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Defending life from the moment of conception

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UN committee urges UK to force liberal abortion on Northern Ireland

31 July 2008

A United Nations body is pressing the United Kingdom to extend Britain's liberal abortion law to Northern Ireland. The Committee for the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) calls for a consultation on the matter and urges the UK: "to give consideration to the amendment of the abortion law so as to remove punitive provisions imposed on women who undergo abortion." [Breaking News, 31 July] Mrs Betty Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland said: "Repeated calls by the CEDAW committee to liberalise abortion in every country which has ratified the treaty only damage the UN's already-poor human rights record. Nowhere in the treaty is abortion mentioned. The UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child recognises that 'the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.' The law in Northern Ireland upholds internationally recognised human rights by providing legal protection for children before birth. The CEDAW committee has no legitimate interest in abortion law and has no authority to demand that we end the legal protection of unborn children here. In doing so, CEDAW threatens genuine human rights." [SPUC, 31 July]

An Irish lawyer predicts that the European Court of Human Rights will find fault with his country's abortion law when it considers a case brought by three anonymous women. Dr Adam McAuley of Dublin City University points out that the court has ruled that a mother's right to life and health over-rides her unborn child's rights. The court had found that the application of Polish law was improper in the case of a woman whose sight was affected by pregnancy. Dr McAuley says the women will win in the forthcoming case because Ireland's law is stricter than Poland's. He calls for Irish legislation which specifies the circumstances in which women may seek an abortion. [Irish Times, 30 July] Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland said: "It is questionable whether the case of the three women known as A, B and C will even be heard by the European Court of Human Rights. Two years ago the Court refused to hear a very similar case brought by another Irish woman claiming the same violations of her rights, because that case had not been considered by the domestic courts. However, even if the ABC cases were to reach the European court, it is very unlikely that it will find any discrimination has taken place. Irish abortion law is not open to arbitrary interpretation nor can it be applied in a way which discriminates against some women. The verdict in case of Tysiac v Poland therefore does not mean that the court will force Ireland to legalise abortion. It is also highly unlikely that any of the women will be able to show that she had been subject to inhuman or degrading treatment simply because abortion is strictly prohibited in Ireland."

The US House of Representatives has almost unanimously passed a resolution which calls for an end to forced abortion in China. Representative Christopher Smith, co-sponsor of the measure, said: "China's coercive population control program has imposed unspeakable violence, pain and humiliation on hundreds of millions of Chinese women, many of whom suffer lifelong depression as a consequence. Massively violated by the state, it is no wonder more women commit suicide in China than anywhere else in the world." The Olympic games begin in Beijing next week. [LifeNews, 30 July]

A girl in England had four abortions by the time she was 16. Ms Lucy Lanelly of South Yorkshire had her first termination at 12. She says she has no regrets or psychological problems, but worries that there may have been physical damage. Now 18, Ms Lanelly is engaged to be married. [Daily Mail, 30 July]

An English court has reportedly determined that a child may have an unlimited number of parents. Sir Mark Potter, president of the family division, was ruling in the matter of a child whose mother had intercourse with two men during the same menstrual cycle. DNA testing proved that the man who was involved with the unidentified child's early upbringing was not biologically related to him. Our source suggests the appeal-court ruling means the boy has two fathers. [Telegraph, 31 July]

A member of SPUC in Durham, England, has been named Catholic woman of the year. Mrs Diana Sanderson, 60, who has spina bifida, will share the annual award with three others. She has two sons and two grandchildren. [Durham Times, 31 July]

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