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By-election candidates clash over abortion

17 July 2008

Abortion is reportedly an issue in a Scottish by-election. Mr John Mason, the Scottish Nationalist Party candidate in Glasgow East, says he wants the time limit cut and he appears to oppose embryo research. Ms Margaret Curran, Labour, supports the status quo on the time limit, as does the Conservative. [Herald, 14 July] There are six other candidates in today-week's poll. [BBC, 9 July] A Scottish Catholic bishop has criticised the British government for its Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. In a letter to parliamentarians, Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell reportedly writes that the Labour party's administration has lost its ethical credibility. [Catholic World News, 15 July]

The British government's strategy for care for the dying includes making a plan for each patient's pain relief. Ministers announcing the policy yesterday said it fulfilled the ruling Labour party's 2005 commitment to doubling spending on palliative care by 2011. Two thirds of people reportedly want to die at home yet nearly three fifths die in hospital. The plan includes home visits by nurses and attempts to remove taboos on discussing death. [Times, 17 July] The department of health says that "has been developed within the current legal framework. Whilst the debate about changing the law to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide will continue in this country and elsewhere, these issues are beyond the scope of this strategy. An important element of the existing legal framework is the Mental Capacity Act" [Department of Health, 16 July] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "The strategy emphasises the Mental Capacity Act and the Liverpool Care Pathway, which both facilitate euthanasia by omission. The strategy document is verbose and filled with jargon, but deliberately silent on the simplest and most basic right, the right to life."

The Population Research Institute says next month's Beijing Olympics should be boycotted because of China's one-child policy. Mr Steve Mosher compared the event to the 1936 games in Nazi Germany. Forced abortions had increased and the authorities had stopped the wife of a pro-life campaigner from going to the Philippines to collect a humanitarian award on her husband's behalf. People should not watch the games nor support its sponsors, Mr Mosher urges. [LifeNews, 16 July]

The US government has proposed rules to prevent pro-life medics from being discriminated against in the workplace. Federally-funded facilities would need to pledge that they would hire suitably qualified staff regardless of their views. Individuals could opt out from doing abortions and state funding would be equably distributed. [LifeNews, 16 July] Planned Parenthood called the move a betrayal of women and families. [LifeNews, 16 July]

Filipino Catholic bishops are banning pro-abortion politicians from communion. Archbishop Angelo Lagdameo of Jaro, president of the episcopal conference, has backed Archbishop Jesus Dosado of Ozamis whose pastoral letter enunciated the policy. Archbishop Lagdameo plans to do the same in his diocese and says the ban covers anyone publicly supporting abortion. Our source suggests the American bishops did not similarly rally around Most Rev Raymond Burke, now head of the church's highest court in Rome, when, as Archbishop of St Louis, he took a similar line. [Catholic World News, 16 July]

The Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group in Britain wants TV advertisements for condoms to be shown in the early evening, as well as compulsory sex education. The Family Education Trust says the government's teenage pregnancy strategy has failed. A minister said she would empower parents to talk about sex. [Telegraph, 16 July]

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