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Defending life from the moment of conception

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MPs reject cut to abortion time-limit

21 May 2008

The British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill continues to advance, passing its latest House of Commons stage last night. There were attempts to reduce the time-limit for abortion on the non-disabled from 24 weeks to 12, 16, 20 and 22 weeks; all failed. Dr John Pugh, Liberal Democrat MP for Southport, said: "There are people in our world today in no way inferior to us in capacity, intelligence and beauty who were born at 22 weeks. That ought to give us cause for reflection." [BBC, 20 May] Mr Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, speaking for his 12-week amendment, said: "In modern Britain the most dangerous place to be is in your mother's womb. It should be a place of sanctity." [Daily Telegraph, 21 May] Three secretaries of state and many leading Conservatives voted for 22 weeks. [Daily Mail, 21 May]

SPUC now warns of pro-abortion amendments. Anthony Ozimic, political secretary, said: "Pro-lifers must now redouble their efforts to stop pro-abortion amendments being incorporated into the government's embryo bill at its report stage. These amendments may include removing the requirement for two doctors to certify medical grounds for an abortion, and promoting nurses as abortion practitioners. More babies will die if such amendments are passed." [SPUC, 20 May] Doctors for a Woman's Choice on Abortion called for decriminalisation of the procedure. [Guardian, 21 May] MPs also yesterday rejected the need for both a mother and father for IVF children. [BBC, 20 May]

A vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group has expressed support for abortion. Mrs Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby, said in yesterday's debate: "... I am not opposed to abortion. I believe that women should have the right to choose ..." and "Let women have the choice, but make it at 12 weeks." SPUC has called on her to resign from her post in the group. [SPUC director's blog, 21 May]

Mr David Cameron, opposition leader, reportedly says that human-animal hybrids could produce therapies for his son who has epilepsy and cerebral palsy. [Daily Mail, 21 May] The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life called hybrids a horror. Bishop Elio Sgreccia said the British parliament's failure to ban hybrids: "constitutes an offence against the dignity of man. It is an attempt of fertilisation between species that until now has been prohibited by all the laws on artificial fertilisation." [Zenit on EWTN, 20 May]

An archbishop is asking Catholics who want Senator Barack Obama to be US president to persuade him to be pro-life. Most Rev Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, Colorado, said abortion was acceptable homicide in modern America and that active pro-choice politicians did not discourage it. Catholics who thought they could support Mr Obama in good conscience were mistaken. [LifeNews, 20 May]

Premature babies are more likely to have developmental anomalies. US research on some seven million children suggests that such problems are more than twice as likely among those born before 37 weeks' gestation. [Reuters, 21 May]

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