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Defending life from the moment of conception

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75% support morning-after pill in Ireland

9 January 2008

Three quarters of the Irish population believe that morning-after pills should be more readily available, a study commissioned by the Irish Pharmaceutical Union suggests. The pharmacists say that the drug should be available over the counter. This comes just two months after Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin issued a letter urging priests to defend the sanctity of life in their sermons. The letter said: "The Church is opposed to all direct attacks against innocent human life such as abortion, abortifacient pills and devices, the abortion pill and the morning-after pill." [Sunday Independent, 6 January]

In a newly released report, the UN's population agency (UNFPA) has stated that its primary focus is the promotion of contraception, especially among the young. UNFPA also intends to put pressure on governments to spend more money on reproductive health services, and to promote the increased use, and quality, of contraceptive services. Despite claiming to be abortion-neutral, the organisation has been accused of supporting forced abortions in China. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 3 January]

Maternity units in Northern Ireland are discharging new mothers on the day they give birth, the Royal College of Midwives has said. Ms Breedagh Hughes, college secretary in Northern Ireland, claimed that hospitals were under-resourced and overstretched due to the rising birth rate and the lack of qualified midwives: "There are just 12 more midwives employed now than this time two years ago. Yet there are 2,000 more births." She said that if the situation continued, the safety of mothers and babies would be "compromised." [Belfast Telegraph, 5 January]

A British MP is planning to present a bill to Parliament to encourage the donation and use of umbilical cord blood for medical treatment and research, according to Christian Today. Mr David Burrowes, Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, said: "Through my Bill I want to stop the waste of life saving cord blood and open up the opportunities for treatment of diseases and ethical stem cell research." He particularly called attention to the total lack of awareness of the value of umbilical cord blood in the public consciousness: "Despite having had six children, and living adjacent one of only three [state] hospitals which collect cord blood, my wife and I have never been informed of the benefits of donating the umbilical cord blood." The bill has gained cross-party support as well as that of the Anthony Nolan Trust, the UK Leukaemia Society and the UK Thalassaemia Society. [Christian Today, 5 January]
In Britain, a woman who was officially declared infertile due to her obesity has given birth to a baby girl. After she was refused IVF treatment due to her weight, Mrs Nichola Wallace had a gastric bypass operation and over the next 18 months lost 11 stone (70kg). Reportedly, the operation cured not only her infertility but also her diabetes. [Mail on Sunday, 6 January]

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