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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 2 to 8 May

8 May 2007

weekly update, 2 to 8 May 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 ] In a poll of 309 family doctors in Britain, 24% said they did not sign abortion referral forms and 19% thought that abortion should not be legal. Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service discounted the poll as being too small to be representative. [Sky, 3 May and Telegraph, 3 May ] One such doctor, Dr Tammie Downes from West Cornwall, said that, when women came to her seeking abortion, she gave them all the information they needed, and encouraged them to discuss their decision with someone else. About one third of the women she talks to decide to keep their babies. [Daily Mail, 2 May ] The body which represents family doctors could review its rules on conscientious objection in the light of the survey. Dr Ann McPherson of the Royal College of General Practitioners was quoted as saying that doctors should not be allowed to opt out because of their beliefs. Abortion was part of the job. Both the college and the British Medical Association asserted their support for legal abortion. [Guardian, 3 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 ] Pro-life organisations in Britain have warned that a $400 test which can tell an unborn baby's gender at six weeks could lead to more abortion. Life and the Pro-Life Alliance both warned that children could be aborted because their sex was not the one the parents wanted. Gender may be determined through scanning at 20 weeks and some hospitals will not disclose that information. [Sun, 4 May ] An SPUC spokesman said: "Information about unborn babies can help parents bond with their children, but we'd be worried if it was used as a pretext to destroy them." It is asserted that Amnesty International has secretly changed its policy on abortion from neutrality to one which regards the procedure as a right. Mr Ryan Anderson of First Things is reported as saying that Amnesty's restricted-access website contains pro-abortion policy and that text on the same site forbids publication for the time being. [LifeSite, 3 May ] Controversy continues about the practice in five Leicestershire schools of providing morning-after pills to girls without parental consent. Mr Andrew Robathan MP, whose constituency includes the Lutterworth school which has dispensed the highest number of pills for schools in Britain, said the situation was a depressing reflection on modern society. Mr David Tredinnick MP, called the practice sensible. The head teachers of all the schools have defended the policy. A spokesman for the Leicestershire Teenage Pregnancy Partnership claimed that teenage pregnancies in the county had reduced by nearly a fifth since 1998, and remain below the national average. [Leicester Mercury, 2 May ]

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