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UK government covering up disability abortion statistics

9 December 2008

The British government is trying to conceal statistics about late abortions on children with conditions such as club foot and cleft palate which can often be corrected by surgery. The health ministry is refusing to obey the government's information commissioner, saying that doing so would allow mothers and abortion-practitioners to be identified. The Pro-Life Alliance seeks the data which has been suppressed since 2005. In 2002, five children were aborted because they had deformed feet. [Sunday Telegraph, 7 December] Alison Davis of No Less Human, SPUC's disability rights group, said: "While the outcry over late abortions for 'minor' disabilities seems reasonable, and the Department of Health's refusal to provide such data seems unreasonable, the argument leads the public to think that abortions for minor disabilities are 'the worst', and certainly much worse than abortions for what are termed serious disabilities such as Down's syndrome and spina bifida. All abortions are unjust, unfair and out of keeping with every baby's worth, whatever his or her age or health. It is as wrong to abort a 'seriously disabled' baby as one with a 'minor' disability. Abortion for disability is just as wrong as for social reasons."

A member of the Scottish parliament has launched a consultation on legalising assisted suicide, which she describes as a caring act. Ms Margo MacDonald, who has had Parkinson's disease since 1996, wants to commit suicide and claims she has nationwide support. Under her proposals, patients would register with a doctor and then make two suicide requests at least 15 days apart. A committee would check if the conditions had been met, but only after the person was dead. 18 other MSPs must support any private bill. The British Medical Association opposes the proposal, saying that seriously ill people were vulnerable and could consider suicide irrationally. Friends at the End say 80% of people back physician-assisted suicide. The bill could be introduced after Easter. [Scotsman, 9 December] The law could apply to children. Ms MacDonald would let young people opt for suicide if they were of an age at which, in the case of marital breakdown, they could choose which parent to live with. This can be under 12. [Herald, 9 December] Parliamentary support for the measure is reportedly sparse. [LifeNews, 8 December] Donna Nicholson of SPUC Scotland said: "We welcome proposals by Roseanna Cunningham MSP to extend and improve the provision of palliative care in Scotland. It's a positive and compassionate response to those with degenerative conditions, and a counter to Ms MacDonald's proposals. Margo's proposals go further than previous ones by proposing to extend it to children as young as 12. Assisted suicide has already been debated in [the Scottish parliament] twice in the past three years."

An attempt to overturn the UK embryology regulator's decision to license the creation of human-animal embryos has failed in the English high court. The Christian Legal Centre and Comment on Reproductive Ethics were refused a judicial review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's approval of proposed hybrid work at Newcastle University and King's College London. The judge said that parliament wanted such research and that the challenge was too late. [Leicester Mercury, 9 December]

The Vatican has praised a bishop in England for a document in which he called on schools and parishes to protect young people from the culture of death. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said it hoped Catholics throughout Britain would find hope in Fit for Mission? Church by Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster. The British government and its advisors are promoting access to abortions by establishing health and sex clinics in all secondary schools and letting school nurses and advisors refer for abortion without telling parents. [John Smeaton, 9 December]

A district court in Montana has legalised assisted suicide, making it like Oregon and Washington state. Judge Dorothy McCarter said killing oneself accorded with constitutional rights to privacy and dignity. People will be able to have poison prescribed. Compassion and Choices, the former Hemlock Society, supported the case of a lymphocytic leukemia sufferer. The state attorney general wants the Montana supreme court, which he will head from next month, to rule on the issue. [LifeSiteNews, 8 December]

A 70-year-old woman in India has given birth to her first child after intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection. Ms Rajo Devi used the Hisar fertility centre in Haryana state to have her daughter. She and her husband expect extended family to look after the girl when they die. A single embryo was implanted in the hope of avoiding twins. [Telegraph, 8 December]
A bishop has called on every Catholic to lobby legislators in support of health workers' objections to taking part in unethical procedures. Rt Rev Álvaro Corrada, Bishop of Tyler, Texas, claimed the Freedom of Choice Act, which Senator Obama says he will sign as president, would "deny freedom of conscience to health-care workers and institutions to refrain from participating in medical procedures contrary to human dignity." The bishop has stopped two Catholic hospitals from performing sterilisations. [CWNews on EWTN, 8 December]

Panama's house of representatives has rejected a sex education bill after protests that it was anti-life. The Panamanian Alliance for Life and the Family says pro-abortion activists were angry at the decision. [Catholic News Agency, 8 December]

A Catholic religious order has returned two Orders of Canada after the honour was awarded to an abortionist. The Oblate Fathers of Assumption Province, Ontario, sent back the medals given to two of its members after Dr Henry Morgentaler was similarly decorated. A letter to Ms Michaëlle Jean, governor general, said the oblates were astonished and outraged at how the award had been used to support an ideology of death. [LifeSiteNews, 8 December]

Brain cells could cure hearing loss, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Tissue from the lateral ventricle's ependymal layer resembles hair cells in the inner ear. While the latter cannot regenerate after being damaged, the former can. Scientists speculate that they could transplant such brain cells. [PA on Channel 4, 9 December]

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