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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Praise for new pro-life film Bella

17 May 2007

A new pro-life feature film, Bella, has been released by Metanoia Films. It is the story of a young expectant mother wrestling with an abortion decision. It won the People's Choice Award in Toronto in September 2006. Colin Mason, media director for Population Research Institute, praised the film and called on pro-lifers to support it so that it could be shown in US cinemas. "Without pontificating or moralizing, the movie is artistically direct, viscerally powerful, and steadfastly pro-life," he said. [CNA on EWTN, 15 May]

Amongst the measures included in the draft Human Tissue and Embryo Bill published today by the UK Department of Health is permission for scientists to create, under licence, human-animal hybrids for research into serious diseases. Pressure from scientists persuaded ministers not to ban the process as originally intended. Other measures include a prohibition of sex selection of embryos for non-medical reasons, and removing the requirement to consider a child's need for a father when offering IVF. [BBC, 17 May] SPUC has criticised the government's plans to sanction so-called cytoplasmic hybrids (human clones made with animal ova), and other aspects of the bill. Section 17(2) lists a number of procedures for combining human and animal genetic material, including germ-line genetic manipulation of human embryos and the creation of human-animal chimaeras.

A Polish mother living in Scotland, who refused treatment for skin cancer for the sake of her unborn child, has died. Anna Radosz had had a malignant melanoma removed but, when she was six months pregnant, she suffered a relapse. When her son was delivered at 36 weeks, the cancer had spread to her lungs. She was hoping to go to America to try a pioneering gene therapy, the funds for which had been given by well-wishers, but died while on a visit to Poland. [Scotsman, 17 May]

Mr Tony Blair, the British prime minister, will today launch the Nurse Family Partnership programme to support young, first-time mothers whose babies are identified as being most at risk from social exclusion in later life. Voluntary pilot schemes will be carried out in 10 areas. Each mother will be assigned a health visitor who will visit at least every two weeks from 16 weeks after conception until the baby is two years old, to advise on health matters and parenting. The programme is based on that pioneered in America by Prof. David Olds, but he warns that the benefits might not be so great in the UK. [Guardian, 16 May]

All pregnant women and infants in New Jersey will be required to be tested for HIV, unless they choose in writing not to, if a bill introduced in the state senate is passed. Current state law requires that the tests be offered to pregnant women. [Medical News Today, 16 May]

The Senate of South Carolina has approved a bill that would enable, but not require, women seeking abortion to see an ultrasound image of their babies, and to have a time of reflection before going ahead with the abortion, according to the Guardian. This is a compromise for the bill passed earlier by the House of Representatives that would have required women to view ultrasound images. Current state law already requires that women be given information about foetal development and alternatives to abortion. [Guardian, 17 May]

Responding to the Pope's statement that Catholic politicians who favour abortion should not receive Communion, Republican presidential candidate Mr Rudy Giuliani said that he resolves such issues privately, with his confessor. [CNA on EWTN, 15 May]

Schering Health Care, manufacturers of the Levonelle morning-after pill, has entered a partnership with the mobile agency Incentivated to launch a marketing campaign, netimperative reports. Women in London, UK, will be able to use their mobile phones to locate their nearest supplier of the drug, which according to Schering induces an early abortion in some users. Robert Thurner of Incentivated claimed the service would spare women embarrassment. [netimperative, 15 May]

The number of cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Netherlands has dropped sharply since 2001, when it was legalised, according to a government-funded report. Most doctors attribute this decrease to better palliative care. The doctors' lobby group, the Royal Netherlands Society for Health Promotion, said in a statement that the law has been successful in achieving greater transparency because 80% of euthanasia cases are now reported, whereas six years ago only 54% were reported. [AP on Guardian, 11 May]

The Wisconsin appeals court has ruled against a pharmacist who wanted to exercise his conscientious objection to providing contraceptives. Wal-Mart had agreed that Mr Neil Noeson would only be required to serve the needs of male customers and women of non-childbearing age, but he was denied permission to avoid answering the telephone, though he could pass on requests for contraception to other members of staff. Mr Noeson had brought a lawsuit for religious discrimination. The ruling declared that accommodating Noesen's request would impose undue hardship on Wal-Mart. [LifeSite, 9 May]

Nearly 200 schoolgirls in North Staffordshire, England, have been given the morning-after pill by school nurses since a scheme was set up by the local health authority in 2003. The annual rate has risen from 19 in the first year to 84 in 2006. Our source quoted a SPUC spokesman as saying: "The answer to various modern problems isn't to make birth control and abortion more widely available but to have a culture which values human life." [The Sentinel, 9 May] Pupils at Lutterworth Grammar School, Leicestershire, which has been criticised for giving out 345 morning-after pills in the last four years, have expressed support on a website for their headmaster. They point out that the Strictly Confidential service was set up four years ago, and Mr Eddie De Middelaer has only been at the school a year. They think he was right to keep the service. [Leicester Mercury, 9 May]

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