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Defending life from the moment of conception

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New prenatal test for Down's syndrome

25 June 2008

A new, non-invasive prenatal test for Down's syndrome is reportedly being developed. Work is being done in England and Hong Kong on a blood-test for which 90% accuracy is claimed. [Telegraph, 21 June] Alison Davis of SPUC's No Less Human group said: "The new non-invasive test for Down's syndrome will inevitably mean more pre-natal testing, leading to more abortions of babies with the condition. Describing this as a 'breakthrough' is offensive to people who live with Down's syndrome, and to all who recognise the equal right to life of disabled people. Significantly, and typically, the article refers to the new test being an improvement on older, invasive tests, only because they can cause miscarriage and thus '320 healthy pregnancies [are] lost each year in Britain because of Down's tests.' No comment is made on the equal tragedy of the deliberate seeking out and destruction of babies with the syndrome, because this is the whole aim of pre-natal testing. It is certainly no 'breakthrough' for people living with disabilities."

A Catholic magazine has called for the excommunication of Poland's health minister after she helped a 14-year-old girl get an abortion. After hospitals in Lublin and Warsaw refused to do a termination, Ms Ewa Kopacz found one which would. Archbishop Tadeusz Gocłowski of Gdańsk said everyone involved in the abortion was already excommunicated under church law. Fronda magazine wants the Bishop of Radom to declare it formally. The minister reportedly says she feels no guilt and has been to church. Fr Piotr Kienewicz, a moral theologian, says: "Because [Ms Kopacz's] action was of a public nature, I do not believe, in this case, confession and penance suffice." [Catholic World News, 24 June]

There is above-average infant mortality among Caribbean and Pakistani children in England and Wales. Government figures for 2005 show that, among those groups, more than nine young babies per thousand died yet the rate for white babies was 4½. Pakistani children were particularly afflicted with congenital problems, while Caribbean ones were under-weight an premature. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists cited ineffective access to health care and, among Pakistanis, cousin marriage as factors. Pakistanis were also less likely to abort children. [BBC, 24 June]

American Catholics are reported to be becoming more pro-abortion. A survey by Georgetown University sought responses to the statement: "A woman should have the right to choose to abort an unwanted pregnancy." While 55% agreed with it in 2002, 58% agreed in 2006. The finding was part of research which also suggests a drift by Catholics towards the Democratic party, at least partly caused by the Iraq war. [Catholic News Agency, 25 June] Senator Obama, the party's de facto presidential candidate, supports abortion.

There is a murder investigation over the death of a child in Kansas who survived abortion at 35 weeks. A nurse told Operation Rescue of how Ms Shelley Sella allegedly stabbed the child to death with a "utensil". A previous injection of poison to the baby's heart may have been unsuccessful. [LifeSiteNews, 24 June]

Stress in pregnancy could make stillbirth more likely. A 10-year study of some 19,000 women in Denmark suggests that stress increased the likelihood by 80%. Researchers say more work is needed in this area. [Reuters, 23 June]

Premature babies in intensive care may be in pain but not show it. University College London researchers found that brain scans suggested babies could be suffering though there were no external signs such as grimacing. [New Scientist, 24 June]

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