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Defending life from the moment of conception

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MPs propose 7-day abortion counselling period

7 October 2008

British parliamentarians are proposing a measure which would introduce a seven-day cooling-off period before abortion, during which women would be told about the risks of terminating pregnancy and of childbirth. Mr Edward Leigh MP, Conservative, is the first of five signatories to an amendment to the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Mr Frank Field MP, Labour, has proposed an amendment which would require the consent of the Northern Ireland assembly before British abortion law could be extended there. [House of Commons, 3 October] Amendments are not always debated or voted on. The house's speaker (chairman) chooses which ones are to be considered. A Northern Ireland group will lobby MPs tomorrow for abortion in the province. They will meet Baroness Blood and Diane Abbott MP who support their position. [Irish Times, 7 October]

A Catholic bioethical institute in Britain has criticised the policy on abortion referrals and birth control prescriptions of a Catholic hospital. Dr Helen Watt, director of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics said it was worrying that the Hospital of Saint John and Saint Elizabeth, London, reportedly did not forbid doctors at the hospital from referring for abortion or prescribing abortifacient birth control. Dr Watt said: "Catholic teaching is absolutely opposed to prescriptions or referrals for abortion or contraception. A woman who is facing a difficult pregnancy should be offered not abortion, but positive support with having her baby. If it is wrong to perform a procedure oneself, it is also wrong to refer for that procedure. A Catholic hospital must make this unambiguously clear to everyone working on the premises." Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, reportedly authorised the code which does forbid abortion, euthanasia, IVF and sterilisation procedures at the hospital. [Daily Mail, 7 October]

Abortion is alien to African culture, according to the Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya. Cardinal John Njue criticised a proposal to legalise the procedure and warned Catholics of the moral danger of supporting the bill and of procuring an abortion. SPUC has applauded the cardinal's pastoral letter. [John Smeaton, 5 October]

A Mexican political party is to introduce measures to legalise abortion throughout the country, after the supreme court ruled in favour of a law allowing abortion up to 12 weeks in the capital. The social democrats, who have just four of the 500 seats in the national chamber of deputies, are proposing changes at state and federal level. The National Action Party, which governs nationally, wants to amend the constitution of Guanajuato state to protect human life from conception. [LifeSiteNews, 6 October]

A pro-life radio advertisement in north America features the heartbeat of a 10-week-old unborn child. The Knights of Saint Columbus's ad, aimed at voters in forthcoming Canadian and US elections, also has a woman's voice asking: "Listening to this [heartbeat] makes me wonder why would anyone question that her life has begun?" [Catholic News Agency, 6 October]
Scientists claim to have detected Down's syndrome in the unborn by analysing maternal blood. A study of fewer than 20 women by Stanford University, California, reportedly detected extra chromosomes in foetal DNA in the mothers' bloodstream. The technique has been patented and could be available in two years. [Liverpool Daily Post, 7 October] Tests for Down's which detect the syndrome are often followed by suggestions to women that they abort their child.

A terrorist prisoner has been allowed out a Spanish jail for state-funded IVF. Ms Elena Beloki's application for bail was opposed by the prosecutor who said she could receive treatment in prison during her 13-year sentence for being a spokeswoman for a banned Basque separatist group. [Times, 7 October]

Ventilation could prevent sudden infant-death, say researchers at the Kaiser Permanente healthcare company in California. Opening a window or operating a fan could prevent carbon dioxide from accumulating around a baby's face. [Reuters, 6 October]

Listening to music can relieve stress in pregnant women, according to research in Taiwan reported in the Journal Of Clinical Nursing. [Daily Mail, 7 October]

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