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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Abortion drugs to be supplied in Italy from January

17 December 2008

RU486 abortion drugs are likely to be supplied in Italy from next month. The previous centre-left government approved the move in February but the ruling centre-right party reportedly cannot revoke the decision. Ms Giorgia Meloni, the current youth minister, said the drug had serious risks and the measure was a defeat for society. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, head of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, said: "The Catholic Church understands the personal drama of a young woman who is pregnant against her will, but condemns abortion, in whatever form it is practised, because an innocent being is killed. An embryo is a human being, with all the rights of a human being." [Times, 16 December]

British schools are targeting under-age children for instruction in sexual activity, according to a newspaper columnist. Ms Melanie Phillips is writing after teenage pregnancies rose despite birth control and sex education programmes. She says: "The underlying message of providing contraception and sex education is that sexual relationships themselves for under-age children are perfectly normal and acceptable." She mentions widespread sexually transmitted disease and how "abortion services are offered to children as young as eleven without even informing their parents." Ministers refused to support abstinence education, which had worked in America. [Daily Mail, 16 December] Pupils are giving sex education to their fellow students, according to a report on classroom practices in the UK. [Reuters, 16 December]

The outgoing president of the European Council says that there is no problem with Ireland's abortion law being allegedly protected from external intervention in return for a second referendum on the European Union's Lisbon treaty. Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, also president of France, told the EU's parliament that there could nevertheless be legal problems with the opt-out. [Irish Times, 17 December]

Patients with heart failure in Glasgow, Scotland, will receive palliative care of the kind more widely given to cancer sufferers. Marie Curie Cancer Care and the British Heart Foundation Scotland are to open a centre in the city. The latter charity said it was a human right for the seriously ill to get appropriate care. Supporters hope that the innovative practice will be taken up elsewhere in Britain. [Herald, 17 December]

The BBC has been accused of bias because it broadcast a television programme calling for assisted suicide. Ms Margo MacDonald MSP presented the programme when she also launched a consultation on a proposed bill. Our source points out that, while people wanting suicide were interviewed, no one appeared who had contemplated killing themselves but were pleased they had not. Ms MacDonald reportedly denigrated the views of opponents of assisted suicide, including Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh. The BBC's impartiality guidelines reportedly say: "we must ensure we avoid bias or an imbalance of views on controversial subjects". [Christian Institute, 11 December] Donna Nicholson of SPUC Scotland said: "Any suggestion that the programme was an impartial examination of the subject is disingenuous, at best. A few days before, Roseanna Cunningham MSP launched her proposed Palliative Care (Scotland) Bill to provide high quality assisted living care to all those in Scotland who need it. No programme accompanied this important member's bill which will go much further in making people feel dignified, unburdensome and worth the effort to help if they suffer a terminal illness or debilitating condition."

Ms Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the US president, who is being tipped to take over Mrs Hillary Clinton's senate seat, has reportedly been building political alliances including with NARAL Pro-Choice America. The pro-abortion group's New York branch said Ms Kennedy "could take up the mantle that Hillary has ... started in terms of commitment to reproductive health care." [Metronews, 16 December] A Catholic body has praised the appointment of Mr Tom Daschle, who supports abortion, as health secretary in the next US administration. The Catholic Health Association praised his leadership and understanding. Our source suggests Mr Daschle will rescind the Bush administration's forthcoming regulations protecting the consciences of medical staff who will not take part in unethical procedures. [LifeNews, 16 December]

A bioethicist has suggested that assisted suicide should be offered to a woman if her face transplant goes wrong. Speaking of the procedure performed in Ohio on an un-named patient, Dr Arthur Caplan of Penn University, Pennsylvania, reportedly said: "If your face is falling off and you can't eat and you can't breathe and you're suffering in a terrible manner that can't be reversed, you need to [make available] assistance in dying." [China Daily, 17 December]

Data from a prototype belt which detects unborn children's movements in the womb can be put on the internet. Output from sensors on the Kickbee, developed in New York, can be uploaded to social networking sites. The device might also alert mothers to a lack of movement which could indicate distress. [Daily Mail, 16 December]

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