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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Texan bishops: "abortion is the defining moral issue"

15 October 2008

Catholic bishops in Texas say that abortion is the principal issue in next month's election. Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth write: "We cannot make [clearer] the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion - while not the 'only issue' - it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years." Voting for a candidate "when there is a morally acceptable alternative" who supported abortion was cooperating with evil. [LifeNews, 14 October] A Mexican prelate has said that pro-abortion people are outside the Catholic church and barred from holy communion. Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop of Guadalajara, said that abortion supporters would not go to heaven. [Catholic News Agency, 14 October] SPUC applauded the cardinal's message but expects criticism in some religious media. [John Smeaton, 15 October]

An archbishop has reportedly approved an ethical code for a Catholic hospital which does not prohibit referral for abortion. Dr Luke Gormally, honorary research fellow at the Linacre Centre, London, is quoted as writing that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, sanctioned a set of principles to be used at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, London. Dr Gormally describes the code as "a complete capitulation to the demands of the [hospital's medical advisory committee] that certain key demands of Catholic moral teaching should have no authority over what they decide and do with their patients". He calls the situation a grave scandal and asks: "How can the Church in this country effectively defend the sanctity of life when its [leader] is prepared to approve a Code which effectively accommodates referrals for abortion?" [Hermeneutic of Continuity, 8 October] The head of SPUC has expressed astonishment at the cardinal's apparent approval of the code and writes: "Catholic Church leaders in England must stop the evil complicity with abortion provision." [John Smeaton, 14 October] A previous version of the code forbade referral for abortion.

Attempts to extend British abortion law to Northern Ireland are reportedly to be shelved after politicians from the province threatened to break off communication with the UK government over the matter. [Telegraph, 15 October] An amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill extending British law to Northern Ireland remains on the parliamentary website.

A United Nations panel is to reconsider the UN assembly's 2005 ban on human cloning. The international bioethics committee will debate the matter at the UN's science organisation in Paris on the 28th and 29th of this month. A working group said the issue was being re-examined because of technological developments and the fact that some states wanted to clone for research if not for live birth. [Walta Info, 14 October] Unlike some measures, the UN ban applies to all human cloning, regardless of what is done with the person.

Units treating ill and premature babies in Britain are overstretched, according to a report by the Bliss organisation. There was a shortage of 1,700 nurses and only a fifth of wards met British Association of Perinatal Medicine standards. [PA on Channel 4, 15 October]

The practice of euthanasia would undermine patients' trust in those treating them, according to a British expert on end-of-life care. Dr David Jeffrey, former chairman of the Association for Palliative Medicine's ethics committee, says terminal patients need encouragement and that people who feel they are a burden need legal protection. Baroness Warnock, the British philosopher, recently suggested that people with dementia had a duty to die. [Christian Institute, 14 October]

The European Union wants to increase statutory paid maternity leave to 18 weeks, of which a minimum of six weeks would be after the birth. [Emplaw, 14 October]

Parents in eastern England whose babies died are giving support to others who suffer the same tragedy. The Forget Me Not group holds meetings in a crematorium chapel where people describe their experiences and perform commemorative acts for their deceased children. [Thurrock Gazette, 15 October]

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