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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Cardinal to meet with Catholic MPs to discuss Embryo Bill in Parliament

29 November 2007

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, is planning a meeting with Catholic MPs to discuss the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill currently before the UK Parliament, The Times newspaper reports. All 64 voting Catholic MPs have been invited to the meeting which will raise 'issues likely to come before the House in the new session of Parliament'. A free vote on the government-sponsored bill is not expected for Labour MPs, but Mr David Amess, chairman of the all-party group on the Holy See, welcomed the Cardinal's action: "I think it is a very good thing. Having been in Parliament when we have had these debates before, on occasions some colleagues have felt very disappointed that, for instance, Church leaders - and that includes the Catholic Church - have not been more vociferous". [Times, 26 November]

SPUC is promoting the Society's work through a dedicated group on Facebook, one of the world's most popular social networking websites. The group's profile page is updated frequently with the latest news, and features photos, a discussion board and a comments wall. Members are sent occasional lobbying alerts to their Facebook inboxes. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary and the group's administrator, commented: "SPUC is committed to using all modern forms of communication to spread the pro-life message as widely as possible. The group's membership has almost tripled over the last month, and ranges from medics, clergy and academics, to of course students, the majority of people on Facebook." As with all other Facebook groups, people wishing to join SPUC's Facebook group must first join Facebook, which is free and open to the general public. [SPUC Facebook group]

Cura, the Catholic Church in Ireland's crisis pregnancy charity, will continue to receive government funding despite recent disagreements over the provision of information on abortion. Cura will receive €2.2 million over the next two years under a new service agreement which states "Any service provider wishing to exercise a conscientious objection to the provision of this information [about abortion referral] may do so. Where a pregnant woman. . . requests act [sic] information, an appropriate referral must be made". The government's Crisis Pregnancy Agency issues a leaflet ('Positive Options') which lists all state-funded agencies including those referring for abortion; however, Mr Martin Long, director of the Catholic Communications Office, said "We don't give the leaflet out, and are not obliged to give out the leaflet under the service level agreement". [Sunday Business Post, 25 November]

A study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has found that smoking during pregnancy can cause initial tests for Down's Syndrome to show a false positive result. Women shown to by these tests to be likely to be carrying a foetus with Down's Syndrome may then undergo amniocentesis screening, which carries a risk of miscarriage. [Daily Mail, 26 November]

A report due to be issued next week is likely to indicate a rise in maternal mortality rates in the UK. The report by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health, which is an independent body managed by eight Royal Medical Colleges, is published every three years. It is expected to show that deaths linked to childbirth rose in the triennium 2003-2005, as compared to 2000-2002. Factors in the increased mortality rate are said to include obesity and a growing tendency for mothers to be older, which increases complications. A spokesman for the Department of Health said that the UK was one of the safest places in the world to have a baby. [Telegraph, 26 November]

A study has been published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons investigating links between miscarriage and appendectomy during pregnancy. The study has found that negative appendectomy (the removal of a normal appendix) increases the risk of foetal loss, and that risks are also higher in cases of complicated appendicitis than of normal appendicitis. It is suggested that techniques such as ultrasound should be more widely used to ensure a correct diagnosis before a pregnant woman is operated on for appendicitis. [Reuters, 23 November]

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