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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Police crack down on anti-population control protesters in China

7 August 2008

Three Americans were taken by police from Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, after they protested against that country's population policy. Mr Michael McMonagle, national director of Generation Life, Boise, Idaho, Rev Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, Washington DC, and Ms Brandi Swindell, also of Generation Life, displayed a banner with a Christian message. One of them called out: "End the brutality. To those who are forced to go through forced abortions and have no voice, we are your voice." Rev Mahoney called forced abortion and sterilisation barbaric and urged President Bush to speak out on various abuses. The three were questioned but then allowed to go. [Daily Mail, 7 August, and LifeSiteNews, 6 August]

Ecuador's Catholic bishops have denounced a draft national constitution for not protecting human life from conception. The episcopal conference also says that a statement of couples' rights to choose how many children they have implies an acceptance of abortion. The government has told the church to keep out of politics. Evangelicals are also scrutinising the constitution, which is the subject of a referendum next month. [LifeSiteNews, 6 August]

The Archbishop of Lima, Peru, says ideologically-driven groups use the concept of "reproductive health" to promote unethical practices in his country. Mr Rene Flores, a Peruvian psychiatrist, supported Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani. He pointed out that reproductive health was first mentioned at the 1994 World Conference on Population and Development. Politicians and medics in Peru accepted it unquestioningly. The term was used to undermine the traditional understanding of human rights. It concealed an agenda including, Mr Flores said: " ... forced sterilizations, the hiding of information about the abortifacient nature and side-effects of some contraceptives, the arguing that pregnancy begins with the implantation of the fertilized egg and not [at] conception (for example, in order to approve the morning-after pill), and the passage of [health] care laws that prevent doctors from having recourse to conscientious objection." [Catholic News Agency, 6 August]

A bill promoting abortion, contraception, sex education and reproductive technology, which also has coercive elements, has made progress in the Philippines' House of Representatives. The appropriations committee, chaired by one of the bill's sponsors, yesterday approved it. A similar measure is in the senate which is presently busy on other matters. Both measures must advance for it to become law. Pro-life lobbyists are following the reproductive health bill closely, along with a women's rights measure. [Mrs Fenny Tatad, reported by John Smeaton, 7 August]

Some gynaecologists in India have expressed support for a couple who want to abort their unborn child, who may have a heart defect, at around 26 weeks' gestation. Comments have appeared on the webpage of a former president of their professional body. Dr Narendra Malhotra, that organisation's current leader, is reported as saying: "In [the] case of foetal abnormalities which have been detected late, and which would lead to extremely serious handicaps at birth to the baby, such foetus[es] should be allowed to be terminated, even after 20 weeks. This could be made subject to such safeguards and processes as may be deemed appropriate." [NDTV, 7 August] Indian law does not allow abortion after 20 weeks.
Researchers in Toronto, Canada, have used a gene to get embryo tissue to become early endoderm cells, claiming that the technique will produce therapies. Stem cells' versatility means that scientists need to find ways of channelling them to become particular types of tissue. [Canadian Press, 6 August] Human stem cells may be obtained from ethically acceptable sources, as well as from human embryos. It is unclear from our source whether the embryos used for this hospital-based research were human.

The British government wants everyone under 18 to receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. It says three million children need it and warns of a measles epidemic. [Independent, 7 August] Some vaccines have reportedly been based on tissue from aborted babies, though the provenance of the vaccine in this case is unclear.
A state-employed lawyer who took on Planned Parenthood has failed to secure the Republican party's nomination for district attorney in Kansas. When he was the state's attorney general, Mr Phill Kline filed more than 100 charges against the organisation for allegedly performing late-term abortions. [New York Times, 6 August]

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