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Defending life from the moment of conception

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GMC: Doctors should give abortions to 13-year-old girls without telling parents

28 September 2007

The General Medical Council, which regulates doctors, has advised doctors that they need not, and in most cases should not, tell the parents of girls between 13 and 16 if they are given abortions, treatment for sexual infections, or birth control. Doctors are advised to try to persuade children between the ages of 13 and 16 to inform their parents, they have been told not to tell parents unless they are given permission by the child. Family groups Christian Voice and Family and Youth Concern condemned the guidance. [Daily Mail, 28 September] SPUC comment: The guidance seems geared to bring GMC advice into line with the 2003 Sexual Offences Act and the 2004 Children's Act, which critics regard as seeking to normalise sexual activity for 13 year-olds.

Catholic bishops in Connecticut have agreed to medics giving the morning-after pill to rape victims at the church's four hospitals in that state, according to a report in the Guardian. They had previously tried to fight a state law that requires the provision of the drug, marketed as "Plan B" in the US, for rape victims who attend hospital. A joint statement by the bishops and hospital chiefs said that it could be used, "since the teaching authority of the church has not definitively resolved this matter and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work." [Guardian, 27 September] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "It would seem that the Catholic church in Connecticut has failed to err on the side of caution here. Even if there is a question about whether the morning-after pill is abortifacient, it should not be provided until that question has been resolved definitively. . The manufacturers have stated that it can kill the embryo in the first days of life. Some promoters of the morning-after pill claim that it can't affect an existing pregnancy because they have re-defined pregnancy - and even conception - as beginning at implantation"

The Council of Europe has voted to have an annual Day Against the Death Penalty. Poland objected that the day should address the right to life more broadly, including euthanasia and abortion, but abstained in the vote. Some leading Polish politicians support reintroduction of the death penalty for some crimes. [Irish Examiner, 28 September]

Further evidence has emerged that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) supports abortion. The annual report of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion law firm in New York, NY, states that UNFPA was one of its largest financial contributors last year, donating $50,000. Mrs Thoraya Obaid, executive director of UNFPA, maintains that UNFPA is neutral on abortion. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 27 September]

Euthanasia opponents have criticised the methods used by researchers who recently claimed to discredit the "slippery slope" argument against physician-assisted suicide. Mr Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition believes the data Ms Margaret Battin used was biased, since it was based partly on the reports of the physicians who prescribed the assisted suicide concoction in Oregon. [LifeSite, 27 September]

Britain may cease to be a world leader in stem cell research if restrictions on public funding for embryo research are removed by the next US president. Mr Leszek Borysiewicz, who is expected soon to be announced as the head of the UK's largest public science funding agency, the Medical Research Council, said tight restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research in the US had helped Britain to reach its current status. In August 2001 President Bush placed a ban on using federal funds for research involving embryonic stem cells created after that date. Some prospective candidates for the presidency have expressed support for such research. [Guardian, 28 September]

Father Tom Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, Washington, DC, has called for Catholics who supported the dehydration of Mrs Terri Schiavo to "seriously repent and re-evaluate their consciences". Fr Euteneuer said that the latest document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on nutrition and hydration for terminally ill patients was unambiguous in affirming that "a patient in a 'permanent vegetative state' is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means." [CNA on EWTN, 27 September] Mrs Schiavo suffered brain damage after collapsing from heart failure.

Researchers in China have found that the deadly H5N1 influenza virus can be passed from pregnant women to their unborn children. H5N1 was known to be able to pass from birds to humans. Normal forms of human influenza are not thought to transfer from mother to unborn child. [PA on Channel 4, 28 September]

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