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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Cameron calls for abortion time-limits to be lowered

26 February 2008

Mr David Cameron MP, leader of the British opposition Conservative party, has declared his support for reducing the legal abortion limit from 24 weeks to between 20 and 21 weeks. Mr Cameron said: "I would like to see a reduction in the current limit, as it is clear that, due to medical advancement, many babies are surviving at 24 weeks. This must, however, remain a conscience issue and a free vote." The debate is expected to be brought up during discussions of the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. [Daily Mail, 25 February] SPUC comment: The 24 week "limit" applies only to abortion on certain grounds (those in clause 1(1)a of the Abortion Act.) No limit applies to other grounds. Pro-abortion MPs will certainly push for more grounds to be exempted if the 24-week marker is lowered and this is likely to lead to more, not fewer, late abortions.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, England, has urged Catholics to speak out about their concerns on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The cardinal wrote: "Our Christian witness can never just be personal but involves us too as citizens committed to serving the common good of society and to upholding the human dignity of all. Now is the time for our voices to be heard." [CNA on EWTN, 20 February]

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has asked the directors of a London Catholic hospital to resign over disputes about abortion referrals and the morning-after pill by doctors based on the hospital site. The dispute has led to a new code of ethics being drawn up for the hospital of St John & St Elizabeth, and a new chairman, Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, has been appointed. The hospital has been criticised by the General Medical Council and by the British Medical Association. BMA head of ethics Vivienne Nathanson insisted that a woman carrying a disabled baby should be offered help to obtain an abortion. [Guardian, 22 February and Independent, 23 February]

A New York State bill proposes to protect the right to abortion in law.. The Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act, was drawn up by Governor Eliot Spitzer's office. Opponents say that the proposed law would make Catholic hospitals vulnerable to lawsuits if they refused to do abortions. Dennis Poust of the New York Catholic Conference asked, "If the intent is not to force our hospitals and other facilities to perform abortions or make direct referrals or promote abortion, then why not amend the bill?" Provisions in the bill would also allow abortions to be performed by "qualified licensed health care providers", not just physicians. [CNA on EWTN, 22 February]

A new report into the maternity services in Britain is expected to highlight the pressures put on maternity clinics by older mothers, obese mothers, IVF patients and an increase in caesarean operations. Louise Silverton of the Royal College of Midwives said: "A caesarean is major abdominal surgery and it has been totally normalised, and seen as an easy way out." [Sunday Telegraph, 24 February and Observer, 24 February] The government has announced a plan to recruit 4,000 more midwives for the NHS over the next 3 years. 24.469 midwives are employed at present, many part-time. The full-time equivalent is less than 19,000. Dame Karlene Davis, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, applauded the move, which includes efforts to get non-practising midwives back into work. [Guardian, 25 February]

IVF clinics that are supplying couples with the Viagra aphrodisiac drug could be harming fertility, experts claim. Research carried out in 2004 showed that the drug made human sperm more active, but damaged them in the process. Dr David Glenn, a gynaecologist, said: "It is worrying that some IVF clinics are using Viagra in order to boost fertility results. Couples who go there for treatment are, by definition, already having problems getting pregnant. Viagra may simply be making these worse." [Mail on Sunday, 24 February]

Mr Mike Huckabee, a potential Republican US presidency candidate, has likened abortion to slavery. Speaking at a meeting of pro-family activists in Colorado, Mr Huckabee said that overturning Roe v. Wade was the first step in opposing abortion, since it would mean that "every one of the 50 states can come up with its own definition of life." [LifeNews, 24 February] Ms Frances Kissling, the former president of the anti-Catholic group Catholics for a Free Choice, has announced that she is backing Mr Barack Obama. Ms Kissling felt that Hillary Clinton had "more than once failed the movement" for abortion rights. She felt Mr Obama would be offer more secure support for abortion. She criticised Mrs Clinton for having permitted health workers to exercise conscientious objection. [CNA on EWTN, 22 February] Mr Ralph Nader, reportedly pro-abortion, has joined the race for the White House. [LifeNews, 24 February]

In England, a white surrogate mother has given birth to an Asian baby whose parents were suffering from fertility problems. The unidentified woman said: "Colour wasn't an issue for me. It didn't make any difference." Professor Ian Craft, director of the London Fertility Centre, suggested that using surrogate parents of a different race could be beneficial as it prevents the surrogate mother from becoming too attached to the baby. [Sunday Times, 24 February]

The Daily Telegraph newspaper has run a feature arguing that Britain's euthanasia law should be liberalised. The, by article Jocasta Shakespeare, alleges incorrectly that doctors in the UK are not legally allowed to give adequate pain relief if this involves the "double effect" of hastening death. Ms Val Mackay, who has multiple sclerosis is featured in the article, and expresses the fear that she may finally choke to death. [Telegraph, 25 February] Comment: Jocasta Shakespeare does a serious disservice to readers, misinforming them on the law and on the likely mode of death in MS. Those affected rarely die by choking.

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