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Defending life from the moment of conception

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EU "must protect right to life from conception"

27 September 2007

The European Union (EU) must protect the right to life from conception, according to the Catholic Archbishop of Zadar, Croatia. Speaking at a meeting about his country's role in a united Europe, Most Rev Ivan Prenđa also said that the EU should protect families from recent legislative attacks. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director who is at the conference in Zagreb, the capital, said: "Archbishop Prenđa 's vision of the Catholic church's contribution to Europe is inspirational for the pro-life movement throughout the world." Dr Mario Živković, director of the Family Centre, Zagreb, also at the meeting, said: "Croatia's values are not only religious. We also bring ethical values to Europe and these are universal values which carry with them both rights and obligations, especially the right to life from conception." Dr Michael Weninger of Austria, adviser on religious affairs to Mr José Manuel Barroso, the EU's president, also addressed the conference which was organised by the Croatian government. [SPUC, 27 September]

Inspections of 23 British hospitals found that some fail to treat the elderly with enough dignity despite saying they met government standards, a PA report in the Guardian claims. The Healthcare Commission found that, while there were no serious breaches of the government's set standards for care, only five of the hospitals investigated met acceptable standards for dignity, privacy and nutrition. 10 hospitals were told to make improvements. Mixed-sex wards, lack of help with eating and being left in soiled clothes were highlighted. The findings have led to renewed calls from charities to improve care for older people. [Guardian, 27 September]

A new treatment for multiple sclerosis, a disease of the nervous system, is being pioneered in England. Six patients have been injected with their own stem cells in the hope it will repair damaged areas of the brain. "We know stem cells are attracted into the brain, into these areas of damage," Professor Neil Scolding of the Institute of Clinical Neurosciences said. [BBC, 26 September]

Catholics in the US have been urged to "spread the truth" regarding the incomparable dignity of human life in preparation for an annual Respect for Life Sunday. Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the US bishops' conference's Committee for Pro-Life Activities, recalled the words of Pope Benedict XVI, saying: "If truth does not exist for man, then neither can he ultimately distinguish between good and evil". The cardinal said that science could lead to good but also to "the destruction of man and the world". The "recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world," he said. The event is on the first Sunday of October. [Zenit on EWTN, 26 September]

The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship has called for Christians to rally outside the Houses of Parliament in London, England, on the 27th of October to show opposition to abortion. It will be 40 years since the Abortion Act was passed, leading to some 6.7 million abortions. [Christian Today, 26 September]

An Amnesty International group has been disbanded at a school in Northern Ireland, apparently as a result of Amnesty's abandonment of its neutral stance on abortion. Two student members of the group at Assumption Grammar school have been notified by their head teacher through their religious studies teacher that the group is to close. Mr Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Amnesty director, confirmed that Amnesty would support rape victims having abortions, but said this was not an issue with which the organisation would involve schools. [Down Democrat, 26 September]] Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland said: "Head teachers of all the schools which have taken a stand against Amnesty International's decision should be congratulated. Amnesty's attempts to justify its pro-abortion policy by focusing on rape are misleading. In April 2007 Amnesty issued a background paper for its new policy, stating that the organisation would: 'Oppose imprisonment and other criminal penalties for abortion, both for women seeking or having abortions and for those providing information about or performing abortions.' What Amnesty is actually seeking is the removal of all legal protection for unborn children."

A US study into assisted suicide claims to have discredited the "slippery slope" argument that, by permitting doctors to help certain patients end their lives, members of some groups may die in disproportionately large numbers. The researchers from University of Utah looked at data on assisted suicide in the Netherlands from 1985 to 2005 and official reports on euthanasia in Oregon for 1998 to 2006 and surveyed doctors and hospice workers. They purport to have found that the legalisation of such acts only led to an increase in the number of deaths for people suffering from AIDS. [Reuters, 27 September,] The Pro-Life Alliance disputes the claims. A spokeswoman said: "Data from Oregon in 2005 showed that more than a third of the people who underwent assisted suicide said that one of their reasons for doing so was because they felt a burden to their families. I think the slippery slope is a real danger." [BBC, 26 September]

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