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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Leading Kenyan medic laments Obama election

11 November 2008

A leading medic in Kenya has lamented the election of Senator Barack Obama as US president. Dr Stephen Karanja, head of the Catholic Doctors' Association, said the president-elect was anti-family and a bad man, and had made unrestricted abortion a key part of his campaign. Africans were under threat, he said, adding: "They have no business electing a person who is going to destroy our countries. ... what these Americans do affects innocent people thousands and thousands of miles away." Most Kenyans opposed abortion. [LifeSiteNews, 10 November] A cardinal has welcomed Senator Obama's election but also evoked the abortion issue, comparing it to slavery. Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, told the US Catholic bishops' conference of the significance of Mr Obama's ethnic background for human rights and added: "The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice. Today, as was the case 150 years ago, common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good." [LifeSiteNews, 10 November] Another bishop has told Senator Joseph Biden, vice-president elect, to examine his conscience over his support for abortion before approaching holy communion. Senator Joseph Biden was recently at Mass in Tallahassee-Pensacola diocese and Rt Rev John Richard has written to him: "... I ... observe, by your support for laws that fail to protect the unborn, a profound disconnection from your human and personal obligation to protect the weakest and most innocent among us: the child in the womb." [CNA on EWTN, 8 November] Catholic bishops in Uruguay have recalled that those who support laws allowing abortion are barred from communion. [Zenit, 10 November]

A 13-year-old girl who has leukaemia has successfully persuaded the English high court to prevent a hospital from giving her a heart transplant. Hereford Hospital reportedly tried to remove Hannah Jones from her parents' custody. [Guardian, 11 November] Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, commented on our source, saying: "It is misleading to refer to such cases 'right to die' scenarios. Not only is there no such legal or medical right; there is no suggestion that anyone is seeking to end Miss Jones' life - albeit she may have limited life expectancy. Traditional medical ethics says that treatment which is unduly burdensome in comparison to the benefits offered, or which is futile, need not be offered by doctors or accepted by the patient. The report doesn't say whether the operation would be likely to succeed or not, but it is nearly always the case that such a transplant could legitimately be declined."

An MP today led an ad hoc debate in the UK parliament which mentioned Dignitas in Switzerland where people are supplied with poisonous drugs for suicide. Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat member for Oxford West and Abingdon, claimed that so-called assisted dying was not the same as assisted suicide. SPUC has pointed out, however, that Dignitas describes itself on its website as offering "professionally-supervised assisted suicide", with "suicide" occurring elsewhere in text about what the organisation does. [John Smeaton, 11 November]

Singapore's health minister has suggested the legalisation of euthanasia. Mr Khaw Boon Wan responded to letters written to a newspaper in support of such a move. [Straits Times, 6 November] Most Rev Nicholas Chia, the city state's Catholic archbishop, said medics should not even consider euthanasia, which was false compassion. [Today, 3 November]

Frozen human embryos produce healthier IVF children than fresh ones, according to parallel research in America, Australia and Finland described at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's conference in California. The studies' results vary but some suggest less risk of prematurity, low birth weight, still birth and infant mortality with frozen embryos. [Times, 11 November] The same conference heard how the Oxford Fertility Unit, England, was reportedly using in vitro maturation to achieve a better success rate than the customary IVF success rate. The alternative treatment uses little or no drugs to stimulate the ovaries and is cheaper. [Daily Mail, 10 November] A technique for screening IVF embryos is said to increase the success rate. Comparative genomic hybridisation looks for chromosomal abormalities. [BBC, 10 November] IVF involves the death of many embryos and diagnostic tests on embryos are used to decide which ones to destroy.

A woman in London, England, is due to give birth soon after receiving one of her identical twin's ovaries through transplantation. The unidentified 39-year-old had her menopause in her teens and underwent the transplant in Missouri. [Daily Mail, 10 November]

Anti-extremist laws could be used to ban foreign pro-life campaigners from the UK. Our source suggests that the home office (interior ministry) would include opponents of abortion on lists of undesirables, along with racists and terrorists. [ePolitix, 28 October]

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