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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Abortion drives grief-stricken woman to commit suicide

22 February 2008

A British woman hanged herself after having an abortion which killed her 8 week old twins. Miss Emma Beck, a 30 year old artist from Cornwall, wrote in her suicide note: "I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum. I told everyone I didn't want to do it, even at the hospital.,,, I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies: they need me, no-one else does." She had the abortion only because the babies' father did not want them, according to her mother. Miss Beck's mother said that the hospital did not do enough to support her daughter through counselling before and after the abortion. She had missed an appointment at a hospital in Penzance, and when she went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske the counsellor was on leave. She was given a telephone number of a pregnancy counselling service. The abortionist said: "I am satisfied everything was done to make sure Emma was consenting to surgery." Her superior added: "I don't feel there was any gap in the counselling service." [Telegraph, 22 February]

The draft constitution of the newly independent province of Kosovo proposes to remove all legal protection for unborn children, according to LifeSiteNews. Article 25 of the draft document grants "every individual the right to life from birth", and gives each citizen "the right to have control over his/her body in accordance with law." The draft also removes the rights and status of the traditional family, saying only: "everyone enjoys the right to marry and the right to have a family." [LifeSite, 21 February]

In Peru, a bishop has condemned a recent proposal to create an abortion "protocol" that would allow abortion for therapeutic reasons. Archbishop Javier del Rio Alba, of Arequipa, called the decision "a fallacious and dishonest protocol" and said that those responsible for it "should only be compared to Satan." An abortion protocol would give a list of medical circumstances under which abortions would be acceptable, including ostensibly therapeutic ones. At the moment, abortion is permissible in Peru to protect a woman from "serious" illness. [LifeSite, 21 February]

The Pontifical Academy for Life's upcoming conference will focus on the plight of the dying and the terminally ill. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Academy, said in a press conference: "The program proposes many ethical themes with the expectation of clarifying .... the limits of the therapy and assistance given to the terminally ill and dying." The Conference will take place next week on Monday and Tuesday. [Zenit, 21 February]

The BBC reports on China's one-child policy asking "whether the country's controversial regulations are working." The report says the policy is not likely to change, despite criticism. Minister Zhang Weiqing, told the press that he had not the "slightest doubt" that the policy was effective and should be continued, in spite of claims both from within and outside China which say that the current fertility rate is well below the level needed to create a stable society, and that there is a disproportionate number of boys to girls being born. [BBC, 22 February] Comment: The BBC's report makes only passing reference to the coercive nature of the policy. It is scandalous that the huge abuse of human rights is dismissed with the inference that forced abortions are not sanctioned by the government.

In France, following a decision to let the parents of miscarried babies to register their children's names officially, the Catholic Church is calling for the unborn to be given a clear legal status. Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, head of the French bishops' conference, said: "What has happened in the past 50 years is that the legal status of the embryo and foetus has been rapidly changed. They have been turned into things. The Church's position is that we must act as if the embryo were a person. We protect endangered animals so we should protect people too." [Reuters, 19 February]

The Catholic bishop of Motherwell, Scotland, has written to all his parishes calling for active opposition to the UK government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. Rt Rev Joseph Devine emphasised that the procedures proposed by the bill are medically unnecessary as well as attacks on human life. He writes: "The Government hope that the majority of the public remain indifferent to these issues... If few people speak out it will be presumed that most people are happy enough with what is being proposed." [icLanarkshire, 13 February]

Mr Silvio Berlusconi, a former Italian prime minister now running for re-election, has said he would approve of a 'moratorium' on abortion. "I think that recognizing the right to life from conception to natural death is a principle that the UN could make its own, just as it did with the moratorium on the death penalty," he said in an interview. Mr Giuliano Ferrara, who first raised the issue following the UN's adoption of a resolution against the death penalty in December, has recently announced his own candidacy for the Italian parliament. [CNA on EWTN, 13 February]

The Catholic archbishop of Denver, Colorado, the Most Rev Charles Chaput, said that it might be legitimate to vote for a pro-abortion candidate faced with a choice where there was no alternative, but that in that case voters should lobby such politicians to change their views. Archbishop Chaput has been attacked, and his diocese's tax-exempt status challenged, because of his previous robust statements on the importance of making pro-life choices when voting. [LifeNews, 13 February]

The Catholic bishops of Brazil have issued a declaration in defence of pro-life laws and principles at the closing of a pro-life conference held at the basilica of Aparecida. The declaration attacks in particular the population control movement for its anti-life and "eugenicist" activities, criticising especially the IPPF and organs of the UN. It was read by Bishop Dimas Lara Barbosa, General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference at the close of the conference the Sanctuary of our Lady of Concepción Aparecida. The declaration also sets out strategies for promoting the protection of human life. Lifesite remark on this statement as sea-change in the approach of the Brazilian episcopate, which they say has been lukewarm in the past on pro-life issues. [LifeSite, 13 February]

A study published in the BMC [BioMed Central] Psychiatry journal has found that women who have abortions are likely to suffer psychologically. The study, carried out in South Africa, found that 61% of 155 women studied reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder within three months of undergoing an abortion. [LifeNews, 13 February]

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld a conviction for the murder of unborn twins. Gerardo Flores was originally convicted in 2005, on two counts of murder, for attacking his pregnant girlfriend and causing her twin boys to be born dead at 21 weeks' gestation. Flores' appeal had attacked the constitutionality of Texas' 2003 Prenatal Protection Act, under which he was convicted, and argued that he had been assisting his girlfriend to have an abortion. The court's decision reaffirms the standing of the Prenatal Protection Act. [LifeSite, 13 February]

Campaigners in Northern Ireland are calling for routine testing for a potentially fatal virus affecting unborn children. Group B strep is a virus carried by adults which can be passed from mother to child during labour. In the UK, it is said to cause 75 infant deaths and 40 cases of brain damage each year. The Group B Strep Support group wants testing for all expectant mothers and the provision of antibiotics for those at risk, and Jeffrey Donaldson MP was among a delegation who recently handed a petition to the Prime Minister. [Belfast Telegraph, 13 February]

A new study from the London School of Economics suggests that smoking during pregnancy may be less damaging to the unborn child than is supposed. The research, by Ms Emma Tominey, found that the risk of smoking during the first half of a pregnancy is low, and that, when other health and lifestyle factors are taken into account, the effect of smoking on birthweight falls to 1.3%. Ms Tominey says that smoking still accounts for 13% of low birth-weights, and suggests that campaigns to prevent pregnant women from smoking should be accompanied with more general health and lifestyle education. [Times, 14 February]

A study carried out at Université Nancy, France, reports that mothers of sons are more likely to suffer from post-natal depression. The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, found that 75% of mothers showing symptoms of post-natal depression had given birth to sons, and that mothers of sons also recorded lower 'quality of life' scores than those with daughters. [Telegraph, 13 February]

The US-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has joined with Filipino groups LIKHAAN and Reprocen to promote artificial birth control in the Philippines. The BBC report that these groups are backing 20 poor women and men in alleging that the country's constitution has been violated by an executive order issued in 2000 by the then Mayor of Manila, Jose Atienza. The order promotes natural family planning, and discourages, but does not ban, contraceptives. Its critics say it has led to an increasing number of illegal abortions. Reprocen said "Manila has grossly violated women's fundamental human rights under constitutional and international laws." They also claim that the current endorsement of natural family planning has led to an increase in illegal abortions. The legal challenge follows a call in August 2007 by CRR for the new mayor of Manila to rescind the executive order of his predecessor. [BBC, 11 February] [Challenging Fundamentalisms]

A fertility drug used by many thousands of women may increase the risk of developing thyroid cancer, scientists claim. A recent study indicates that the 23,000 women who use clomiphene (Clomid) every year double their chances of suffering from thyroid cancer, which causes 200 deaths annually. The report, published in Human Reproduction, looked at 54,000 women in Denmark who had used the drug. [Daily Mail, 9 February]

A group of American IVF practitioners have published an analysis of the cost of having a baby by IVF in the January 2008 edition of Fertility and Sterility. By working out the likelihood of a baby being born for women with different measurable levels of fertility, they calculated the average cost of a conventional IVF baby (using the woman's own eggs) against the cost using donor eggs and found that the higher cost of using donor eggs is may be offset by the greater likelihood of getting a "take-home baby." Dr James Segars, who led the study, said that couples should have this information to help decide which technique to pursue or whether to consider adoption. [Reuters, 8 February] SPUC comment: Perhaps without realising, this study demonstrates how IVF dehumanises babies by discussing their comparative cost.

At least six women in Britain have chosen to freeze some of their eggs for future use by their own infertile daughters. Once the daughters reach adulthood, their partners could fertilise these eggs by means of IVF treatment. A spokeswoman for the Comment on Reproductive Ethics criticise this process, saying: "The child could feel a crisis of identity trying to work out their relationship with relatives. The daughter's husband may also feel an obligation to fertilise his mother-in-law's eggs." [Sunday Times, 10 February]

A feature article in the New York Times magazine discusses fetal sentience, quoting from or citing a variety of eminent sources including neonatologist Kanwaljeet (Sunny) Anand - who argues in support of the concept, Englishman Stuart Derbyshire - an avid opponent and pro-abortionist, Swede Bjorn Merker - who has drawn attention to the capacities of children substantially lacking a cerebral cortex - the upper hemispheres of the brain being largely replaced by fluid), and Canadian Anna Taddio. The article concludes with a discussion of (mainly US) legal and medical initiatives to protect the unborn from pain. [New York Times, 10 February]

In Ireland, a study has shown that children of mothers who suffered bereavement during pregnancy are more likely to become schizophrenic. A traumatic event such as the death of a close relative during the first few months of pregnancy could increase this risk, although similar events later in pregnancy were not associated with any such risk. [Irish Independent, 10 February]

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