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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Peter Singer: Wrong to kill kangeroos, OK to kill unborn children

25 May 2007

Prof Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, has criticised a proposed cull of kangaroos in Australia, saying that it is not ethically justifiable because the kangaroos are not in distress. Animal rights campaigners have proposed a cull of more than 3,000 of the 6,500 kangaroos which live on the outskirts of Australia's capital, Canberra. [Guardian, 24 May] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary who grew up in Canberra, commented: "What this story omits to report is that Peter Singer believes that human life should only have the same level of protection as the lives of kangaroos. Singer believes that, if a particular human is deemed not to be sentient and capable of enjoying his or her life, it's better for him or her to be killed. The kangaroo may be Australia's national symbol but a human being has more intrinsic dignity than an animal, especially more than one which is also widely considered to be a pest."

Controversial language concerning reproductive health appears in the 2008-14 Medium Term Health Strategy published by the World Health Assembly. The US, supported by Paraguay, El Salvador, Malta, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, opposed the attempt to suggest the existence of a new human right to abortion, or to compel member states to expand the availability of legal abortion. The assembly met from 14 to 23 May to determine policy for the World Health Organisation. [Pro-Life Intelligence, 24 May]

A woman who was convicted of aborting her seven-and-a-half month old unborn baby has been given a suspended sentence at Manchester, England, crown court. Ms Maisha Mohammed, 22, is the first expectant mother in Britain to have been convicted of destroying a child capable of being born alive. [Manchester Evening News, 24 May]

The parliamentary committee on the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill has called for evidence as it starts its analysis of the proposed legislation. Two of the issues it will be considering are the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos, and the sex selection of embryos. Mr Phil Willis MP, chairman of the committee, said it was important to take the bill forward in the correct way to ensure Britain continued to be a world leader in medical research. [Register, 24 May]

The European Union's working time directive, which reduces doctors' working hours, could result in the closure of up to one third of England's maternity units, the UK's opposition Conservative party claims. A number of consultant-led units have been earmarked for closure in favour of home-births or local units staffed by midwives. Many women with complications would have to travel further for specialist care. [Times, 24 May]

An inquest has found that a baby boy who died 10 days after being delivered in an attempted abortion was the victim of an illegal abortion. His mother, Zhimin Tang, 19, presented herself at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, England, after taking pills she had obtained from China, saying she had changed her mind and wanted to keep her baby. Attempts to save the baby failed. Miss Tang was arrested and bailed, but has since disappeared. No charges have been brought. [Metro, 25 May]

A man who suffocated his wife after she pleaded with him to help her die has been given a life sentence for murder at Liverpool Crown Court, England. Mr Frank Lund admitted killing his wife, Patricia, who had suffered from depression since the 1970s. Mr Lund had the support of his late wife's relatives. [BBC, 24 May]

New guidelines from the Department of Health advise that women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should not drink any alcohol. This brings Britain into line with many other countries, including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A spokesman for the department said the advice was not based on new scientific evidence, but had been given because many women exceeded the recommended limit. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said it intended to stick with its advice that moderate drinking was safe. [Independent, 25 May]

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