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Defending life from the moment of conception

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US Senate votes to lift oversees abortion funding ban

12 September 2007

The US senate has voted by 53 to 41 to lift a 1984 ban, known as the Mexico City Policy, on providing so-called family planning aid to overseas organisations that promote or perform abortions. It is likely that President Bush will veto the decision. He wrote in May: "I will veto any legislation that weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion, or that encourages the destruction of human life at any stage." [Christian Today, 11 September] Ms Deirdre McQuade, a spokeswoman for the US Catholic bishops' conference expressed disappointment over the decision, but welcomed another senate decision to maintain a federal law against involvement in coercive abortion programmes overseas. Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, said that, without the Mexico City policy, "abortion promoting organisations will exploit their status as conduits for US aid to promote abortion to vulnerable women in the third world." [Zenit, 11 September]

A study by scientists at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, published in the British Medical Journal, has found that taking the contraceptive pill for a short time may reduce a woman's chances of getting certain forms of cancer by up to 12 per cent. The same research showed that women who used the pill for more then eight years - a quarter of those in the study - had a significantly higher risk of developing cancer. The study of 46,000 women began in 1968. The average user of the contraceptive pill takes it for 44 months. [Telegraph, 12 September] According to the manufacturers, the pills may cause an early abortion.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, Bishop of St Louis, Missouri, has criticised other bishops for their silence on the problem of Catholic politicians who support abortion, euthanasia, cloning or embryo research or other legislation "contrary to the natural moral order." He spoke of: "the clear requirement to exclude from Holy Communion those who, after appropriate admonition, obstinately persist in supporting publicly legislation which is contrary to the natural moral law." His article addresses the scandal during the 2004 presidential election campaign when Senator John Kerry insisted he was a "good Catholic politician" despite ignoring Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life and marriage. [LifeSite, 11 September] The Catholic University of America in Washington DC has invited Senator Kerry to speak on environmentalism and the Iraq war this semester. Mr Kerry, who still receives Holy Communion regularly, has a 100% pro-abortion voting record. [LifeSite, 11 September]

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, archbishop of Lima, Peru, gave a sermon on Sunday stating that "abortion is murder and those who commit it are murderers ... it is cowardice on the part of contemporary society. We cannot remain in silence to avoid problems, and those children have every right to live." Peru's health minister Carlos Vallejos attended the service. He claims to be pro-life but favours morning-after pills [which, according to the manufacturers, may cause an early abortion] and has cooperated with efforts to normalise so-called therapeutic abortions in the country. LifeSite, 11 September]

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, South Australia, has called on Amnesty International to reverse its new policy promoting access to abortion. He said: "Amnesty International has now adopted a position, under the misleading term of 'sexual and reproductive rights,' which is at odds with Catholic understanding of the dignity of the human person and sexuality." [Zenit, 11 September]

The British Medical Journal has carried a debate on whether terminally ill patients should have the right to try out new drugs which have not completed safety checks. Professor Emil Frereich of the University of Texas says they should be allowed to do so, but US medical oncologist Dean Gesme feels this could harm both individuals and science, noting that 90% of drugs fail initial safety trials. [BBC, 10 September]

Scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme have found that twice as many girls as boys are being born in Inuit communities in Russia, Greenland and Canada. High levels of man-made chemicals in electrical equipment that mimic human hormones have become prevalent in animals which are eaten by Inuit communities. The scientists concluded that these chemicals present in the mother's blood were carried through the placenta to the unborn baby, switching hormones to create girl children. [Guardian, 12 September]

The British organisation Women's Environmental Network is concerned about plasticizers known as phthalates, which are used in many cosmetic products to give them a smooth texture and durability, saying: "There is a growing body of evidence that these are a threat to fertility and reproductive health, and we don't believe that chemicals that are any kind of threat to fertility - whether the case is absolutely proven or not - should be in personal care products." [Guardian, 11 September]

Poland is blocking a move by other European Union countries to inaugurate a Europe-wide day of protest against the death penalty. The Polish government wants a parallel European condemnation of abortion and euthanasia. [Guardian, 12 September]

The British health secretary, Mr Alan Johnson MP, is to begin a campaign to improve the nation's health "from the womb to the tomb." This replaces the previous slogan of "cradle to the grave" care. [Guardian, 12 September] The new slogan could be mistaken to mean that the unborn will be protected, yet there appear to be no government plans to stop abortion.

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