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Defending life from the moment of conception

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US government acts to protect conscientious objection

19 December 2008

The Bush administration has introduced rules which will allow health workers to refuse to perform unethical procedures. The regulations will take effect two days before Senator Barack Obama takes over next month. The government says they reflect current law. Ms Nita Lowey, a Democrat congresswoman, said the measure threatened women's health and vowed to overturn it. The National Partnership for Women & Families said the rules threatened women's primary care. [Reuters, 18 December]

Pro-life campaigners have asked to talk to Mr Obama. The Christian Defense Coalition, the National Black Pro-life Union, Rachel's Vineyard and Stanton Healthcare have requested a meeting, recalling the senator's campaign promise to respect all views. A spokesperson said Mr Obama's message of hope and change needed to extend to all Americans, including the 50 million aborted since Roe v. Wade who lacked a voice. The group wants the president-elect to meet pro-life people who work with women contemplating abortion and suffering its effects. They say he has yet to meet women hurt by abortion. [Catholic News Agency, 19 December]

The Pope is urging Luxembourg not to legalise euthanasia. Benedict XVI told the country's ambassador that any deliberate decision to end a life was bad and could never be lawful. He called on the country's people to reaffirm the inviolable nature of human life. The nation's grand duke has refused to sign the bill. [Times of India, 18 December]

Some Catholic hospitals in America provide morning-after pills to women who say they have been raped. The practice reportedly happens in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Washington state and Wisconsin. Dignitas Personae says that seeking to prevent a human embryo's implantation, which the pills can do, is generally the same as intending to perform an abortion. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, former head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has told LifeSiteNews that there are no exceptions to the ban on morning-after pills. [LifeSiteNews, 17 December] NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts asked for such pills at 70 hospitals in the state and were refused by two Catholic institutions. This is reportedly against local law which requires all hospitals to provide morning-after pills to women who allege rape. [CWNews on EWTN, 16 December]

The Science journal says the reprogramming of adult tissue to make induced pluripotent stem cells is the year's greatest breakthrough. The technique avoids the use of embryos and, because patients' own cells are used, overcomes the problem of rejection. The publication says it could produce life-saving therapies. [Telegraph, 19 December]
Doctors should limit the number of courses of steroids given to pregnant women who may deliver early, according to Canadian research on 1,800 women described in The Lancet medical journal. More than one course could mean smaller babies, according to Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto. [BBC, 19 December]

Small amounts of caffeine in pregnancy could impair the development of unborn children's hearts and increase body fat in male babies, according to research on mice at Yale University, Connecticut. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology warned that caffeine was in many things other than coffee, including painkillers and confectionery, and suggested that expectant mothers should avoid it. [British Cardiovascular Society, 19 December]

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