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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Brazilian Supreme Court could introduce limited abortion

22 September 2008

The Brazilian Supreme Court could soon allow the abortion of anencephalic babies. Cardinal Odilo Scherer, Archbishop of Sao Paulo, said: "an anencephalic baby is a living human being, and for this reason [its] fragile [life] must be respected." He warned that this could lead to abortion on other grounds. The court had to ensure laws conformed to the constitution which safeguarded the right to life, as did international treaties such as the Pact of San José. The cardinal said: "The protection of innocent and defenseless human life should be of interest to all, above any religious or ideological concepts, because it is a question of humanity and not of religion." Science proved that life began at conception. [Catholic News Agency, 19 September]

Women under 35 who are prepared to donate their eggs will be allowed to freeze other eggs at no cost. A clinic in London, England, is offering to store the gametes as long as one egg is donated for every one frozen. The Bridge Centre says it is offering the scheme, reportedly worth £5000, because of modern women's lifestyles. Those involved would be typically expected to undergo three cycles of ovarian stimulation which would produce 30 eggs, half of which would be given away, the rest frozen for possible later IVF. [Sunday Times, 21 September]

Embryo researchers want clarification of Senator John McCain's policy on their activities. Delegates to the forthcoming World Stem Cell Summit in Wisconsin are reportedly concerned that the Republican candidate for US president could go back on his previous support for federal funding. They are worried that the party platform opposes embryo research, as does Mrs Sarah Palin, vice presidential candidate. [Chicago Tribune, 22 September] At a recent church-hosted debate, Mr McCain said life began at conception.
Pro-life people are due to take part in a campaign by Senator Barack Obama, Democrat candidate, that is aimed at religious believers. National Right to Life believes they may side-step abortion and concentrate on poverty and the environment. Mr Douglas Johnson, legislative director, said that one million Americans owed their lives to a measure banning abortion-funding, which Mr Obama would repeal. [LifeNews, 29 September]

Midwives in Britain are over-stretched, according to their professional body. The Royal College of Midwives complains that, while government promises one-to-one care, their members sometimes have to deal with three births at once. The state health service is short of nearly 4,300 midwives; promised funding may have gone astray. [Telegraph, 22 September]

There are government plans to have nurses in all secondary schools in Wales by 2011. [BBC, 22 September] School nurses can be involved in supplying abortifacient birth control and in referring for abortion. Pupils can be under the age of consent and parents may not be informed let alone consulted.

A new pregnancy test could tell women how many weeks' pregnant they were. The £14 Clearblue test reportedly takes three minutes administer. Our source suggests it will help resolve disputes over paternity. [Sunday Telegraph, 21 September]

The British prime minister's wife has spoken in support of a United Nations target to cut maternal mortality. Addressing a meeting at the conference of her husband's party, Mrs Sarah Brown expressed concern that one woman died in childbirth every minute. Basic resources could help solve the problem. [Herald, 22 September]

Obesity increases the risk of repeated miscarriage, according to research on some 700 women by St Mary's Hospital, London, England. Obesity helped to account for otherwise unexplained miscarriages among women who had already miscarried. [BBC, 21 September]

Acupuncture can help fertility treatment, according to a study of 2,000 women by Southampton University, England. The practice, which involves inserting needles in the skin, is said to increase the likelihood of implantation during IVF. [Sunday Telegraph, 21 September]

There has been more protest at the portrayal of Marie Stopes, the birth control pioneer (1880-1958), on a British postage stamp. Countess Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics writes that Ms Stopes was a eugenicist and points out that abortion for disability is allowed up to birth in Britain. She contrasts this with the recent "inspiring" Paralympic Games in Beijing and condemns the Royal Mail's actions. [Guardian, 22 September]

A woman has written to a newspaper supporting euthanasia for her 87-year-old mother who has Alzheimer's. Ms Val Jones of Suffolk, England, says her mother: "lives on uselessly, hardly even aware that she's alive." Ms Jones writes: "I would not want the same indignities to be my children's last memory of me." [Telegraph, 22 September]

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