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Defending life from the moment of conception

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More than 200 MPs could support reducing abortion time-limits

31 March 2008

A newspaper predicts that more than 200 UK MPs could support a reduction in the time-limit for abortion of non-disabled babies. The change could be made by an amendment to the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) bill, with other MPs abstaining. Our source points out that, of 900 babies born between 22 and 24 weeks in 2005, 250 survived for a year or more. [Telegraph, 29 March] SPUC has warned that such a proposal would not only further entrench discrimination against disabled babies, but would also drive MPs into a trade-off in human lives with the pro-abortion lobby. In the current pro-abortion parliament, this could result in widening the grounds for abortion both before and after any new "limit".

Scotland's principal bishop has agreed in principle to meet scientists to discuss animal-human hybrid embryos. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, has agreed to a suggestion from Mr Jim Devine, Labour MP for Livingston, after the former had called the HFE bill monstrous. The cardinal said he hoped the researchers would also: "accept instruction from our Churches and peoples of faith on basic morality, on what human life really is, on the purpose of our life on earth and so on." Mr Devine, a Catholic MP, does not agree with the Cardinal's opposition to the bill. [BBC, 29 March] A Catholic scientist says that the church is wrong about the bill. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, supports it because of the therapies that could result from its passage. These outweighed the objections. Sir Leszek expressed his dissent from the churches teachings saying: "My view would differ from the views that are proposed by the Church on all elements of when life begins. I'm afraid I just differ, just as [views differ] in any large organisation. Maybe that makes be a bad Catholic, but then so be it. These are views I hold in all conscience." [Times, 29 March] The Islamic Medical Association, the Muslim Doctors Association, the Islamic Medical Ethics Forum and the Union of Muslim Organisations have expressed their support for Catholic opposition to the bill. [Catholic News Agency, 27 March] Ms Nuala O'Loan, former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, has also opposed the bill. [Belfast Telegraph, 28 March]

SPUC has called on its supporters Europe-wide to contact the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly members to reject a report which demands the promotion of abortion everywhere in Europe, and compulsory sex educationa. The report will be considered during a plenary session next month (April). [SPUC director's blog, 18 March] The council has 47 member-states and is distinct from the EU.

Irish women are reportedly buying abortion-drugs online. The Rachel's Vineyard group has counselled women who used mifepristone bought on the web to abort at home. The Irish Medicines Board points out that medicine by mail-order is illegal and "recommends that professional medical advice is sought before taking this or any other medicine." [Irish Independent, 30 March]

A machine which administers fatal doses of potassium chloride is being offered for hire in Germany. Dr Roger Kusch, a lawyer and politician of Hamburg, claims that his renting out the device does not break the country's law against assisting suicide because the person killing themselves will press the button on it. He calls use of the machine an act of Christian love. [Daily Mail, 28 March] The main party in Belgium's coalition government has called for euthanasia for under-18s. The Liberals want the current law, which applies only to adults and newborn children, to be extended. [LifeSite, 26 March] A local politician in England has been suspended by his local party and reported to the Standards Board for suggesting (apparently as a joke) euthanasia for vulnerable children. [PA, 31 March]

The Independent on Sunday has asked the British charity regulator is to investigate the political work of Care, an evangelical group which provides assistants to MPs. [Independent on Sunday, 30 March]

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