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Commons to debate embryology bill

30 April 2008

The lower house of the UK parliament is expected soon to debate the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill, possibly the week after next. [LifeNews, 29 April] MPs will be lobbied on the bill at the House of Commons on 14 May and a guide to lobbying is available from SPUC by emailing lizfoody@spuc.org.uk. A page on SPUC's website, accessible from the homepage, describes the bill and includes links to a briefing. SPUC is calling on its supporters to ask MPs to oppose the bill, which it calls the most serious legislative threat to early human life since the 1990 embryology law. The date of the Commons debate may be published tomorrow. [SPUC, 30 April] Lord Steel of Aikwood, whose 1967 private bill led to wide-scale abortion in Britain, defends the legislation and argues against a reduction in abortion time limits. He asserts that his Christianity is compatible with his pro-abortion approach. His article mentions how, unlike Britain, some other European countries do not require doctors' consent for abortion. [Independent, 30 April]

Angola may tighten its abortion law by forbidding the provision of the means to perform abortion, and the publication of material which supports it. The west African state's parliament is reforming the penal code, which already partly forbids abortion. There is reportedly no popular wish for the matter to be discussed. [LifeSiteNews, 29 April]

Many nations are failing in terms of the UN's millennium development goal on deaths of children and women in childbirth according to a report in the Guardian. The Countdown group, which includes UN organisations, says that more than 50 high-priority countries are below target, with 10 African countries doing worst in child mortality. China is now on target. [Guardian, 11 April]

The British nurses' professional body has supported a call for more state-funding for IVF. Jane Denton urged the The Royal College of Nursing's conference to back recommendations by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the government-backed health treatment assessor) that women should get three free cycles of test-tube baby treatment. Most of the 151 local funding centres will only fund one course of IVF treatment per couple at present. [PA on Channel 4, 29 April]

Legal euthanasia by doctors in the Netherlands is on the increase. While just over 1,900 people were killed that way in 2006, more than 2,100 died because of it last year. In three cases, doctors reportedly breached guidelines. [Dutch News, 30 April] It would seem that these figures refer only to cases of euthanasia by specific and positive intervention. Previous reports have indicated that the largest number of euthanasia deaths occur in less explicit ways, such as increasing existing medication to fatal levels.

Campaigners are pressing the Catholic Archbishop of Washington DC over the reported reception of communion by pro-abortion politicians at a recent papal Mass in the city. Most Rev. Donald Wuerl wrote: "How to respond to those in public office who support abortion legislation is open to various legitimate pastoral approaches." [LifeSiteNews, 29 April] We reported on how New York's archbishop deeply regretted Mr Rudolph Giuliani's receiving communion in his cathedral.

Babies have smaller brains if their pregnant mothers use a combination of two or more of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and tobacco, says a report in Pediatrics according to Reuters. Use of only one such substance showed no confirmed effect, but combined substance mis-use showed a positive correlation with reduction in brain size. The study looked at 35 children aged 10-14. [Reuters, 14 April]

British school heads may be required to address pregnancies among their pupils as part of their concern for pupils' overall wellbeing. Teachers' unions denounced the leaked proposal. [Daily Mail, 30 April]

A man who asked the president of India for euthanasia has died, apparently naturally. Mr Dilip Machua, 30, of Jharkand province had been paralysed in an accident. [Telegraph (India), 13 April]

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