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House of Lords rejects ban on late abortion for disabled babies

30 January 2008

The House of Lords has rejected a ban on late abortion for disabled babies by 89 votes to 22, and has opposed a national bioethics commission. Earlier this week, peers debated the UK government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill during the last day of its report stage. It was approved for its third reading. [Official Report, 28 January] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: "Total rejection of the government's bill is the only adequate response pro-life parliamentarians can make in the anti-life climate of the current parliament. Lords should move to vote against the bill in principle and as a whole at third reading." [SPUC, 28 January]

Pro-life campaigners in Northern Ireland have accused the spokeswoman for the Royal College of Midwives there of using her position to advocate the illegal killing of unborn children and especially children with disabilities. The Guardian reported midwives in the province feared prosecution. Mrs Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "The law in Northern Ireland is perfectly clear. Abortion is only permitted when the mother's life is in danger. Aborting children because they are disabled is illegal. Four years ago, Breedagh Hughes [the college's spokeswoman], spoke publicly about taking part in abortions she knew to be unlawful. Her open defiance of the law is actually inviting the authorities to bring a prosecution. However, her real fear seems to be that the unlawful abortion of disabled children may become impossible in Northern Ireland." [SPUC, 28 January]

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family has launched a campaign for a United Nations global abortion ban. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo told La Reppublica that he would ask heads of government, beginning with those of Latin America, to sign a petition. [LifeSite, 25 January] Dr Jack Willke of the International Right to Life Federation welcomed the move and said: "... every one of the arguments put forth to legalize abortion has been proven to be false. Today, we are left with millions of dead babies but also millions of injured mothers and fathers." [LifeSite, 28 January] The idea for a ban reportedly came from Mr Giuliano Ferrara, a former head of the Italian communist party, and it has been endorsed by Dr Roger Scruton, the British philosopher. [LifeSite, 28 January]

The Pope has warned of the seductive powers of science. Benedict XVI told a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Science and the French science academy: "Human beings always stand beyond what can be scientifically seen or perceived. To overlook the question of man's 'being' inevitably leads to refusing the possibility of research into the objective truth of being ... and, effectively, to an incapacity to recognise the foundation upon which human dignity rests, from the embryo until natural death." [Reuters Africa, 28 January, and Vatican on EWTN, 28 January]

The Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, has criticised pro-abortion pressure by the United Nations. Speaking against the legalisation of abortion in some states of Mexico, Cardinal Juan Íñiguez commented on a UN official who had praised those Mexican states that had legalized abortion. He said: "She... urged all the states of the country to do the same, so that throughout Mexico killing could go unpunished." The Cardinal's speech countered pro-abortion arguments based on a woman's rights over her body and on disability in the unborn. [CNA, 24 January]

British parliamentarians have been told that unborn children can feel severe pain at 20 weeks' gestation. Professor Sunny Anand of Arkansas university made a presentation to MPs on Monday and called for a reduction in the time-limit on abortion. [Daily Mail, 28 January]

In his last State of the Union address to Congress President Bush welcomed the development of stem cells from skin. He said he would increase funding for such research, having restricted funds for embryo research. [Reuters, 29 January, and LifeNews, 29 January] Children of God for Life recently suggested that the work of Drs Thomson and Yamakana also involved the use of tissue from aborted children. [LifeSite, 8 January]

The National Right to Life Committee in the USA opposes all pro-abortion contenders for the Democrat presidential nomination, as well as Mr Rudolf Giuliani, a Republican. The committee endorsed Mr Fred Thompson but he has withdrawn. [LifeNews, 28 January] NRLC said that Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas had: "taken the strongest pro-life position on all of the life issues of any of the remaining candidates for president." [LifeSite, 28 January] Mr Giuliani is expected to withdraw.

Catholic hospitals in Wisconsin will have to provide abortifacient birth-control. The state assembly has passed a law requiring all hospitals to offer intra-uterine devices and morning-after pills. Catholic bishops and pro-life activists have opposed the move. [CNA on EWTN, 25 January] Most Rev José Cardoso Sobrinho, Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, has threatened suppliers and users of morning-after pills with excommunication. Recife civic authorities plan to offer them during the forthcoming carnival. [LifeSite, 28 January]

A report has criticised standards of maternity care in Britain. The Healthcare Commission has produced an independent report of 148 regional healthcare authorities and 26,000 mothers. It rated 21% of authorities as "least well performing". One of the concerns raised was of "inadequate screening" for foetal abnormalities, as well as a shortage of staff to attend births. Mr Alan Johnson MP, health secretary, said the government would increase funding for maternity services. The Royal College of Midwives said 5,000 more midwives are needed. [BBC, 25 January]

Secondary school students in Suffolk, England, are being consulted on what they think should be done about rises in sexually-transmitted diseases and abortions. [Evening Star, 28 January]

Research on mice suggests that foetal blood could be used to treat osteogenesis imperfecta, a bone-disease, in utero. [Daily Mail, 28 January]

Dr Philip Nitschke, a supporter of euthanasia, plans to go to New Zealand to show videos of the procedure which are banned in Australia where he comes from. [Yahoo, 29 January]

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