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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Illegal abortion drug trading taking place in the UK

23 November 2007

BBC journalists have found evidence of illegal trading in abortion-inducing drugs in Britain. An undercover journalist claiming to be pregnant obtained a herbal drug from a Chinese herbalist in London, who was also able to supply the RU486 prescription abortion drug on the black market. She was also able to buy similar drugs smuggled from Turkey and Fiji via Poland. It is illegal in Britain to peddle prescription drugs or for unlicensed persons to aid an abortion. These illegal abortions are said to affect mainly illegal immigrants who fear detection or cannot afford to pay for a legal abortion, and teenagers who are reluctant to go to their doctors. The BBC's Radio 5 is to broadcast a programme on the issue entitled Britain's Backstreet Abortions this Sunday. [BBC, 23 November] Mr Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC, commented "Many years ago we began warning of the danger of RU486 being distributed illegally. Those calling for a widening of the abortion law could well worsen the problem by creating a culture where abortion is regarded as morally and medically unrestricted. Suggestions like abolishing any need for a medical reason for an abortion are likely to increase the pressures on women in difficult circumstances to resort to abortion, especially when they are not aware of the support available from pro-life groups." [SPUC, 23 November]

SPUC will continue to campaign against the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which passed without a vote to the next stage in the House of Lords. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said that they would support whatever parliamentary action was most likely to defeat the bill, and noted that many of the bill's provisions have been made redundant by advances in adult stem-cell research. [SPUC, 21 November]

The Pope has expressed concern that pro-abortion agencies are undermining family life in Africa. Speaking to the bishops of Kenya, Benedict XVI called on them to remind their people that the right to life is absolute and applies to all without exception. He also called on the Catholic community to support women in crisis pregnancies, and welcome back those who repent of having participated in abortions. [Zenit, 19 November]

The office of the Anglican Archbishop of York has responded to an article in the Guardian newspaper criticising the role of religious leaders in the House of Lords debate on the human fertilisation and embryology bill. Arun Arora emphasised in a letter to the newspaper that criticism of the bill and defence of the concept of children's need for fathers came from a broad spectrum of peers. [Guardian, 23 November]

In an on-line poll of 1,983 adults in the UK, 43% of Catholics agreed that abortion should be legal for women who have unwanted pregnancies. The poll was conducted by YouGov for the US-based group Catholics for Choice, which will brief members of parliament on its findings. [Channel 4, 22 November] John Smeaton, SPUC national director, commented: "Catholics For a Free Choice is a bogus organisation - for a start, it's not Catholic. It's like having an organisation called 'Vegetarians For Eating Meat'. The CFFC/YouGov poll was not a poll of practising Catholics and therefore the claims made by CFFC on the back of this poll have no credibility."

The Portuguese health minister has announced his intention to prosecute the Portuguese Medical Association over its refusal to remove articles condemning abortion from its ethical code in order to conform to the new law permitting abortion. Mr Antonio Correia de Campos said "Anyone can have his own personal or collective code of ethics, but collective codes of ethics cannot go against the general law of the country." Dr Pedro Nunes, president of the association, has said that the code will not be applied against doctors who do perform abortions, and has acknowledged the possibility that members might vote to change it. [LifeSite, 22 November]

The Chinese government has announced plans to reward families who have adhered to its one-child policy. Such families are to receive preferential assistance with housing, training programmes, technological development and poverty benefits. The one-child policy has been widely criticised for its coercive implementation. In an attempt to redress the gender imbalance caused by the policy combined with cultural preferences for boys, families are now to be allowed a second child if the first is a girl.[LifeSite, 22 November]

An appeals court in Texas has ruled that laws allowing prosecution for the murder of a foetus do not conflict with the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling which declared that a woman has a right to an abortion. Terence Lawrence had appealed against his conviction for causing the death of a four-to-six week foetus on the grounds that abortion cases show the state has no 'compelling interest' to interfere before the foetus is viable. The court ruled that "the Legislature is free to protect the lives of those whom it considers to be human beings" and that the Roe v. Wade ruling applies only when a woman wants an abortion. [Guardian, 22 November]

The Marie Curie Cancer Care charity has called on the UK government to make it possible for more terminally ill people to die at home. The charity has piloted a scheme in Lincolnshire, to enable patients to be cared for in their own homes until death. The charity estimates that the cost of care went down by eight percent, and hopes that the National Health Service will implement the programme in other regions. It is believed that currently about 64% of patients want to die at home, but only 25% do so. [BBC, 22 November]

Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, a leading prelate in Chile, has described the government's action in compelling pharmaceutical chains to sell the morning-after pill as "highly undemocratic... when we're not talking about medicine". The cardinal said that the morning-after pill "isn't medicine because it cures no disease", as "pregnancy isn't an illness". Two of Chile's major pharmaceutical firms have agreed to sell the drug after being threatened with heavy fines, but a third, Salcobrand, is still refusing to do so. [LifeSite, 22 November]

Scientists at Yale University, US, have concluded that babies as young as six months can evaluate the behaviour of others. A test was devised in which babies would choose between a helper and a hinderer; nearly all chose the former. Kiley Hamlin, one of the team, said that this social evaluation of behaviour is an important stage in developing a moral system. [BBC, 21 November]

A man who campaigned with the international organisation Ipas to decriminalise abortion in Nicaragua, has been convicted of raping his step-daughter and sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 2003, Francisco Fletes cooperated with pro-abortion feminist groups in Nicaragua to secure an abortion for his nine year old step-daughter, and later campaigned unsuccessfully for the decriminalisation of abortion in Chile. Four more years of abuse resulted in another pregnancy, which was not aborted, and Mr Fletes confessed to rape. [LifeSite, 21 November]

A couple had to deliver their baby in a car when they arrived at a UK hospital to find the reception unstaffed, the Sun newspaper reports. Mr Philip Allison helped Ms Vicky Kitching, his girlfriend, to give birth to their daughter outside Hull Women's and Children's Hospital. The health authority has apologised. [Sun, 23 November]

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