weekly update, 27 February
27 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 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]
Luxembourg may become the third European country to legalise euthanasia, according to the LifeSiteNews. The Luxembourg parliament voted at first reading by 30 votes to 26 in support of a bill to legalise euthanasia sponsored by members of the Socialist and Green parties, and opposed by the Social Christian led government of Jean-Claude Junckers, and by the Catholic Church. In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com, the chairman of the international Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Alex Schadenberg encouraged people from across the world to contact the Luxembourg Prime Minister to express their support for his efforts to defeat the bill. [LifeSite, 20 February]