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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Under-pressure Obama admits there are too many abortions

3 April 2009

The US government will reportedly today launch a drive to reduce the number of abortions. White House staff are expected to hold a telephone conference with religious leaders and abortion supporters. It is said the programme would attempt to cut teenage pregnancy and offer help to expectant mothers. [US News, 2 April] SPUC's national director has noted the friendship shown by President Obama towards President Hu Jintao of China at yesterday's London meeting of the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. John also likens the pro-China attitude of Mrs Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, to that of Dr Henry Kissinger, her predecessor, who was instrumental in getting China to adopt a population control policy which includes abortion. [John Smeaton, 2 April] Catholic supporters of Mr Obama are said to be having second thoughts about their choice of president. An opinion poll found his disapproval rating among Catholics had risen. [Medilexicon, 2 April]

The head of the Catholic religious community which runs a college in Indiana where Mr Obama is due to speak has asked him to reconsider his views on life issues. Writing from Rome, Rev Hugh Cleary CSC, superior general, asks that the president's receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame University should be an opportunity for his conscience "to be formed anew". Rev Cleary says he has received many complaints. [Catholic News Service, 31 March] 13 Catholic bishops including two cardinals have publicly opposed the visit and an online petition has attracted more than 220,000 supporters. [LifeSiteNews, 1 April] Rt Rev Thomas Doran, Bishop of Rockford, says Notre Dame (which refers to Mary, the mother of Christ) should change its name to Northwestern Indiana Humanist University. [LifeSiteNews, 2 April] Pro-life people are lobbying against the president's appointment of Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas as health-secretary because of her support for abortion. [Medical News Today, 1 April]

A woman in England who wants her husband not to be prosecuted if he takes her abroad to kill herself has been allowed to put her case to the House of Lords, the nation's highest court. Mrs Debbie Purdy, 45, who has multiple sclerosis, is supported in the matter by Dignity in Dying, the former Voluntary Euthanasia Society. [Telegraph & Argus, 3 April] SPUC's Paul Tully said: "This news comes as the campaign to sweep away any obstacle to helping suicidal people go abroad to commit suicide is intensifying. In the past fortnight we have seen calls both in Parliament and in the media to abolish the protection of anyone who is suicidal from going abroad to take their life. We must strenuously resist these sinister moves." [SPUC, 3 April] Dignitas in Zurich, where Mrs Purdy may want to go, is seeking a change to Swiss law so that the healthy wife of an ill man from Canada can kill herself at the same time as him. Mr Ludwig Minelli, the organisation's founder who will reportedly go to court over the matter, says suicide is a marvellous opportunity. [Guardian, 2 April] The BBC has shown the suicide room at Dignitas and interviewed a staff member. [BBC, 2 April]

The United Reformed Church could next month host a meeting in southern England to be addressed by an Australian supporter of assisted suicide. Rev David Coleman of the Brighthelm Centre, Brighton, said he did not agree with Dr Philip Nitschke but supported the right to discuss the issue. A city council member has urged the church to reconsider. Mr David Lepper MP said any discussion had to be within the law. The police said hosting the meeting could break the law. [Argus (Brighton), 1 April] Oxford university's debating society has withdrawn an invitation to Dr Nitschke, who calls the move censorship. [PA on Channel 4, 1 April]

Italy's constitutional court has overruled a 2004 law restricting the number of embryos implanted in IVF to three. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, former secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said more embryos would be sacrificed and there would be eugenic selection. [AFP on Leader-Post, 2 April]

Ireland routinely ignores the number of women travelling to Britain for abortion, according to a parliamentary member of the country's governing party. Ms Mary O'Rourke TD was pleased that the number had declined in recent years, and wanted the education system to teach avoidance of early intercourse. [Irish Times, 3 April]

Abortions on under-18s in Wales are at their highest for five years. More than 1,000 such girls had the procedure in 2007. The British Medical Association said education was needed and the Family Planning Association advocated early sex education. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said pregnant teenagers should not be stigmatised. 24 abortions are done daily in the principality on women of all ages. [BBC, 3 April]

More than 5,000 people took part in a recent pro-life rally in São Paulo, Brazil. Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, the city's archbishop, said abortion was a defeat of medicine and that rape victims could be healed of the experience. The state should legislate to protect human life from conception. [EWTN, 1 April]

The British government is to give £190 to each expectant mother if she gets health advice and is more than 25 weeks' pregnant. [Telegraph, 1 April]

The future head of a training college for Anglican clergy in Massachusetts has called abortion a blessing and opposes the right of medical workers to refuse to take part in it. Rev Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, who will lead the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, wants unrestricted access to the procedure. The views were in a sermon on her blog which she removed after receiving suggestions that she repent. [LifeSiteNews, 2 April]

Cells from amniotic fluid could be used in therapies, according to the American Society of Hematology's journal. The national French institute for health and biomedical research isolated such material in mice and humans. [Science Daily, 1 April]

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