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Government postpones embryology bill report

10 July 2008

The report stage of the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill has been postponed from next week till the autumn. The government insists the bill is still important. The Conservative opposition suggests the government is worried about a forthcoming by-election. [BBC, 10 July] SPUC says the postponement provides more time to lobby MPs on the pro-abortion amendments which have been tabled. John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "The effects of these amendments would include reducing medical scrutiny of abortion from two doctors to one, abolishing the need for any legal grounds for abortion up to 24 weeks, allowing nurses and midwives to carry out an abortion, extending locations where abortion can take place to include doctors' surgeries, local health centres, school sick rooms etc., and up to a two-year prison sentence for any pro-life counselling group which 'misled' expectant mothers by its adverts. Over the summer we intends to initiate widespread action highlighting the plight of unborn children and their mothers. We will continue to build our campaign against the Bill and against the pro-abortion amendments to the Bill. SPUC will be urging its supporters and local clergy to contact prospective parliamentary candidates in their constituencies to ask them how they would vote on the pro-abortion amendments if they were in Parliament." [SPUC, 10 July]

Brazilian parliamentarians have rejected the government's attempt to decriminalise abortion. Just four MPs supported the measure which would have removed the threat of prison. Abortion is legal in Brazil after rape and in so-called cases of the mother's life's being threatened. Churches had opposed the bill. [BBC, 10 July]

Maternity care in some parts of England needs to be improved and expectant mothers need more choice, according to the Healthcare Commission. In some areas beds and staff were scarce. The Royal College of Midwives warned that it was unlikely that government targets for maternal choice and the number of midwives would be met. Nearly 90% of women surveyed were happy with their experience of pregnancy and childbirth. [BBC, 9 July]

The Catholic church says an Italian court's decision to stop feeding a 35-year-old comatose woman amounts to euthanasia. Mr Beppino Englaro claims Ms Eluana Englaro, his daughter, would not have wanted to be kept alive artificially. In giving its judgement, the Milan court cited her alleged wishes and the length of time (16 years) that Ms Englaro has been in a coma. Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said: "[A] coma is a form of life and no-one can be allowed to put an end to life." He wanted the matter to go to appeal. [Telegraph, 10 July]

The British Medical Association has voted for sex education in primary schools. The annual representative meeting approved a motion by a vote of nearly 55%. Proponents said the move would reduce teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. [Scotsman, 10 July]

A dietary regime may be used to help men with fertility problems. Aberdeen University, Scotland, studied more than 2,000 men attending a fertility treatment centre found that men whose weight was neither excessive nor insufficient exhibited characteristics which suggested that they were more fertile. [Reuters, 10 July]

A rabbi in Canada has condemned a national award for an abortionist. Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada and the Rabbinical Alliance of America criticised the giving of the Order of Canada to Dr Henry Morgentaler. He said: "As a Jew this man is a tremendous embarrassment to us and opposes Genesis 9: 6 which indicates that feticide is a capital offence from the earliest times of the world's history." [LifeSiteNews, 9 July] Father Lucien Larre of British Columbia, who founded homes for troubled adolescents, said he would send back his award. Madonna House, the Ontario Catholic organization, has returned the medal awarded to Catherine Doherty, its founder. Sister Margaret Smith, who promoted health care in northern Canada, says she too may renounce her award. [Catholic News Agency, 9 July]

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