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Defending life from the moment of conception

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MP: "Human beings are being treated as spare parts"

23 October 2008

Human beings are being treated as things, according to an MP speaking in yesterday's debate on the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Mr Edward Leigh, Conservative member for Gainsborough, told the House of Commons: "I believe that human embryos are emphatically not just blobs of cells; they have the entire genetic make-up of a human being. I believe not that they are potential human beings, but that they are human beings with potential ... There is something very dangerous in what we will undoubtedly do today. We are making ourselves less than human, in a sense, by viewing one part of human creation as a thing, a spare part, which I believe is extraordinarily dangerous." [Official Report, 22 October] Some MPs complained at the lack of debate on the bill. [Financial Times, 23 October]

The Conservative party will reportedly convene a parliamentary debate on abortion, after the government yesterday made it impossible for amendments on the subject to be discussed. 16 Labour MPs defied their party's instructions by voting against the embryo bill, including Ms Ruth Kelly, until recently a cabinet minister, and Mr Frank Field. [Independent, 23 October] Equality legislation could be used to extend British abortion law to Northern Ireland, according to a newspaper. Un-named abortion supporters are reportedly considering claiming that women in the province are being discriminated against because the law is not the same throughout the United Kingdom. [Irish Times, 23 October]

Senator John McCain, US presidential candidate, supports his Republican party's policy on life issues according to Mrs Sarah Palin, his running mate. She told Dr James Dobson: "I am such a strong believer that McCain believes in those strong planks and we do have good conversations about some of the details too, about the different planks and what they represent." The policy document calls for bans on human cloning and embryo research. [The Atlantic, 22 October] A bishop has reportedly said that Catholics may not vote for pro-abortion candidates. Rt Rev Joseph Martino, Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania, distanced himself from a US bishops' conference document which suggests that such candidates could be supported for proportionate reasons. No social issue had caused 50 million deaths, he told a parochial meeting at which he was an unexpected visitor. [LifeNews, 22 October] A survey suggests that Catholic support for Senator Barack Obama, Democrat candidate, is increasing. He now leads Mr McCain among Catholics who led in August. The Zogby polling organisation suggests the economy is changing people's minds. [Catholic News Agency, 22 October]

Relationship education is to be made compulsory in England's schools with pupils aged as young as five. Mr Jim Knight, schools minister, said: "We are not suggesting that five and six-year-olds should be taught sex." Religious groups could produce guidance in addition to the state's guidance. The Christian Voice organisation said teaching young children about sex was wicked and would encourage promiscuity. [BBC, 23 October] The Catholic Education Service has announced that it will cooperate with the plan and hopes parents will not withdraw their children from lessons. SPUC has called the service's statement disingenuous after government advisers were welcomed by them in Catholic schools. SPUC's national director writes: "The first task of everyone entrusted with the Gospel of life is, surely, to oppose government plans to promote and to entrench the abortion culture amongst young people of all faiths and none[.]" [John Smeaton, 23 October]

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