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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Worldwide abortion struggle laid bare at World Health Assembly

24 May 2007

A culture war that is being waged in international institutions such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations has come to the fore at the annual World Health Assembly which is currently underway in Switzerland. The assembly is the supreme decision-making body for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is attended by delegations from all of WHO's 192 member-states. Pat Buckley, lobbying on behalf of SPUC at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, reports: "Ms Thoraya Obaid, the head of the UN Population Fund, alleged that poor sexual and reproductive health was a leading cause of death in the developing world. However, according to WHO statistics, 84% of deaths of women and girls worldwide are due to causes not related to sexual and reproductive health. It should be noted that WHO defines 'reproductive health' as including a right to abortion on demand." [Pro-Life Intelligence 23 May]

The Irish teenager, known only as Miss D, who won a high court battle to travel to England for an abortion has returned to Ireland. Miss D's severely disabled baby was killed by late term chemical abortion and is expected to be buried in Ireland. A poll by the Irish Independent found that two-thirds of voters agreed with abortion if the unborn child was 'non-viable' and Miss D said she was "very happy that people feel that way". [Irish Independent, 22 May] Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) will examine procedures and statutory powers to see if changes are necessary in the light of the Miss D ruling. The baby's brain was partially undeveloped and he or she would probably have had a very short life expectancy. The HSE said it would pay for Miss D's travel if required. [Sunday Business Post, 13 May]

The US conference of Catholic bishops has issued a rebuke to a group of 18 Democratic legislators who objected to a statement by Pope Benedict that lawmakers who support abortion should not receive the Eucharist. The bishops say that the legislators' statement "both misrepresents the Holy Father's remarks and implies that the church does not have a right to voice its teaching in the public square." [EWTN 22 May] Ms Frances Kissling, head of the so-called Catholics for a Free Choice, is reported as all but begging the US bishops to excommunicate her, while claiming that her 'right' to support abortion is enshrined in Canon law. She says "No one who could actually excommunicate me has ever done so," and says that, if she were excommunicated, "I could get a book contract, go on a speaking tour and have a couple years of celebrity." [Life Site News 23 May]

The parents of a boy who was diagnosed at 30 weeks' gestation with trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) and was born with heart and lung problems have published a video about the 99 days of his survival after birth. Knowing his life would be short, Eliot Mooney's parents celebrated their son's "birthday" every day, noting significant developments in his life. [Life Site News 23 May]

Emilio Gonzales, aged 19 months, has died naturally in the Children's Hospital of Austin, Texas. Emilio, who was believed to have Leigh's disease, a condition which destroys brain function and eventually results in death, had been on a respirator and tube fed since December 2006. His mother, Catarina Gonzales fought in court to prevent doctors from withdrawing treatment, food and fluids, after they declared there was no hope for his recovery, under the Texas "Futile Care Law." Ms Gonzales said she knew her son would eventually die, but did not want doctors to hasten his death. [Life Site News 22 May]

A US study involving 7,688 pregnant nurses has found that those who only work nights in early pregnancy are 60% more likely to have a miscarriage than nurses who work only days. Those who work more than 40 hours per week have a 50% increased risk of miscarriage. Experts are unclear about the reasons for this, but point to the disruption in circadian rhythms caused by working nights. [Nursing Standard 23 May]

60-year-old Mrs Frieda Bimbaum of New Jersey is thought to have become the oldest woman in the US to give birth to twins who were delivered by caesarean section. Mrs Bimbaum underwent in-vitro fertilization in South Africa last year. [Sky News 23 May]

The US Food and Drug Administration has backed continuous use of a pill called Lybrel which, taken daily, can halve a woman's menstrual periods indefinitely as well as preventing pregnancies. However, it may be difficult for women to recognise if they have become pregnant, because they will not have regular periods. Jean Elson, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire, said: "Why medicate away a normal life event if we're not sure of the long-term effects?" [BBC 23 May]

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