an abortion. James Connolly, the lawyer representing the unborn child, said Miss D's baby was a live foetus entitled to the constitutional protection for the unborn, and the fact that the baby probably will not survive long after birth is "irrelevant." [Irish Times 8 May] [Evening Echo 7 May]
Precious Life, a pro-life group in Northern Ireland, has asked police to investigate a senior midwife in the province, claiming she broke the law by taking part in abortions. The midwife made comments in a newspaper interview almost three years ago, in which she admitted carrying out abortions for foetal disability. A statement issued on behalf of the midwife by the Royal College of Midwives said: "In common with many midwives in Northern Ireland, she has during the course of her career participated in abortions for foetal abnormality. Given the lack of clarity in relation to the law in respect of abortion in Northern Ireland, it is impossible to state with any degree of certainty which procedure is legal ..." [Belfast Telegraph 6 May]
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has granted the first-ever licence for embryo screening for a cosmetic defect. The licence was granted to Prof Gedis Grudzinskas of the Bridge Centre family clinic in London to help a businessman and his wife, both of whom have squints, to create a baby without the condition. Prof Gudzinskas said that he would seek to screen embryos for any genetic factor that would cause a family "severe distress" including hair colour. [Daily Telegraph 7 May]