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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Care attacks MPs' pro-abortion report

2 November 2007

A pro-life group has criticised the UK House of Commons' science and technology committee's report on abortion. The Care organisation reportedly says that the work was flawed because MPs declared at the outset that they did not intend to consider ethical or moral issues. Mr Phil Willis MP, who chaired the committee and supports its report, said: "Two hundred thousand abortions a year really is saying to the government and saying to the UK that current policies in terms of sex education, in terms of contraception, in terms of sexual health, are not working... The real challenge for government is not to argue around 24 or 23 weeks, but how, in fact, do we get down this monstrous total to a level which is acceptable to society?" [Ekklesia, 1 November] Mr Jim Dobbin MP, of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, commented: "The narrowness of the inquiry in refusing to consider ethical arguments surrounding abortion is deeply worrying. Abortion is an ethical and social issue as well as a scientific one. We believe there is a clear scientific case to be made to reduce the upper limit for social abortions from 24 weeks." [Daily Mail, 31 October] Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary commented: "Although the inquiry stated that ethical concerns were off their agenda, they clearly started from the presumption that fetal viability is a morally significant fact. Their pro-abortion bias is clear from the fact that they recommended no limit on abortions that currently take place up to birth - on disability and other grounds - under the Abortion Act. There is no "scientific" case for permitting abortion up to any particular stage of pregnancy."

The Royal College of Nursing has published on its website an official response to the Science and Technology Committee's report which concurs with all its main recommendations. The RCN states "There is no other medical or surgical procedure which requires the consent of a medical practitioner or the signature of two doctors before it is carried out." [Royal College of Nursing, 31 October] Comment: "The RCN has been criticised for failing to consult widely with its members before promoting nurses as abortion practitioners. The latest statement seems absurd in its implication that doctors have no say in what medical treatment their patients receive."

Pope Benedict's prayer-intention for this month is "That those dedicated to medical research and all those engaged in legislative activity may always have deep respect for human life, from its beginning to its natural conclusion." [LifeSite, 31 October] Some Italian politicians have criticised the Pope's recent public statement that pharmacists should have the right of conscientious objection to dispensing abortifacient drugs. Ms Livia Turco, health minister, said: "I don't think his warning to pharmacists to be conscientious objectors to the morning after pill should be taken into consideration." Ms Lidia Menapace, a communist senator, said: "The Pope's appeal to pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning after pill is a very heavy interference in politics and Italian life". [LifeSite, 31 October]

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute has pointed out that UN agencies calling for a "right to abortion" base their arguments on maternal death statistics which they themselves admit are either lacking or unreliable. A 2005 report on maternal mortality by UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and the World Bank said there was a lack of reliable data from developing countries. Yet 99% of the maternal deaths they estimate are said to occur in such countries. Dr Joseph Chamie, former head of the UN statistics divisions said the figures can't be proved. UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA were involved in the recent Women Deliver conference which called for a global right to abortion in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals target for reducing maternal mortality. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 1 November]

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