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US bishops to campaign against pro-abortion law

12 November 2008

The American Catholic bishops will campaign against a pro-abortion law which the president-elect says he will sign. The bishops' annual meeting authorised Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and conference chairman, to issue a statement opposing the Freedom of Choice Act. As well as noting that the measure would remove all restriction on the availability of abortion, the prelates expressed concern at how it would attack conscientious objection to cooperating with the procedure. [LifeNews, 11 November] In the light of Senator Barack Obama's likely resumption of federal funding for embryo research, the Vatican has said it serves no purpose. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, described how umbilical and adult tissue had produced useful therapies. [Times, 11 November] The Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, England, has welcomed Mr Obama's election. Rt Rev Crispian Hollis writes on his diocesan website that the event had "seismic significance and potential for the whole global community." SPUC points out that the unborn are part of the global community, and will be writing to the bishop about other aspects of his endorsement. [John Smeaton, 12 November]
Both houses of the Uruguayan congress have approved the legalisation of abortion up to 12 weeks' gestation. The president could veto the measure but the congress could then thwart such a move. The Catholic church threatened supporters of the law with excommunication. [Reuters, 11 November]

An Irish member of the European parliament says the European Union threatens the unborn. Mrs Katherine Sinnott told a meeting of Catholic obstetricians and gynaecologists in Rome that the union's supreme court was ideologically motivated. The EU's Lisbon treaty, rejected in an Irish referendum, would extend secularist government and undermine Ireland's law protecting the unborn. [LifeSiteNews, 11 November] In the European Court of Human Rights (not the same as the EU's court), the Irish government is to defend itself from claims by three un-named women that their rights were infringed by their allegedly needing to travel abroad for abortion. [Irish Times, 12 November] SPUC, along with a number of other international pro-life groups, has been given leave to intervene in the proceedings.

SPUC has warned that the main British opposition party cannot be trusted on life-issues. The society's chief executive highlights how the Conservative party's spokesman in a recent debate on assisted suicide said: "The present state of affairs is increasingly under attack, but no statutory answer to the problem has been found. ... [F]rom my party's point of view it is a question with which we shall have to come to grips, if not today then over the next few years." SPUC also reminded its readers that the 2005 Mental Capacity Act allows killing by starvation and dehydration, and that the horror of such deaths could lead to calls for legalised poisoning. [John Smeaton, 12 November]

An Australian woman who killed a 71-year-old Alzheimer's patient with barbiturate has been sentenced to spend her weekends in prison for less than two years. Ms Shirley Justins, 60, injected Mr Graeme Wylie with pentobarbital that had been obtained in Mexico by Ms Caren Jenning, who was convicted as an accessory and has since killed herself. Mr Wylie's daughters were not given the chance to see him before his death. He had been rejected by Dignitas, Switzerland, for assisted suicide, reportedly because he lacked mental capacity. The judge in Sydney said the case was not about euthanasia. [BBC, 12 November]

An alleged shortage of sperm donors has led to the British Fertility Society's calling for more than 10 families to be able to use sperm from the same donor. The number of donors has fallen by 40% in 15 years. The limit is supposed to reduce the likelihood of children of the same father unwittingly conceiving children together. [BBC, 12 November]

The bishop of Senator Joseph Biden's diocese will reportedly not deny him communion. Rt Rev Francis Malooly, Bishop of Wilmington, says he does not want to politicise the eucharist. The vice-president elect supports legal abortion. [LifeNews, 11 November]

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