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Defending life from the moment of conception

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NI assembly to debate motion calling for continued restrictions on abortion

26 September 2007

The Northern Ireland assembly is due to debate a motion which calls on the province's health minister not to make abortion any more widely available there. The proposal is sponsored by Mr Jeffrey Donaldson, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) assembly member for Lagan Valley, and Mrs Iris Robinson, DUP member for Strangford. [BBC, 26 September]

The British prime minister has announced that he will fund more medical research, including stem cell research. Speaking to his party's conference in southern England, Mr Gordon Brown MP said: "Britain will invest more than ever before - £15 billion of public money - financing the genius of British researchers and doctors as they convert breakthroughs in genetics, stem cell research and new drugs into cures and vaccines." [Medical Research Council, 25 September] It is not clear whether Mr Brown specified embryonic stem cell research as a target for extra funding.

The Pope has expressed his admiration and support for the government of Nicaragua for the continuation of its anti-abortion laws in the face of international pressure. He spoke of his "recognition to Nicaragua for its position in international forums on social topics, especially the respect for life in the face of not insignificant internal and international pressures." Earlier this month, Nicaragua renewed its decision to impose criminal sanctions on all abortions. [LifeSite, 25 September]

A US senator has introduced legislation which would make it compulsory for a woman to have an ultrasound scan before going through with an abortion. Mr Sam Brownback said he hoped this requirement would: "cause a deeper reflection on the humanity of unborn children." Women who have been shown ultrasound pictures of their unborn children are reportedly less likely then to have an abortion. [CWNews on EWTN, 24 September]

According to new government guidelines, British women should have greater control over how and where they give birth. Such control would include getting pain relief when it was needed, giving birth at home if it was safe, and using a birthing pool if it was preferred. Andrea Sutcliffe of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, said: "We want to make sure every woman's experience of birth is as good as it can be." Critics have claimed that allowing so many home births is impractical because of the shortage of trained midwives. [BBC, 26 September and Daily Mail, 25 September]

A leading Catholic peace campaigner in Britain and member of Amnesty International, has spoken out against the organisation's new policy of abortion advocacy. Mr Bruce Kent said "Unborn children also have human rights," and particularly criticised Amnesty for placing its religious support-groups in a difficult position. He also called for Amnesty to allow its supporters the option of saying that they do not want their money to be used to promote abortion. [Guardian, 25 September]

British hospitals and care homes are facing an enquiry into why elderly patients are allowed to go hungry, following a survey showing that many older patients were at risk of malnutrition. Mr Ivan Lewis, care minister, said: "The findings will enhance our evidence base and generate important information for hospital, clinical and support staff as well as for public health in general." [Daily Mail, 25 September]

US scientists have found a new way of treating liver failure using stem cells from bone marrow. So far, the technique has not yet been used on humans, but researchers are optimistic. Professor Mark Thursz of St Mary's Hospital, London, said: "This development could potentially reduce the number of donor organs used in urgent transplant procedures thereby increasing the number available for the growing number of patients on routine waiting lists." [BBC, 26 September]

A British obstetrics expert has said that pregnant women can exercise safely. Prof Andrew Shennan, professor of obstetrics at Tommy's, a baby charity, said that moderate exercise during pregnancy had medical advantages such as preventing blood clots, as well as building up the physical stamina necessary for labour. [NetDoctor, 24 September]

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